After sadly having to skip Northern Rocks last weekend, I was excited to be attending PedagooSW this weekend. Sure, it was in Bristol, but what’s a 400 mile round trip for Saturday CPD when you’re getting to hang out with some of the coolest people in education?
My attendance at this event came about, as many good things do, via Twitter. Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist) sent out a call for someone to make him a cake with the Pedagoo logo. Despite my completely amateur cake decorating skills, I agreed to not only make the cake, but drive it down there. He also asked for photos of the process as part of his workshop presentation. You can see the photos here.
One thing that happens to me very often is that when I’m introduced to people, it goes something like: “This is Sarah, she’s Australian.” I had a new one yesterday – everybody knew me as the cake woman. I walked into Bristol Grammar School, cake in hand, to register and find out where I was supposed to go, and got met with a squeal and “I know who you are!” That was Crista Hazell (@CristaHazell), who’d been following #operationcake on Twitter. I had that a couple more times before we got started – it made a nice change to me fangirling over seeing other people in person!
Mark got the party started, following by the opening keynote from Rachel Jones (@rlj1981). Rachel hadn’t even finished her presentation before I was already feeling so glad I’d driven down for the day. Rachel talked about how we can do better for ourselves, our students and our profession, and why we should be doing that. She made some excellent points that set the tone for the day (as if 150 teachers getting together from all over England on a Saturday wasn’t setting the tone on its own).
My favourite part of her keynote, hands down, was the “Let It Go” parody at the end (well, that and having a ‘jinx’ moment with Kelly McDonagh (@MissKMcD) when it came on, “Frozen” devotees that we are!). Do yourself a favour and watch this – it’ll give you a good laugh!
Following on from the keynote, it was time for the workshop. I think the hardest part of the day was choosing who to go and see – there were just too many options! Thankfully though, in the true spirit of sharing with everybody, each workshop was filmed and put on the PedagooSW youtube channel. I will definitely be browsing through some of these when I get a little more time.
My first workshop was with David Morgan (@lessonhacker). It was a great choice – he was saying lots of things that I think so often. Things like how ‘make a powerpoint’ isn’t really the greatest of ideas for either engaging students or giving them an opportunity to stretch and demonstrate their learning. That’s a culture I definitely need to challenge at my school. I also really like the idea of the student-led Genius Bar, to allow you to get on with delivering content whilst one or two students take on the role of tech support for other students. It needs to be managed effectively, but it’s ticking over in my mind, especially as I look to kick off a Digital Leaders group in September.
Following David’s workshop, I headed up to see Martin Burrett (@ICTmagic). I’ve followed Martin on Twitter for a long time, and had several opportunities to see him in person over the past couple of years, but this was the first time it’d actually worked out for me to see him live. He didn’t disappoint – as expected, lots of ideas to try out in my lessons. I am particularly keen to work BBC’s iWonder into my lessons, as well as Canva, ZooBurst and Croak.it.
Next up was Mark’s workshop, talking about recognising the hidden struggles that people (both staff and students) bring to lessons, and how to support them. Knowing a person’s story, or at least knowing that there is a story, is hugely important to success. And of course, this was the workshop with the cake!
The message behind the cake was about the steps that go into the product that you see – when you see the cake, you only see the finished product, not the steps that went into it. Students are much the same – you see the finished product in your lesson, but knowing what’s got them to where they are helps you to reach them academically and personally.
The final workshop I attended was Rachel’s, which I was also very excited about. Having followed Rachel on Twitter for some time, I know how inspiring and creative she is, and how she thinks outside the box. If ever I feel a bit bogged down in doing the same things in the same way, I head over to see what she’s up to and give my teaching a boost. Rachel’s workshop was about ‘remixing’ your teaching – doing the same things in new ways. I walked out with some great new ideas to try. She suggests mixing up the analogue pedagogy with digital, doing analogue things in digital ways, and not reinventing everything – small changes bring small success for staff and students, and can lead to bigger changes.
Lastly it was the closing keynote from David Didau (@LearningSpy). He made some thought-provoking statements – beware consensus, we’re all wrong, etc – but to be honest not a lot of it was sinking in with me by that point!
I’d intended to stay for the #PedagooSW Teachmeet after the conference, but I was feeling a tad exhausted after a very busy couple of weeks, and still had at least three and a half hours to drive home. Thanks so much to Mark for organising the day and inviting me to be a part of it, and to all of the other presenters and attendees for getting me excited about teaching and learning in new ways!