Tag Archives: #pedagoosunshine


I had promised to blog when time allowed and it finally has…the joy of half term.

Being an avid advocate of the @pedagoo movement, I jumped at the opportunity to present a workshop at the much anticipated #pedagoosunshine event at Joseph Swan Academy for several reasons. I’ve explained the benefits of Pedagoo #pedagoosunshine #pedagoolondon and its linked events such as Teachmeets and (the slightly differently formatted) conferences like #Tlab13 yet the unique ‘selling’ point for me with Pedagoo will always be the grass roots nature of the events. Pedagoo is made by teachers, for teachers and designed to share elements of pedagogy and practice that are working in the classroom, in order that teachers are inspired to take away ideas and mould and shape them for themselves and their pupils.

I’ve had quite an eventful fortnight, all be told, and one thing that sticks in my mind is that when talking with passion about pedagoo, I described it as Guerrilla CPD which may or may not be correct. The Oxford Dictionary defines the noun (when referring to combat) as ‘a member of a small independent group taking part in irregular fighting, typically against larger regular forces’ I wouldn’t consider what we do as fighting, but it is something that is largely outside of the norm. CPD on a Saturday and also the small (yet growing) independent group part does ring true. I much prefer the definition when used as a modifier: referring to actions or activities performed in an impromptu way, often without authorization.

To me, I think the idea of ‘activities performed in an impromptu way’ is one of the key identifiers of this type of event. Although extremely well organised and thoroughly supported by the school, it shines through as being grass roots and is set up as a sharing and extremely positive environment for all that attend.

During the course of the day, I was fortunate to be able to drop in to a range of workshops including those of: @Bunnyscience @TeamTait @PunkLearning @stevebunce (who really should have a blog!) @KennyPieper and the wonderful workshop presented by @lisajaneashes Year 11 pupils, showing us how they want to learn and what works for them.
In addition to the workshops, it was a fantastic opportunity to meet up and have learning conversations with so many more inspiring educators: Zoe Elder Jim Smith (the one with the toolboxes not The Lazy Teacher!) John Sayers @Fkelly @KerryPulleyn and Rachel Orr

What is the commonality here? Each and every person is enthusiastic, passionate and dedicated to improving their classroom practice, subsequently benefitting the learning of their pupils. It will never fail to give me a buzz, seeing so many enthusiasts in one room, after all, it’s fertile ground for so much more: project ideas, mutual support, bringing together like-minded folk. So guerrilla CPD it may or may not be. All I know is it is something that has changed my attitude towards the way I work, opened my mind to the possibilities and afforded me the opportunity to meet a wealth of inspiring and like-minded people who genuinely want to make a difference for the better.

Pedagoo, it just works!

#pedagoosunshine A Cabinet of Curiosities

cabinet of curiosities

As an aside, before I begin this post, if you are looking for inspiration to create your own awe and wonder, look no further than this wonderfully different little book. It is filled with an array of wonders that will leave you thinking differently about this magical world in which we live. A welcome addition to any bookshelf that will leave you feeling inspired to explore.

My Maths teacher would be found, only too often, manically squealing, “Why don’t you get it Lisa?” The truth is that I probably did ‘get it,’ I just didn’t give a crap about his uninspiring text book full of numbers. At school, I wasn’t the geek that I am today. The naughtier things in life appealed to me far more than any Maths class because I was young and wanted to have fun. Fun and learning didn’t seem to belong in the same sentence and I’d choose fun every time.

After being seriously uninspired by school, I became a teacher because I knew that there was a better way. However, sitting through one particularly dull CPD session years later, I found myself back in that uninspiring place; the text book had been replaced by a Powerpoint but my reaction to it was similar. The only notes that I wrote that session were the words: “Note to self, never expect pupils to sit through something this dull and behave.”

Remembering my notes, I try to stay true to my word. The curriculum, as with everything in life, is what you make of it. Having fun is still at the forefront of my mind but I know that combining having fun with purposeful learning experiences is the best way forward (there has to be a balance). As teachers, we all have the power to create an environment in which children can laugh and learn so why the hell not? Just because you are enjoying yourself does not mean that you are not learning. The power to turn poetry revision into an Apprentice style board room or develop communication by creating new worlds is only your imagination away. It would be far easier (planning wise) to recite a text book but wouldn’t you rather ignite young minds by showing your pupils that their world is a cabinet of curiosities full of awe and wonder which they are free to explore?

