Category Archives: SLFringe

A Landmark Moment – Be a Part of It

As we approach Teachmeet Scottish Learning Fringe 2012, perhaps the biggest day in Pedagoo’s reasonably short history, it is a good time to take stock and reflect on how far we’ve all come. More importantly, however, it is an even better time to consider the potential we have to grow and change. So this is not so much about what pedagoo is but what it could be.

Discussing the Scottish Curriculum with some teachers recently– and I call it that because I will not longer call it Curriculum for Excellence like it was some kind of other ‘thing’ – I am reminded of the old joke about the optimist and the pessimist. The pessimist says ‘Surely things can’t get any worse,’ and the optimist replies ‘Oh yes they can.’ You get the feeling that some people have made up their minds and will never be swayed.  It would be easy to shrug our shoulders and say, ‘Oh well. What can you do?’ Well, an awful lot in my opinion.

As classrooms teachers I always think that the only powerful thing we really have is the ability to teach as best we can. We model good learning for our students and we provide the best experiences possible for them every day we are in school. However, if we truly believe that change is possible, that a new way of doing things is possible then we must step up to the plate and walk the walk. It is no longer enough to dream of change and wish things weren’t like they are now.

I don’t think any of us at Pedagoo would describe ourselves as SuperTeachers. We are not special in that regard. What we do though is provide a platform to have the conversations which you may not be having, or are able to have, in your own staff rooms. We always wanted to provide a place for those voices which may not be heard otherwise. The blog extends that voice somewhat and we hope that it will continue to develop.

Dylan Wiliam states in his book, ‘Embedded Formative Assessment’:

‘Show me a teacher who doesn’t fail every day and I’ll show you a teacher with low expectations for his/her students.’

While there may be something about that which makes us uncomfortable, he’s right of course. Our job is to have a positive impact on the learning of our students.  Undoubtedly we do. But our expectations for their learning should always be just out of their reach. More importantly we all have to truly believe that. We have to believe that our students can always keep learning as much as we learn. We must speak up about the future we want and model good teaching and learning at every opportunity.

What are our expectations for, not of, ourselves? How much can we improve, develop, grow? How often do we, as educators, think of ourselves as learners too? Where I think Pedagoo is special is that it provides a place to have those debates. This Saturday is, I think, a landmark in Scottish education. Hyperbole you may say but I don’t think so. This is a group of educators who, off their own backs – or rather off the great Fearghal Kelly’s back mostly – are organising their own education event. Devoid of free pens and leaflets, corporate frippery, the big sell. We want teachers to talk about teaching and how we can make the new curriculum work for us.

If you’re there I can’t wait to say hello. If not, then please check in to Pedagoo over the next week or two for some Blog Posts which will fill you in on what happened. I’m generally ridiculously, irritatingly optimistic about what we can achieve in Scottish education if we begin to work together. And after next Saturday, I hope to be more so. Surely things can’t get any better. Oh yes they can.


TeachMeet:Scottish Learning Fringe Poster and Flyer

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There is now a Poster and Flyer for this September’s first Scottish Learning Fringe.
They are available to download as a ZIP file from THIS LINK.

We’d love it if you could print one out and put it up in your staffroom/base… or even better, pass it to the person responsible for CPD in your school!

Professional Development or Learning?

Douglas Blane asked some excellent questions of me today whilst discussing Pedagoo for a possible piece in the TESS. One in particular really got me thinking…it was something along the lines of “so, what’s the underlying idea behind Pedagoo?” It’s one of those questions which you feel you know the answer to but you struggle to articulate it succinctly. Whilst thinking of a response I was reminded of the following quotes from John Loughran in his book What Expert Teachers Do“…

Professional Development has typically been understood as the more traditional approach to in-service that teachers often experience when they are asked to implement a new curriculum or some other policy initiative. In many cases, the waves of change that regularly flow over the profession generally involve some form of up-skilling in relation to the new things that we are expected to do or to deliver. Therefore, traditional professional development is often linked to the implementation of some form of educational change by doing something to teachers, that is, telling us about the change and expecting it to then be carried out. In this way mandated changes are presented, we are trained in those changes in terms of technical requirements (sometimes as simple as re-labeling existing curriculum and practice) and then we are expected to implement those changes. It is a top-down approach and it functions in a similar way throughout the education system whether it be in the form of policy initiatives from the central education bureaucracy or at local school level from the principal’s office.

