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xmasparty
Pedagoo & TeachMeets

This week has seen my introduction to pedagoo and also presenting at teach meets. I was originally going to blog about how I think consistently good is outstanding, but I’ve had to rethink!

My school hosted a teach meet this week and I was asked several weeks ago if I would present. I had thought about presenting at a teach meet since I attended one earlier in the year and this was a great opportunity to do so. It was also lovely to be asked! (I made sure that I was doing a 2 minute nano presentation rather than a 5 minute one at the front of a lecture theatre). Although I found out closer to the teach meet that I had to present 11 times in 22 minutes! I was nervous prior to the event but afterwards it felt great to have been one of the few to present – I look forward to the next one! I didn’t really feel proud of what I had done until the following Saturday…

This Saturday I went to Pedagoo Wonderland at Joseph Swan Academy. I must admit, at this stage of the term I’m flagging considerably and I was very tempted to spend that Saturday wrapped up watching Soccer Saturday. However, I did find the energy to go with a friend who I trained with last year (lovely to catch up!) and not only am I glad that I went, I feel extremely grateful to all the effort put into the day by some very talented and enthusiastic people. I’m sorry I ever even considered not going!

At Joseph Swan they have a beautiful learning environment and they had gone to great lengths to put on a spectacle for us – sleighs, balloons, turkey sandwiches, Christmas cards and even Father Christmas himself made an appearance! I attended four workshops which were all very different but all equally brilliant. My workshops (which were personalised!) included a differentiation carousel, foldable fun, independent reindeers (or learners if you prefer) and enquiry based learning (specifically for maths).

I gained so many ideas from the day but I have to say that they weren’t the reason why I’m thrilled that I attended. At this winter wonderland were masses of people who had given up their Saturday to attend and some incredible individuals, teachers and students, who had put a huge amount of effort into creating such a fantastic afternoon of CPD. I thought as the afternoon went on that there is probably no other profession in the world where the professionals volunteer to train one another and do so at such a high level. The passion and commitment was brought to the day by NQTs all the way up to people who have been teaching for longer than I’ve been alive! I found the enthusiasm and passion again that brought me into teaching which had begun to fade away as I struggled through my NQT year. I feel re-invigorated again and I can’t wait for more teach meets and pedagoo wonderlands!

Many of us are worried about where the government is taking our Country’s education system. I think we should take comfort in how our profession, through teach meets, blogging, twitter and pedagoo, has shouldered the responsibility of developing each other in order to give children the best education we possibly can. We should all be very privileged to be part of such a passionate, talented and giving community.

Teachers- a thank you to confidence

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Teacher Confidence

Teachers have to have confidence – to a certain extent; we stand in front of a critical audience every day for a living. No matter what the age group, it takes confidence to deliver decent quality lessons that have thoughtful planning that deliver successful outcomes for learners.

Yes – confidence.

Although, how many teachers have confidence to stand in front of their peers and talk about the work they do, which is often both amazing and inspiring? Many, many less. The list of ‘enthusiastic lurkers’ at TeachMeets is often much, much longer than the list of those willing to present their ideas.

Reading back over my ‘Nurture’ blog post, inspired by @chocotzar; I wrote in January that I was going to try and be brave enough to ‘go to a TeachMeet.’ GO! Just turn up. Not present. Since then I have presented at five and I have organised TMSoton, which is taking place this coming Friday. I wonder what has happened to my confidence between January and now for that change to occur? My self-confidence outside my own classroom has certainly improved – but I wonder if there is anything in my experience that I can share to encourage other teachers, who have not yet presented to come and share their ideas.

I have always been a confident teacher in my own classroom. I’ve always had a handle on behaviour, assessment, and planning. For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed my job, and relished trying new lesson ideas in the classroom. In January, the idea of even going to a TeachMeet was petrifying. I was worried no one would talk to me, that the ideas presented would be beyond me, that I would stick out as not good/interesting enough. After some serious encouragement I went to TMBett in February and had a total and utter blast! I was delighted to meet so many people I had been talking to for a while, and found many of the presentations really useful. I went back to work – I tried them out – and hey presto, my teaching practice evolved and improved. Being in an environment with like-minded individuals is inspiring. I guess that could sound silly, or a bit naff, but I couldn’t wait to try out some of the ideas – they were not beyond me – I learnt to have confidence in my own abilities as a learner.

I think that blogging has improved my confidence, but actually what really forced me to present for the first time was the desire to be part of this amazing community sharing ideas. I knew I had things I wanted to talk about, I just needed to overcome my self-doubts. I had to make myself. I was also motivated by many friends, gently (vigorously at times) nudging me to do so. Also, in no small way I wanted to address a rather male celebrity – teacher culture, which meant that to a certain extent, TeachMeets had turned into a traveling circus of the same folk agreeing with each other. That probably sounds more contentious than I mean it too – but I think it’s fair to say that some TeachMeets had become a bit self-congratulatory, and were not seeking out ideas from new people, but encouraging already well known bloggers to achieve a platform for their admirable work. It can be a daunting platform to approach, (a bit like platform 9 and 3/4 – sometimes you just have to run head on into it!) however I would say that my experiences have been positive. Other teachers have used my ideas, and made them better, so that next time I try them, my own practice will have been improved from sharing. It has encouraged me to be innovative in my approach to my profession, and know that I have a soundboard for ideas that often leads to further creativity and refinement of ideas.