When asked why we felt the need to include jugglers, unicyclists, hoola hoopers and a pop corn vender at Pedagoo Sunshine, I replied, why the hell not? Sunshine had an awesome line up of teachers ready to impart their knowledge on peers. The easiest way to get this information out to the participants would have been to line them up in rows and lecture them for the day. It would have taken far less organisation and the same message would have been delivered but how many teachers would choose to turn up? The people attending were all university graduates, well capable of sitting still, behaving and listening for long periods of time, so why didn’t we take the easy option?  Because CPD is what you make of it too.

The world around us in an amazing place, full of awe and wonder! Like the pupils we teach, we want to feel inspired and, like the pupils we teach, sitting in rows and having a Powerpoint read to us just isn’t going to cut it. For Pedagoo Sunshine, thanks the generosity and imagination of our new Head Teacher Heather Scott, we had the power to do something different, the power to transform our empty school street into an inspiring setting for an inspiring day. We had the power to create our own cabinet of curiosities and so we did. “Follow the windmills and music” our fantastic students told gob smacked visitors as they entered our ‘outside inside’ street scene, complete with gazebos, garden furniture and lashings of bunting.

John Sayers' tent was over flowing

John Sayers’ tent was over flowing

The scene was designed to create awe, the sessions for sharing, inspiration and new learning. The balance between learning and fun was just right. This party wasn’t just for show. Practicing teachers delivered practical sessions on project based learning, apps for the classroom, questioning and display to support learning to name but a few. This CPD was delivered by teachers who are at the chalk face, willing to share and inspire their peers, willing not just to deliver but to discuss ideas and share practice beyond the day itself. Participants could tailor their CPD to their individual needs by choosing the sessions that suited them best.

As an enthusiastic teacher, you can often feel like a lone geek, the only one wanting to do extra homework; Twitter, Teachmeets and Pedagoo have unearthed a community of geeks all thirsty for new knowledge to improve their practice.  Such geeks are already inspired to learn more; it is the teachers that we can liken to teenage Lisa that we really need to reach, teachers who have lost their enthusiasm, teachers who see CPD as being done to them (much like my experience in Maths). Events like Pedagoo Sunshine demonstrate that just because we are grown ups, does not mean we have to stop having fun in order to learn. Developing as professionals is vital if we are to keep standards high in schools but this does not mean sitting in rows…tents will do just fine.

No longer lone geeks but a whole community of em!

No longer lone geeks but a whole community of em!

The future of CPD is ours for the developing and if you missed out this time, don’t worry, there are far more Teachmeets to come(keep December 7th free for Pedagoo Wonderland not to mention the last Thursday of every month at Blakes coffee shop Newcastle #TMblake13). Pedagoo Sunshine is not meant to be a one off explosion, impressive but easy to forget once you return to your daily routine. It is an invite to all teachers, no matter how experienced, how new, how enthusiastic or how dissolusioned, to begin to explore the cabinet of curiosities that is our amazing profession.

Me n' Fearghal inviting you all to blog on pedagoo.org DO IT!

Me n’ Fearghal inviting you all to blog on pedagoo.org DO IT!

#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)

My first blog inspired by #PedagooSunshine

As this is my first blog allow me to introduce myself; I am Chris King (@chris1990king) currently studying towards a PGDE Secondary in Physics. I have been an avid but mainly silent follower of pedagoo for a while now, using it as a source of inspiration and ideas. However after some pressure, it’s time that I started to contribute.

In this first entry I hope to offer a summary of what I experienced from the #PedagooSunshine event at Joseph Swan Academy. Now I wasn’t always convinced that I was going to attend the event, like most Teachers and Student Teachers weekends are designated prep days. Since I am on my last placement I was obviously worried about sacrificing this prep. I would like to thank Tait Coles for offering me some sound advice and support in this dilemma and convincing me to attend. I would like to confess that I boarded the train from Edinburgh to Newcastle not with the most positive outlook, my previous week teaching had been hard and I feel that I had missed the mark on a lot of areas of my practice and was feeling really negative about myself. So turning up in Newcastle with the rain pouring down and getting soaked trying to find a bus that didn’t exist wasn’t the best start to the day.

A taxi later I was turning up at Joseph Swan and was glad for the warmth and shelter inside. Instantly my attitude started to change, I was thoroughly impressed by the staff and pupils alike. In addition I loved the ‘street’ inside the school with its murals and quotes; it must really encourage the pupils and make them feel valued.


Not long after people started to arrive, this is where I usually begin to feel anxious. Crowds of people, especially those I am unfamiliar with, make me feel very uncomfortable. However this is where the ethos of pedagoo shines through, it was really easy to approach people and there was such a relaxed environment.

