Sunday, 22 June 2014

Pedagoo SouthWest 2014

It has been a week and a day since I went to Pedagoo South West and it has given me time to reflect on what  I saw, heard and thought about during the event.

The welcome from Bristol Grammar School was great and the main hall is an amazing room to spend time in. The tea and biscuits was very welcome. Emma Payne did a great job collecting the prizes for the raffle, very impressive.

I enjoyed Rachel Jones' key note speech. I enjoyed the comment about twitter and dichotomies, oh how I hate straw men when they get thrown about in arguments. I also agree with Rachel that there is no right way to teach.

To me her presentation may have consisted in a series of what might be described  as sound bites, but they summed up the positivity that we can feel as teachers when we want to. It was important for me to start the day by thinking about the bigger picture and realising the importance and solidarity that teachers can feel.Rachel's passion was a great way to start the day!

The video made by Rachel and her students was a real high point of the day:

For a while now I have been thinking that I must force myself to go to CPD and INSET sessions that I aren't in areas that I am currently interested in. Why? Because I often don't learn anything as I will have already investigated, and CPD can end up as a disappointment.

So with this in mind I went to Paula Worth's session about teaching a knowledge-rich curriculum. I went partly because of the knowledge vs skills debate on twitter. That debate actually leaves me cold as it often involves the word dichotomy. I have tried to keep myself out of this debate. However, it was interesting that Paula seemed to say it was a real issue in History. It made it more real.

I was very impressed by the activities she outlined in the ways that she scaffolds students using their knowledge in a skill based activity such as a debate. Facts to outline the points they were making were important. The session certainly made me wonder if I can think of more creative activities for students to learn from. I am glad I went.

After that I went to Robert Massey's session about gifted and talented students. This is another area that I don't have a great deal of interest in. Years of hearing about G&T, but not ever working at a school that had this area sorted has turned me off it as a concept. I actually found it very interesting to be able to drill down into what another independent school does. I hadn't made the connection between 'scholarships' and 'G&T', and I felt a little silly when the penny dropped.

It was certainly a session that made me think about what we do at school and what we do in our department. I need to take more responsibility to ensure that I am confident I know who our scholars are and consider how best to interact with them.

I like the idea of teaching to the top. It can be difficult to do this when SLT (not my current managers, they are reasonable) expect to see specific G&T resources.

After a short break and a cup of tea I stayed in the hall to hear Nick Dennis speak about multipliers. I realised that I hadn't been subject to a leadership talk for a while, and it is always useful to reflect on this area of being a teacher, middle leader and future senior leader. Currently my focus is science education and I have lost my passion for school leadership as a topic.

Nick first talked about diminishers:

And made a comment that I know I have to take more notice of. I have encountered it from managers, but I am still guilty of being 'always on' myself. Taking on too much and trying to implement it all can be as damaging to leadership and those who are being led. 

Nick talked about giving someone within the group, but not in the highest leadership position the casting vote. I can see how this might be useful. But I do wonder if people realise they are having a leadership game played on them and resist? I would! 

The rescuer is an interesting title. I have worked with SLT who really enjoy having this role! I did enjoy all the descriptions of people as they did make me think about real situations and were personas that I could relate to.

It is always useful to reflect on leadership in education and how our actions induce behaviour in others, and on the team we want to lead. I certainly don't feel like a multiplier at the moment.

The last session was by Chris Hildrew. "Closing the Gap" marking. He said himself that he had borrowed from others across the web, and did acknowledge them in his talk. 

I went this talk because marking and planning for marking is something that I know I can be better at. 

He put together all the little pieces about marking and feedback from around the web, and it was really great to have it all sewn together. My favourite piece of the day was the handout from Chris with 12 ideas for marking and feedback.

I came out of the session feeling that Chew Valley School must be a great place to work.

The day ended with a talk from David Didau, it was a shame that we struggled to see his presentation because he stood between the projector and the screen.

David was talking about his premise 'what if we are all wrong'? 

Great afternoon. 

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