Reflections on PedagooLondon15

I am quite shy and meeting new people is something that I find difficult. I was excited about coming to Pedagoo London but as I sat in a nearby park before it started I did have a moment of panic wondering what on earth I was doing. As I browsed twitter I saw a post from @aknill with a picture of his current view – I realised that we were in the same park and tweeted back. Within a few minutes he had found me and we walked to the IOE together – thanks Andy, it made things a lot less scary to not go in on my own.

Thanks also to @hgaldinoshea for organising the event. It was lovely to finally meet @KDWScience and @rondelle10_b – both of whom I’ve shared many ideas with over the last year or so. It was also good to make connections with other people. I am glad that I attended.

Phil Stock @joeybagstock kicked things off by asking if we were ”Mugs, martyrs or idealistic fools” to be doing CPD at the weekend. When I’ve told friends and sometimes colleagues about what I was doing at the weekend they have usually responded with ‘why’? For me it isn’t because I think that the CPD I’ve had at school wasn’t right (some of it was very good) but the reason I came to Pedagoo London is because I’m interested in teaching and learning and I wanted to meet some of the people that I connect with regularly via twitter.  A member of my SLT asked me if I’d gone to the event because I was after a new job – it’s not that either!

The first session that I attended was by Dawn Cox @MissDCox looking at life without levels. This is something that is being developed at school at the moment and so it seemed like a sensible choice. Dawn shared the model that she has developed for RE and talked about being aware of what we were trying to assess- are we trying to measure things that can’t be measured? Dawn had identified the key skills that were needed and how these would be developed – something that I have been thinking about for my own subject. I also liked the idea of using no stakes multiple choice questions where one of the options is ‘I don’t know’.

Next I went to Looking for Literacy by @KDWScience. I found myself nodding in agreement as Karen talked about the problems that students have with literacy. One of the important things that I took away from this session is that literacy isn’t just about writing. Sometimes when I am thinking about ways to improve the literacy of my students I think only about writing and how I can support them to do this better. Karen talked about speaking, listening, understanding, reading AND writing – and this is something that I need to think about more when I am planning for my classes.

Karen spoke about targeting ‘Sloppy speech’ and the importance of getting students to not only use the right terminology but to speak in full sentences etc.

”If you can speak it, you can write it. ”

How many times have students said that they know what the question is about, they just don’t know how to write it. By getting students to verbalise their answers, they will be better prepared to write them down. This is definitely something that I could do more of. As an undergraduate student I clearly remember one of my lecturers telling us that he had banned the use of ”woolly words” in our essays (stuff, lots, non specific language) and I do model this with students – asking them (or others) to clarify what they mean using relevant terminology – but perhaps I could do this more often to help students to develop their writing. Definitely something to work on.

The thing that struck me most about ‘A recipe for deep learning’ by @cristahazell and @candidagould  was the passion with which they talked about learning. Listening to someone who clearly loves what they do reminds me of what I love about my job and why I want to do it better. They talked about preparing our students for life beyond our classroom and apart from the sweets (that went down well) we were able to take away some resources too and suggestions for further reading – very helpful. The session was an active one and we were encouraged to discuss factors affecting deep learning with the people that we were sat with and also to reflect on what we do well and what we can do better.

Michael Smyth @tlamjs took us on a whirlwind tour of some simple but effective ideas to improve teaching and learning. I found this session really helpful and came away with loads of ideas that I can use in my classroom. The concept behind the session was about making small changes that can have a big impact. I really liked the ‘Randomness’ – I’ve used a random generator to pick students before but we were shown other examples – keywords, command words, exam questions – possibilities are endless. Another idea I really liked was ‘Patience’ – not just waiting for an answer but also waiting once they have answered as they might elaborate on their answer if  you don’t respond straight away. I look forward to trying out some of the ideas. One thing I have been trying (and failing) to forget about this session was the image of the jaffa cake man!

@mike_gunn started his session with thumb wars! I don’t think I’ve ever done this before but it was great fun. Mike talked about why we should flip learning, the challenges and issues and also shared some resources. Students at my school are not allowed to use their phones in school but I still found the session useful as there were ideas that I could use to help with setting homework. Lots for me to think about and explore.

Summer Turner @ragazza_inglese summed up the day and talked about positive activism – how we have the power to make changes happen in our classroom and in our schools and that we should be brave.

There were also some lovely reflections at the #teacher5aday exhibition set up by @MartynReah. A lovely day, I left feeling inspired to try new ideas and it was lovely to put faces to twitter names and to make new connections.

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