From here the signs that this was to be no ordinary teach meet began to show as a steel band started to serenade us with ‘Walking on #PedagooSunshine(you can thank Alex Bellars for that pun).

During our welcome we were treated to some Twitter-Opera (from the talented @RachelOrr) and a lovely warm welcome from the Joseph Swan staff. This was followed by an introduction to Pedagoo from Fearghal Kelly: ‘What is Pedagoo?’ (Look closely you can see my name)


Off we went to our Workshops, to start the day I was with Jon Tait (@teamtait), having a rummage through his Digital Pick n Mix!

This was a great session with some amazing resources to use in class; I was particularly inspired by the use of both Skype and Triptico. There is much, much more from this session and I will try and blog about any resources that I get the chance to try out.

Fingers crossed I will get to use some skype in a class before my placement is over!


[Image Stolen from @fkelly]

Next up was ‘Cat’s tool box of attention grabbers to get them in and get them engaged‘ (@catalinelechat). This session was full of great ideas for those classes that make you feel like every day is a Monday morning. There was some great#poundlandpedagogy with lots of cheap effective activities/techniques to get them interacting and engaged. This session really emphasised that your ideas don’t need to be big to get a response; often the simple techniques such as balloons and costumes get the best reactions.

By this point the smell of roast hog was slowly making its way along the hall so we broke up for lunch. This really wasn’t any teach meet it was a Pedagoo Teach Meet! Hula-hoopers, Unicyclists and jugglers accompanied the hog roast, popcorn maker and the actual ice cream van!!

Discussion continued through the lunch over hog and apple sauce rolls.

Next up I was in with Andrea Kirton and Laura Fairhurst with ‘Off the map! Crazy things we do to enthuse our pupils’. This session was a series of workshops that looked at different ways to get pupils to interact with topics/questions. I was fortunate enough to pair up with a biologist to talk through each workstation and link it to a Science topic. Some were harder than others like having a Jeremy Kyle show debate. However when we thought hard enough together we managed to create an idea for every station! Once we had the chance to walk round all the stations we had a group discussion and in Pedagoo style managed to get even more techniques and ideas from the audience. Examples from this session varied from putting questions inside balloons and having the pupils pop them, to creating a money system where pupils can buy questions or explanations from the teacher.  They were all very useful and have been added to my little book of techniques to use.

Nearing the end, everyone had a quick session with Jon Haines, looking at the use of online surveys, such Socrative. This was a short session but the message rang loud and clear about the use of this tool in school. If you haven’t checked out Socrative yet, try it and create your own quiz:  http://m.socrative.com/lecturer/#lecturerLogin

Finally I had a session with Darren Mead about Project for Enhanced Effective Learning (PEEL). This session can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/DKMead/peelpresentation. I would highly recommend giving it a read as it discusses approaches to use in class to create a deeper learning which is more ‘purposeful, intellectually active and independent’. Really trying to get away from shallow learning and the copy notes from the board approach, it encourages pupils to question knowledge and think for themselves.

That was a quick run through of my sessions from the day, I will give a part 2 summarizing the second half of the day when I get the chance. I am so glad that I attended the event, if I hadn’t I feel that my teaching this week may have been as bad as last. But from speaking to people and attending the sessions I feel inspired to go back and strive to be better and I know that I have the support, both in terms of content but also emotionally, of the pedagoo community. Once again thank you to everyone who made #PedagooSunshine the event that it was!

I met some of the nicest people in teaching on Saturday and look forward to seeing them again!


@LGolton, @jim1982 @TeamTait and @beetlebug1

When students cheat on exams it’s because our school system values grades more than students value learning – Neil deGrasse Tyson


#PedagooSunshine & Free CPD

So yesterday I went to Pedagoo Sunshine and I promised to write a post.  It was the first TeachMeet-type event I’d attended, having started my PGCE to teach English last September.  I found the day infinitely valuable, and it has more than whetted my appetite for CPD through pedagoo, other teachmeets and the rapidly expanding network of tweachers.

I’ve been using twitter to follow other teachers since early on in my PGCE.  This has allowed me to dip into some of the blogs that they’ve written and draw on some amazing ideas to try in my placement schools (where I’ve been lucky enough to experiment with a number of strategies that other trainees might not have the fortune to experience).  Yesterday’s event took me to the next level.  I got some excellent ideas for activities and poundland pedagogy from @catalinelechat and @JOHNSAYERS, PEEL advice from @DKMead and then some great ideas for keeping my classes engaged from @BunnyScience .  It’s great to see how the attitude that has been cultivated in our PGCE course (of sharing success and ideas) translates so easily into the real world.

