Last Saturday I dragged myself out of bed at stupid o’clock to catch a train to London for what promised to be a fantastic day of inspiring CPD. I wasn’t disappointed! I arrived at Euston just before 8.30, and wandered around for a little while before parking myself in the sunshine at Russell Square with my kindle for a little relaxation. I eventually wandered off on a cronut mission which turned out to be an epic fail (damn Wild and Wood for not putting a message on their site that they have closed temporarily!), and headed back to the Institute of Education. I had one of those moments walking down the street where I was pretty sure I knew the person in front of me but was too shy to ask – turns out it was indeed Andy Knill.
We went upstairs and I took a seat in the room where the keynote was to be held, in all its glorious air conditioned wonder. The keynote was fantastic. Phil Bagstock gave a funny but pertinent presentation about whether or not we are all mugs, matyrs or idealistic fools for spending our own cash and giving up our weekends for CPD. Of course, we’re not – we’re sensible people taking charge of our own CPD and benefiting from it immensely. He also talked about schools that have shiny, modern front buildings, but leaking classrooms etc hiding behind. It’s a common story, and similar to the situation at my school.
From there it was a quick minute to catch up with some lovely Twitter and Staffrm friends before heading into the first session. I chose to see Rachael Edgar, and was very pleased with my choice. She’s a History teacher-turned-English superstar. She had boundless ideas from her department, some of which were twists on what I’m already doing, but some really simple ‘light bulb’ ideas that made me wonder why I hadn’t already thought of them! I’ve got loads of ideas to try out when I get back into a full teaching phase in September.
My second session was with Chris Curtis and was about the link between planning, progress and marking. Again, it was twists on what I’m already doing, but a new perspective on existing practice can often lead to wholesale changes. I’m very excited to implement a combination of what he’s suggested in terms of targets for students to use in self and peer assessment, with the verbal feedback ideas I picked up at the SSAT Achievement Show the week before (more on that later).
I was very excited about session three with Crista Hazell and Candida Gould. Their session was about deep learning, which is something we’ve been planning for and working towards lately. It was great to get the perspective of two such enthusiastic and motivating women. I loved the idea of the ‘ingredients’ of deep learning and we had some very interesting conversations trying to figure out the importance of each in a diamond nine activity.
I had plans to see Michael Smyth after the coffee break, but several of us went outside to enjoy the sunshine and by the time we got back, the session was really full. I figured a break at that point wasn’t a bad thing and ended up ditching a whole session.
My final session was on flipped learning, led by Mike Gunn. My headteacher has been harping on about flipped learning for about 18 months, and I’ve been putting him off because we don’t have wifi across the school at the moment. A lot of the staff I would like to start this with are in those dead zones, and whilst I’ve felt bad about telling him it’s not likely to work, to me it was kind of a fait accompli. Mike’s session, whilst not being entirely new information for me, gave me a bit of hope that actually I can try it out and hopefully make it work. I’ve since worked out a bit of a plan and approached some staff to give it a try. Mike was really honest about challenges and pitfalls, which again weren’t especially new to me given all the reading I’ve done about flipped learning, but his session (and his debate on Twitter later that evening) have definitely inspired me to at least give it a crack.
The plenary was led by Summer Turner, and the comment that really stuck with me was the idea of positive activism – not settling for the status quo but being the change you want to see in your school.
What I really love about Pedgaoo events is that they are led by practising teachers. I have nothing against consultants, but hearing from people who are still in the classroom every day always seems to make the message more valid, somehow. A big thanks and well done to Hélène Galdin-O’Shea – it can’t have been easy to organise but it was brilliant. I have quite the to-do list of things to try now – roll on September!