#PedagooHull event for teachers is on May 14, 2016. Put this date into your diary!
So, being a new Pedagoo Curator, I’ve decided to organise a Pedagoo event in Hull. As far as I know (correct me if I am wrong), this will be the first Pedagoo event in Hull, if not Humberside. Those of you well familiar with Pedagoo will know that their events are somewhat similar to TeachMeets, but come with a difference. Rather than being short presentations, which is the case with TeachMeets, their main feature are meetings of small groups of teachers around a table, where practice, ideas, resources related to T&L are shared and exchanged. The atmosphere is relaxed, and there tends to be a lot of enthusiasm and laughter! I attended my first Pedagoo event in Newcastle (Pedagoo Christmas Party 2014) at the University there and fell in love with the format and the way it was run quite instantly. It reinvigorated me (much needed in December after the entire term and it always being dark when you go to work and always being dark when you leave!). It allowed me to revisit – with full force – why I am in this profession, why I love it so much, and how I am surrounded, in every school I go to or work in, with dozens of other teachers dedicated to the same: preparing children for the world ahead of them. Day in. Day out. Teachers were sharing practice with each other – always amazes me what we can learn from each other and how inspirational we can be for each other! – their spirits were lifted. It was an event when we were able to reclaim our profession and professionalism.
The plan is that you leave #PedagooHull with the same uplifting feelings and lots of ideas to use in your own classrooms.
The groups will be led by Learning Conversations leaders and there should be 9 different ones. Any teacher can be a leader, so if there is an area you are great at (feedback, questioning, differentiation, marking, IT in your classroom) – everyone has their strengths! – do sign up to lead one using the relevant form on the page linked to above. We already have 3 leaders, but there is space for you there!
I would like to extend a HUGE thank you to @lisajaneashes and @SeahamRE and @lovelinkous. Lisa, in particular, has been incredibly welcoming and inspirational to me both both prior to the Christmas Party event in Newcastle (extremely welcoming!) and whilst the event was on. All these three wonderful people have been supportive of me over the last year. They are a true example of what can be accomplished when a community of like-minded, sharing-practice and research-driven people get together. Without them, I wouldn’t have thought of becoming a Pedagoo Curator. Thank you!
So who is this guy? Why is he doing this?
My name is Kamil, and I am an EAL Coordinator at one of Hull’s secondaries. I have had a long career in English language teaching, starting in 1999 back in my home country Poland. I moved to England in 2007 to be a teacher of EAL, and worked at a secondary in Wembley, London, for three years. I have since taught in Scotland, then back in London, and now I am in Hull. In essence, I am committed to three things, which drive my own practice and how I work with other teachers:
Disseminating good EAL practice to other teachers – and networking:
be it in my own school, where, beside teaching EAL learners myself, potentially half of my role is advising other teachers on EAL practice, or through networking and training other teachers across the country. I’ve spoken at well over 10 different teachmeets on EAL in the last two years (my first one was, I think, @TMHullEY at Malet Lambert!), and wherever I’ve been, it was quite apparent to me that mainstream teachers ache for this knowledge. I’ve spoken at conferences, too, such as a ResearchEd in Swindon in November 2015. If you are an NQT, you might just see me delivering a short workshop at the NQT Conference at the University of Hull next week.
EAL is a vast area, drawing on insights from studies of bilingualism, English language teaching, literacy, issues of cultural belonging and race and far more: it is at huge disadvantage to many teachers that there is so little training in this area: as a result, people struggle knowing what to do, facing with the prospect of teaching both language and content in their classrooms. Theories and strategies such as CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), CBLT (Content Based Language Teaching) and writings of people such as Pauline Gibbons, Thomas & Collier, Bernard Mohan or Neil Mercer remain unknown to many. Language is incredibly important and I wish there was more of a concept of language across the curriculum instead of just the literacy. I want to help those struggling teachers. Most teachers I speak to want to learn about how to better serve EAL learners. At the risk of sounding like a Tesco employee: I am here to help. I have the knowledge of both theories and strategies that can be flexibly used for EAL learners and am willing to share these. I am willing to train or help individually any mainstream teacher.
Learning from the mainstream teachers:
I don’t find it enough, however, to be just sitting there in my specialism. There are some EAL teachers out there, who in some utopian way believe that “we are in the right” and “they are in the wrong”. It’s just not me. In my view, we simply need to learn from each other. In my role, I cannot hope to advise teachers of English, Maths, Science, Geography and other subject teachers, if I don’t understand the kind of knowledge that they took from their trainee university programmes. I was originally trained in Poland and a good while ago, and most to be an English language (TEFL) teachers. A teacher who knows about language theories (such as Chomsky, Skinner, Krashen and Pinker) is likely to be a great teacher in English-language schools, but cannot hope to help British mainstream teachers navigate the need to teach content and language. Everyone needs to know about the writings of Bloom, Piaget, Dweck, Hattie and Dewey. I continue to read and learn about what knowledge teachers I am advising have coming in to schools in England, so I can find common ground.
I want to learn from you guys how to improve my teaching too. At TeachMeets and other conferences I’ve attended I have learnt so much. My morning silent reading with my EAL student uses an adapted by myself version of silent reading cards I picked up at EngMeet in Buckinghamshire last year. At Yorkshire TeachMeet last year, I picked a great idea on how to mark more effectively. At a NATE TeachMeet in Leeds just last week, I learned how to use PlayDough to engage learners reading literature. At Ross McGill’s TeachMeet in London last year, I picked up how to use Kahoots and Plickr with my students. There is massive experience and knowledge there that I can use to improve my practice. It is certainly not a one way street.
Research, research, research:
I am always on the lookout for more research into education and like-minded teachers who want to use action research and/or just reading about others’ research to improve their own practice. Taking the time to think about what we do and reflecting on what we do as professionals is extremely important to me. Obviously, it’s not that we’ll ever be able to incorporate all the good ideas into our own practice, but the more we know the more we can choose from. Exploring ideas of others (not just from the UK) is of utmost importance. Engaging with other points of view gives us, the teachers, the power of knowledge. That power mean we can be more critical about what we’re asked to do in our classrooms and why we are asked to do so. (For instance, the knowledge I have about bilingualism and language learning equips me with power – in some schools, EAL may be perceived as a marginal concern, but being knowledgeable means one can stand one’s ground.) That way we can, I strongly believe, enforce a bottom-up approach to education. We are the people on the ground – we are the once who know what it feels like to be in our classrooms – and we should be the ones who have more of a say (to begin with, at least) in what the education system looks like. But we need to be equipped with knowledge to change this highly politicised landscape we’re dealing with these days. But we need to have that research knowledge that empowers us.
I do hope that #PedagooHull will bring the teachers and educationalists in the Humberside, East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire together (and beyond, if you’d like to come!). I would like to begin building a community of teachers that network together and share practice and ideas. If you’d like to be part of that community, please do sign up to lead a learning conversation at the event or simply sign up to the event. We’re first looking for conversation leaders; following this, we’ll be opening the event to general registration. If you want to be informed about when that general registration opens, there is a separate form for that at the Pedagoo Event’s page.
I do hope to see you there on the 14th! Please share this with other teachers. Let’s share practice and empower each other!
(EAL Coordinator, Teacher, Trainer, Speaker, Education Blogger)
MEd in Advanced Studies in Inclusive Education
Education blogger: Valuing and Protecting Diversity Through Education
Admin of International English / ESL / EAL Collaborative Group (Facebook)