Professional learning operates in a different way. Professional learning assumes that we have some commitment to the change(s) – that the change might be driven, or developed and refined, by us. In essence, professional learning works on the bases that change is a result of work with, and/or by, teachers. Further to this, professional learning also carries an expectation that we are able to bring our expert judgement to bear on how change might best be implemented in our own context and practice. Therefore, professional learning is more about the learning that occurs through the process and how that learning is then able to be applied in our practice. Involvement in professional learning is therefore more likely to be voluntary, and the subsequent learning is personal and appropriately shaped and directed by each of us as individuals.

Loughran (2010)

I think perhaps this latter concept of professional learning as described by Loughran best describes everything we’re trying to do at Pedagoo. This includes this blog, but also #PedagooFriday, our events (#TMRetreat & #tmSLFringe12) and all our other future developments.

What do you think? How would you best encapsulate all that is Pedagoo?

TeachMeet : The Scottish Learning Fringe 2012

Every good festival has a fringe so I like to think there is a certain inevitability about this…

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After years of thinking that the inspiring Scottish Learning Festival was wasted by being held during the week when the majority of teachers couldn’t make it, we here at decided to do something about it. This year, the Scottish Learning Festival gets a Fringe! And, because we are all working teachers who can’t get to the Festival proper, we’re holding it on a Saturday.

TeachMeet : The Scottish Learning Fringe 2012

The day will be a mix of Round Table discussions and sharing which should be familiar to anyone who has ever been to a TeachMeet in the past… and a heady mix of enthusiasm, sharing and collaboration for anyone who hasn’t been to one. We have no secret agenda, we are not affiliated with any organisation, we are not doing this to score brownie points with our employers… but we are all teachers who are in the process of implementing the new Scottish Curriculum and who are willing to share what we have tried and explain what did or didn’t work. In short, we are you.

Who is the day for?

The day will be aimed at teachers who wish to learn more about the practical aspects of introducing the Scottish Curriculum. There will be a series of round table demonstrations/discussions led by practitioners who are trying some new things. What they do have in common is a willingness to share what they have tried: good, bad or ‘meh’!
This is a day for those who wish to learn and to share. It is possible that you will get some concrete answers on the day, but what is more likely is that you will be able to join in with a network of fellow teachers who are willing to kick ideas around, and work with you to help develop your own answers.

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Where and when will it be?

Having secured sponsorship for the venue thanks to the generosity of ELT Consultants the first SLFringe will take place in a yet to be decided venue in central Glasgow…watch this space!

What’s the catch?

There isn’t really one… The venue is being provided thanks to the incredible generosity of ELT Consultants… but after that, we’re on our own! You’ll either need to bring sandwiches and a flask (leather elbow patches are optional), cash to buy some of the excellent (and reasonable) food from the venue, or see if you can find someone to sponsor a tray of sandwiches or a jar of coffee! (Or cakes… we like cakes…)

The only possible catch is that places will be extremely limited. There will only be about 90 places available on the day… 🙁

What will the day look like?

We will finalise details nearer the time, but at the moment this is the current plan:

  • There will be 10 round table workshops led by teachers where they share something they’ve been doing in their classroom and then lead a discussion around this
  • Participants will sign up to three of these workshops
  • Lunch
  • We will work in groups to cross-pollinate and share key learning outcomes
  • We will retire to some suitable venue for a #BeerMeet/#TeachEat to round the day off

    Sounds amazing! How do I sign up?

    At this stage we are looking for teachers to volunteer to lead a workshop at TeachMeet Scottish Learning Fringe 2012. If you are interested in presenting, you can sign up to do so on the TeachMeet SLFringe Wiki.We will open up registration for attendance at a later date and will notify of this on here and on twitter as @pedagoo and using the hashtag #tmSLFringe12.

    Here’s the blurb from the TMWiki!

    Have you tried something in your classroom you’d like to share with colleagues from across the country? Here’s your chance to do so. By signing up you’ll be required to present something you’ve done in your classroom for approximately 20 minutes and then lead a discussion on this with your group of up to 10 participants for 20 minutes. You may be required to lead your workshop up to 3 times in the course of the morning. There will be no audio-visual equipment available for the workshops – the emphasis is therefore very much on the dialogue. We will also ask that you share your presentation and the outcomes of the discussions as a blog post on