Reflecting on another epic weekend in Southampton, I’m reminded of why I make the 600 mile round trip each year and one word springs energetically to mind. Community. Sometimes we become so lost in our teacher bubble of expectations and deadlines that we forget we’re not an island. TLT always manages to remind me of that. Even more so this year, as I went representing my favourite teaching community, @pedagoo. This notion of community beyond the ‘we’re all in it together’ idea, is more progressive, ‘we’re all in it together, to make a positive change together‘ which is what I’ve taken from my #TLT15 experience this year.
It started with Lisa Ashes (@lisajaneashes) in her session speaking candidly about the importance (and additional difficulties) of relationships with her pupils as a non-permanent member of staff. Being a supply teacher shouldn’t mean that those relationships are any less valuable, you just need to work harder to make them meaningful. We explored the significance of breaking down barriers and looking at ourselves, exploring the motivations behind behaviours (both ours and theirs!) and considering ways of avoiding ‘self-blindness’ to promote a positive climate for all involved, in relation to Grice’s Maxims. The way that we communicate with our pupils and in turn, the way that they communicate with each other is so vital. A simple point but so important to remember when we’re dealing with not only our pupils, but our colleagues too. The final slide and overarching message ‘Don’t be a twat!’ is worth remembering, whatever your context.
During lunchtime I was able to talk with lots of enthusiastic people who had come across Pedagoo in various ways: though the blog Pedagoo.org, via the Twitter hashtag #pedagoofriday or through being involved with Pedagoo events over recent months. It was truly great to be be able to chat with them about their ideas and how they could become more involved with the community. Again, another simple concept: share the positivity from your classroom. So simple and so effective, Pedagoo has such a positive impact on so many teachers and continues to grow on a daily basis.
Next it was time to catch up with Colin Goffin (@Colingoffin)and it had been a while. I like the way Colin works, he uses the TEEP principles that I’ve always followed and I enjoy the fact that his varied experiences continue to impact heavily on how he ‘does’ things. I was looking forward to hearing about his most recent (and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying), fairly controversial move in to the realm of the Multi-Academy Trust, and interested to hear about his motivations and progress. I wasn’t disappointed. Motivated by the desire to raise the aspirations and prospects of pupils in his home town, his own community; while simultaneously changing the wider mindset is a valiant cause. I am genuinely looking forward to following his progress.
Kev Bartle (@kevbartle) always tells it how it is (usually with the help of a great metaphor) and his session structured around the Education Matrix, promised to share with us only the truth. Having decided to take red pill, we were then guided in to a series of brilliantly reflective questions structured around Dee Hock’s book Birth of the Chaordic Age, which challenged our current experiences of education and inspired us to be agents of change. Bartle’s final thought, ‘You’re in control of your own life. Remember?’ This rang true with me as I’m sure it did for everyone else in the room. As a community we can not only inspire, but motivate and work together to make the changes that we want to see.
The closing key note from Chris Waugh (@Edutronic_net) asked us if we had ‘lost our sense of wonder’ and reminded us of the significance of our role and why we should never be afraid to push the boundaries, being creative and inspiring to provide the best possible learning community for our pupils. He urged us to challenge and seek out and experiment to ensure we do our best for them. A fitting message on which to end.
And so for me the overarching notion of a community; be it pupil learners, teacher learners, supportive professionals or agents of change, provided the strand that linked together all of the sessions. Working together, sharing ideas, experiences and our passions, listening and learning from our daily interactions is how we move forward. Lisa put it well, ‘Be present. Listen’ in order to be great. I think days like today ensure that we are able to develop ourselves and in turn our learning community; ultimately showing we’re better together!