#Pedagoosunshine- Dream Team at Joseph Swan Academy.

For those who couldn’t be with us on Saturday (shame on you!) I’ve written a little journey about our amazing sunshine event.

I’ve often heard Teachmeets referred to as the perfect staffroom and on Saturday 18th May I fully understood why.  Not only did we have the privilege of a dream team of presenters who put their heart and soul into delivering fantastic, inspiring workshops, but the rest of the staffroom was buzzing too, with every single person showing a desire to learn and become part of a teaching and learning community. The day was a day full of learning, smiles and positivity and any initial reluctance about handing over a precious weekend to professional development quickly disappeared upon entering the Academy.  Visitors were greeted with a free goodie bag of teaching and learning delights and a professional sign in from our wonderful Academy admin team and brilliant student ambassadors.  The lanyards served to remind people of which workshops they had signed up to and it was great to see so many people referring to them throughout the day; the famous quotation ‘It’s always the simple that produces the marvellous’ seemed to work for us with our visitors easily being able to recall where they were headed next.

Visitors were then guided to the ‘share area’ where they could sit, chat, drink coffee, eat pastries and listen to the steel pan band until the opening speeches and Bucks Fizz toast from Head Teacher Heather Scott and the ORRsome opera singing from Rachel Orr (Head Teacher of Shotton Primary)  Speeches and toasts over Lisa kicked off the learning by encouraging everyone to ‘make friends with someone new’ and ‘talk about what you hoped to learn from today’  More welcomes continued with co-founder of Pedagoo,  Fearghal’s introduction to what Pedagoo was all about, conveying the central ethos that Pedagoo is about building a community of teachers who collaborate and share, taking control of their own CPD (Don’t forget to share your great ideas on Pedagoo.org)

Then it was off to the workshops!  Where do I start?  I tried to visit as many as possible to get a flavour of each so apologies if I don’t mention you, but I know for certain that all of the workshops were enjoyed by everyone who I managed to speak to (and that was a lot of people on Saturday!)  First off I visited Tait Coles’ Punk Learning and immediately found myself considering how many glam teachers I’ve known in my career and how many punk (this will make sense if you attended Tait’s session and if you didn’t, then you’ll just have to come to the Christmas event!)  I never thought that I’d hear myself hope to be viewed as a punk, although if you ever have the opportunity to see my 1980s haircut you might readily agree there was a little bit of a punk about me! (Serious bribes only to view this horror!)  If you want to know more about Tait’s brilliant session, I’m sure he’ll oblige with a write up.

From there it was a whirlwind of visits (after the popcorn machine of course!) to Martin Said’s Project tuning session, who along with Darren Mead made me seriously consider taking up bird watching!  What was this all about??? First becoming a punk and now bird watching? Darren- where are those birds?  Isn’t this is what is best about learning though?  Trying things that are outside of your comfort zone? Considering new ways of looking at things? This bird conversation continued over a hog roast lunch with Martin (complete with bird calls) who I could honestly listen to all day as he is so passionate and enthusiastic about everything. This was only topped by the hoola hooping attempts of Martin and one of our assistant Heads Jonathan Maylin (I have the video if anyone is interested!)

At the end of lunch whilst sat having a conversation with Kenny Pieper about my favourite subject ever (books) I was witness to a great session on display for learning by Joseph Swan’s very own Sarah Middlemiss our design expert and History Teacher Lydia Burnett’s session on ‘Powerful Props’ I was so proud of the girls, particularly as it was their first ever Teachmeet!  I managed to pop into Andrea and Laura’s ‘Crazy things we do to enthuse our students’ and can vouch for the fact that I knew in advance that this would be an off the wall session of craziness.  I have heard Laura sing and play the piano to her pupils as an everyday part of her lessons!  For me though Lisa’s year 11 class were what it was all about.  I had a lump in my throat listening to what they had to say.  Make sure you read Lisa’s post if you didn’t manage to attend this brilliant session.

The day ended with an opportunity to win a number of books.  Names were drawn out of a raffle, placed there by people who had been inspired by others and a lucky lady won a box of books kindly donated by Crown House Publishing.  Jon Haines also kindly donated £20 of vouchers for people who had participated in his survey session- thank you Jon.

We couldn’t quite believe that it was all over; those crazy conversations about not having enough windmills, should we hire a bouncy castle, where could I get an ice cream van from and what could we get dressed up as to serve drinks seemed like a distant memory.  The frantic laminating and cutting up until 8pm the night before, the trip out to source a candelabra at 6pm and the joy of discovering that I had two red tents instead of one red and one green one provided much laughter. The fun elements of the day though (the circus entertainers, the balloons etc.) were just the fancy trimmings, the real love came from the learning.  Thank you to all who made the day so special.  I have included a few snippets from the feedback forms that really made me smile.

‘Outstanding- I feel so full’

‘Fantastic- couldn’t be better’ (I think we will have to rise to that challenge)


‘Generally- an inspiring day’

‘I just wish I could have went shoplifting from John’s stall of teaching goodies’

‘Fab, fun, informal and inspirational’

‘Best CPD ever’

‘Student ambassadors were delightful’

Top notch, massive, awesome, mint!’

Jane Hutchison (Joseph Swan Academy)

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