So then, back to confidence. How to enable other teachers, new voices, to speak at TeachMeets? I wonder, in thinking about this, where the issues lie. People who are happy to stand in front of a class find presenting to their peers a really terrifying concept. I hear a lot of teachers say ‘my ideas aren’t interesting/innovative/exciting/new/original ‘ enough. Well, do you know what? This just isn’t true. I have been to plenty of TeachMeets where the ideas were none of the above, but those presenting were talking about really amazing practice or ideas that WORK. We can all learn from ideas that actually work and benefit our learners. Just because you don’t see your ideas as original/interesting doesn’t mean that someone else will not. I was actually almost speechless the first time this year that someone called my teaching practice ‘creative’ – it is what I have always done. I don’t know any different. To be honest, I have moments of self-doubt where I wonder if what I am doing is good enough – but I get a lot of validation from my students, and results. The endorsement of my peers, whose knowledge and experience in many cases massively outweighs my own, has been a massive confidence boost. Trust me- if you care about your learners and strive to do the best by them, you will have something to share with the wider teaching community.

Another barrier to presenting is if teachers are naturally introverted. Not everyone is happy dealing with potentially large audiences. Nerves kick in, which can be crippling. This I can sympathise with. I shook like a leaf for an hour before TMClevedon – and I don’t normally feel that nervous about speaking in front of people. It is a fear of being judged – a fear that you are not good enough, that can come from all sorts of roots. I wonder how many teachers fight to empower learners in their classrooms, yet, are afraid of the judgement of their peers? Maybe this is rooted in negative experiences of childhood, the fear of raising your hand in case you make a mistake. The great thing about presenting is it doesn’t have to be perfect. Your presentation isn’t a masterpiece, but a work in progress, and actually a pretty good time to cast off some of the demons of past experience. Nerves are good – it means you care about the outcomes, and in taking a risk in presenting, you are actually being a positive role model for your own learners – you are demonstrating how you would like them to be. You are taking risks! You are seeking peer assessment, you are showing intrinsic motivation. As a teacher it is a powerful message to your students that you are also a learner – and willing to share with a wider community in the way that so many teachers expect students to be comfortable with.

So, imagine you decide to present and your ideas fall flat. What would you do? What’s the worst thing that could happen? I will tell you. You would pick yourself up again, go back to work and reflect. You would personify the most important thing that our learners can be, you would be modelling resilience. I actually can’t think of any presentation at a TeachMeet that fell totally flat – the diversity of the audience ensures that all ideas receive a positive reception from someone. However, there is so much power in accepting that you may need to be resilient, and putting yourself in the place of your own learners. The most powerful teachers are those that model positive learner characteristics, and how powerful is it to be able to demonstrate that it is not only ok to try and fail, but actually can contribute to the learning process? Was it Ghandi that said ‘be the change you want to see in the world’, well I say don’t just be, live it and preach it to the kids. Show them that even teachers have to fight to get better, taking on board feedback and improving.

Part of judgment is feeling that you, as a professional, might be compared with others who you feel are better/more interesting or even will rebound better than you. Well, you know what, I have met a lot of twitter famous teachers and they have the same insecurities that you do. Many speak and present for the same reasons as everyone else, to improve their practice and to contribute to a wider teaching community. Yes – I know, they have a gazillion followers, but many, many of them are just lovely and more than willing to help, talk to you and encourage your practice to grow. Don’t be intimidated by these types, they are just the same as you and really, no one is drawing comparisons between you and them. Get up there and talk about your ideas, your practice, how you have made things better, because you are a force for change in the world – and that is something to be proud of.

For some the IT is an issue, as can be the live streaming of events. Know what? I’ve spoken at events where my IT was perfect, and *whispers.. No one noticed. They were too busy talking about my daft parachute. Once you are up there you don’t even notice the camera – and it actually feels like leading a really big lesson. You need to trust in yourself, that your teaching mojo, in whatever form it takes, will give you an autopilot and you will get through it just fine. As I said earlier, if you make a mistake, it really doesn’t matter, the community is nurturing, they won’t focus on the bad but the good in your ideas. I promise.

So, some top tips for being confident enough to present:

1- if you have the outcomes of the students at the heart of your practice, then you have an idea that would be valuable to share with others.
2- don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are how everyone learns- not just those with impending exams.
3- don’t worry about being judged. The TM community is nurturing and anyone that might judge you isn’t worth your worry.
4- don’t compare yourself with anyone else. You would be mortified if a child in your class did this, so why do it to yourself?
5- Recognise that transformative potential that presenting might have in your own practice.

These tips are my pep talk that I run through every time I sign up to present. The impact of doing so has been invaluable for my own practice and I would love to see new people and hear new voices at each TeachMeet I go to. This one is a Dr Pepper moment – what’s the worst that can happen?

