One of the many beauties about a teachmeet is that at the very least you always come away from them having learnt something new! Coupling this with making new contacts across your PLN (personal learning network), possibly winning a raffle prize, the general buzz from engaging with other like-minded educators and the pervasive culture amongst the participants to develop their practice. Perhaps it’s the inherent drive within me to always know more that enjoys hearing other people’s experiences, contexts and perspectives within education. There is always something to be learnt from others, everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don’t.
#TMReading18 last week was all of the above and more for me. Action Jackson compered the event bringing his positive energy, enthusiasm and love for things educational so it comes as no surprise that the event got off to a great start and maintained such a trajectory with Action leading the way. Presentations covered a wide range of topics from teaching and learning strategies, what you know, whole school wellbeing, elaborative retrieval, EduHacks, teaching like a plumber, effective edtech use, AR in the classroom and many more. I won’t cover every presentation this time but just a few that particularly resonated with me – more information on the event and all the presenters can be found on Anshi‘s blog here.
A Pirate’s Favourite EdTech – AR!
Mark Anderson gave us the opening keynote sharing a plethora of ideas to use in the classroom and spoke of the importance of using technology as a pedagogical tool, reminding us not to focus on the technological tool but on the learning and its evidence. He also made the great point about using edtech that if it takes too long to set up or it is a distraction then it’s likely not fit for purpose. He shared a few AR and AFL tools that you can use to enhance the learning experience in the classroom and the pupils can use to demonstrate their learning such as Virtuali-Tee, Quizlet, screen recording hacks for iOS and Android, Adobe, PhotoFunia and Typorama. I always enjoy it when Mark shares ideas as he always links them to their pedagogical value in a classroom setting and reminds us that it’s the learning that’s important not the technology.
It is always a pleasure to see, listen and learn from Hannah Wilson as she truly is making a dent in education by leading with her ‘why.’ The way she began her presentation speaks volumes about the type of leader she is. She was the closing keynote, bearing in mind the event had overrun by 45+ minutes and it was gone 8 pm, she started by asking “who wants to go? It’s late, you’ve been here a while and you all have families to go home to. Don’t be British and polite if you want/need to go then please do.” Now I am not sure that many people would be as honest and open as Hannah was here, reading the situation and highlighting that we’d all had bags of CPD already from the event and our families were waiting for us and everyone was a little tired by this point. Needless to say, everyone stayed to listen! Hannah spoke from the heart about why we should focus on our ‘why’ and our values, be a positive force for good and thrive not just survive in schools. As Hannah says we all need to be the catalysts for a value-led system and live those values out loud!
Leadership & Learning
Another talk which resonated with me was that of a friend of mine, David Watkins, who gave his first presentation at a teachmeet and smashed it! David spoke about ‘6 lessons in leadership and learning’ from his journey over the past 18 months. He highlighted the importance of creating a collective identity and taking ownership, no matter what the task, when developing a positive culture with your pupils and schools. He also discussed the importance of expecting and embedding excellence while also challenging our pupils and how this leads to higher standards in schools. This can be achieved by assigning work that matters, studying examples of excellence, fostering a culture of critique amongst the pupils where multiple revisions are expected plus giving pupils the chance to publicly present their learning. A great reflective presentation which made me think deeply about my own practice and where I want my learners to head.
Safe Spaces In Schools
Clare gave a wonderful presentation on creating safe spaces in our schools to support the mental health of our pupils. She went into some of the initiatives she has launched in her school, highlighting that it was a school’s responsibility to ensure that the rights of all the pupils are upheld and embedded in school culture. We should give pupils more control and we need to listen more when it comes to the safe spaces in our schools, for the maximum impact these spaces must be open consistently with trained staff and pupils ready to listen. Clare’s talk had me thinking about how we can improve on this in my current school and whether most schools offer such rich support systems.
Here are the slides from my presentation on 5 EduHacks that I use within my teaching and across my team which are Quizizz for low stakes retrieval practice and assessment, Google Team Drives to aid collaboration and improving workflow, Noble Doughnut for tutor times, Adobe Spark for a different way to evidence learning and Play-Doh for modelling. Have a flick through my presentation below for a more detailed set of examples are reasons as to why I use them.
I hope you find some of those tools useful in your classroom or within your teams, I’d love to hear how you use some of them so please feel free to tweet me and let me know how you got on.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post and next time a teachmeet is near you don’t hesitate, go!