Of course the challenge now is to keep this momentum going throughout the remainder of my course (which includes no more teaching placements) and through the Summer to my first post, where I’m hoping I will be able to manage my time effectively enough to get the most out of my NQT year.  Pedagoo is going to be my starting point, as I hope to keep reading the posts and twitter feeds as well as starting to use TeachMeet TV and attending more events before the Summer.

Let me know if you have more advice!


Comfort Zone? It’ll be like walking on hot coals… #pedagoosunshine

First things first.

In writing this I am TOTALLY out of my comfort zone (hope that’s a big tick for me from the pedagoo team). Secondly, what is it I’m actually uncomfortable about?
Judgments? They happen frequently.
Derision? Not here.
Reflecting honestly on my own practice? …hmmm…

I was one of the many at pedagoosunshine this weekend, and like many, I left feeling inspired, curious and positive about the ideas I’d heard, the ideas I’d shared and the potential to build new friendships with colleagues I wouldn’t have normally come into contact with.

I left feeling awed at the level of learning my new found colleagues are able to inspire in their students, and it got me thinking; am I capable of doing this with the students whose minds I’m responsible for?

I’m not sure I know the answer to that question, but I will promise to try – at least once – every single one of the ideas from this weekend.

We should take the risk. We should feel uncomfortable. We should be able to look at each of our students and see that spark ignite because we’ve taken the risk that’s caught the imagination of that hard to reach student.

My promise is simple:

I promise that every week I will allow a class to do something which takes them – and me – out of our comfort zones.

I promise that we will take the steps towards a new, braver classroom where all of our minds are opened to new ideas and possibilities.

I’ll be sharing it with the students, and colleagues in the hope that they, like you, will take up that baton and try something new.

Will it be scary? Probably.
Is it guaranteed to work? Not really.
But it is possible to walk across hot coals with the right attitude…


Grow, Inspire, Share, Shine #pedagoosunshine

Sunshine that is…


We teach in a world much like Dillydale. Like the Mr Men, we are all very different. In classroom 228 you might find Little Miss Magic who, like a sorceress, is able to magically organise assessments to support students’ learning but who struggles to make learning fun. In the opposite classroom, you might find Mr Messy who creates the most inspiring learning experiences for children but cannot organise his assessment data and therefore fails to differentiate to support his students’ needs. We all have strengths and weaknesses and that is why we need effective collaboration to share expertise and support each other’s growth.

Pedagoo is an awesome place to make effective collaboration happen. The growth of Pedagoo from a conversation between Scottish educators on Twitter to what it has become is amazing. Now Pedagoo provides a platform for teachers to blog and share their expertise, a reason to come together and explore ideas about the future of education and providing inspiration to grow. Little Miss Magic does not even need to be in the same school as Mr Messy to learn from his strengths; they can come together in the positive staffroom that has been created by this awesome space.

Pedagoo events are on another level again. Inspirational but everyday teachers give up their time to provide sessions that attendees can take from and use to support the growth of their practice. These events are fun and free. Little miss Magic is able to provide simple strategies for Mr Messy and, the very next session, Mr Messy is able to return the favour by creating a master class of fun ideas. Of course Miss Magic isn’t the only one to benefit from Mr Messy’s brilliance as Mr Grumble also takes from Mr Messy’s approach to return the fun back to him room that was taken away by his excellent behaviour management techniques. Do not be fooled by his name as Mr Grumble, like every educator,  has plenty to offer; he puts on a surgery to inspire ITT students who are worried about controlling their classes. His experience is valuable and appreciated.

Pedagoo isn’t passive; it isn’t about listening to what others do and feeling inadequate about your own practice. It is about real life collaboration between nationwide colleagues who all have something to offer no matter who they are. We all arrive as equals; we are all there to grow our practice and learning community, to be inspired by the positivity of other professionals, to share thoughts, ideas and resources.

Our next event (for details and sign up follow this link) Pedagoo Sunshine, takes place on May 18th at Joseph Swan Academy and promises to well worth attending. This festival of collaboration will include lots of fun, prizes, a BBQ and of course inspirational educators sharing their expertise for your growth.  Every Monday, during staff briefing, Joseph Swan’s Head Teacher Heather Scott reminds us that this is a school where “everyone can shine.” If we take the time that Pedagoo events offer us to grow our practice, share our ideas, inspire and be inspired, no matter whether you are Miss Sunshine or Mr Grumpy, we all have the ability to shine. 

Our Next Event Will be the Best Yet! Get involved.