Thanks to @sidchip64, @gwenelope, @nicboardman and @gruntledlass for input about having the fear, and I hope to see them all present very soon.

Anymore ideas? Why might teachers be afraid of sharing ideas with other teachers? Please let me know. I don’t think that I’m anything special, but I know the impact that I can have is special – step up and be brave, you will be a better teacher for it.

Cross-posted from createinnovateexplore

TeachMeet Fife 2013

TeachMeet Fife 2013 is being held on Saturday 16th March at Dunfermline High from 10am to 2pm.  If you would like to come along as a presenter or just attend the event visit the wiki to find out more information or sign up.

Pedagoo Fife Wiki

If you teach in a Fife school could you please pass this poster onto colleagues or print it out and put it up in your staffroom.

#TMFife13 Poster

 

Go on, just do it!

An emotional day today: my son has just flown off to Hawaii to get married next Friday and I won’t be there to witness at first hand such a momentous event… and this afternoon I’ve also had to say goodbye to all the fabulous folk who travelled from afar to be with us for the first ever Teachmeet in the Western Isles, #tmhebrides. Oh, and not to forget that one of @anneglennie’s alpacas had a baby!

This side of #tmhebrides weekend, if you’re wondering whether or not to organise a Teachmeet or attend your first Teachmeet, my advice is: absolutely, go on, just do it!

The fantastic community of Twitter edu-friends across the UK helped with arrangements and offered words of encouragement, joined us via the live on-line link up, publicised the event in advance and contributed on the day via Twitter; as well as several of these brilliant people also making the long and expensive trip from Glasgow, Ayr and Elgin to be with us on the day to contribute their own presentations and words of encouragement to new teachmeeters and, hopefully, a new group of education tweeters and Pedagoo enthusiasts – thanks especially to @kennypieper, @daveterron and @literacyadviser. It has been a brilliant weekend of eat/greet/beer-meets on Friday and Saturday evening, Teachmeet itself on Saturday morning, and trips to various awesome Hebridean beaches yesterday afternoon and this morning. The local black pudding producers have also had a good weekend of it!

The emotion today comes partly out of relief following the previous anxiety in advance of the weekend: will it be a success, will everyone turn up, will the participants enjoy it and take away something valuable, will the effort be worth it, and so on and on? I needn’t have worried: the weekend had its own momentum and everyone who came along, in whatever capacity, not only enjoyed everything about it but actively contributed to its success. The enthusiasm in the room during and after the event was palpable and people lingered to continue chatting over lunch, to sign up for Twitter, to get contact details from each other and exchange copies of presentations and handouts. It was inspiring.

The emotion today also comes from the generosity of those who gave of their time and expertise to make this a success; the passion and conviction with which participants spoke yesterday; how folk have reacted today; the anecdotes and experiences that have been shared throughout the weekend; the enthusiasms that have been ignited and the new friends that have been made. I’ve had many enthusiastic messages today in person, by email, on Facebook and on Twitter. In one of @kennypieper’s presis yesterday, he spoke about the ‘trickle’ effect of getting people involved in Twitter, #pedagoofriday, Teachmeets, blogging, Pedagoo.org, and how if even just one new person joined up to Twitter or Pedagoo as a result of #tmhebrides his participation would have been worth it. I would say the ‘trickle’ has definitely started here – with a shower of enthusiasm!

So, a really huge thanks to everyone who contributed towards making #tmhebrides such a success. And remember, if you’re swithering about whether to try your own Teachmeet: go on, just do it!

TeachMeet SLF Fringe
March 11, 2012
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We here at pedagoo love the Scottish Learning Festival. We think it’s great. It’s just such a fantastic opportunity to find out about what’s going on, have your thinking stretched and network with colleagues from across the country, and beyond.

But (you could sense one was coming, couldn’t you). There’s two issues with SLF. Firstly, it’s midweek. Many classroom teachers struggle to make it to SLF as they’re too busy teaching classes! And secondly, in Scotland a festival is not really festival unless it has a fringe festival. We intend to put this right.

So what would this look like? Well, in TeachMeet/Pedagoo spirit, this is very much up for debate…but a starter for ten might look something like this:

  • We have some sort of big space in Glasgow on the Saturday following SLF for the day.
  • Approximately ten teachers volunteer to lead round table workshops where they share something they’ve been doing in their classroom and then lead a discussion around this.
  • Participants sign up to attend two of these workshops in advance and a third round is arranged as the morning progresses.
  • We have lunch of some sort…probably paid for by participants themselves.
  • We then have a further session after lunch where we work in groups to cross-pollinate and share key learning outcomes.
  • We’ll probably then have some sort of #BeerMeet/#TeachEat to round the day off.

Obviously, one of the biggest challenges is going to involve finding a space big enough on a Saturday in Glasgow with a budget of £0. But, we like a challenge.

What do you think? Would you be up for it? Have you any better ideas on how it might work? Do you know of somewhere it could be held?

Let us know what you think here. As you know, we’re all about the collaboration.