Almost a week (or nearly two, depending on when I hit publish) and I’m finally getting round to writing my reflection of the brilliant #TLT15.
A 12- hour round trip from Durham with my colleague @JulieRyder2 was considered to be crazy, by some but for us it was just another journey to enhance and develop our knowledge. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m *a bit* enthusiastic about my work, and I was also looking forward to catching up with some Twitter and PBL colleagues I’ve met at various events locally and nationally, or converse with over Twitter.
We had also volunteered to hand out lanyards, so it was a slightly earlier start for us than the rest of the delegates and speakers we had met up with the previous evening.
I have to say I love an event and handing out the lanyards to the eager teacher beavers arriving to take in the day made me more excited. As volunteers, we could attend any session we wanted and this caused me much stress and deliberation. The choice and variety was vast, impressive and exciting. Only 5 weeks earlier I had attended ReseachEd so I made my choices based on what interested me most at this current time, in terms of my own teaching, career, department and interests.
Session 1- Jill Berry
Jill is someone I admire so much. She has always given me lovely feedback on blog posts and speaks so much sense and her session on Middle Leaders was just what I needed. My takeaways from her session were:
Departmental and Pastoral middle leaders are often pitched against one another- can you really only progress in one “route”? This really hit home to me after almost taking on a pastoral leadership role this year. Something I really regret from walking away from may not be the “big miss” I thought it was. I still lead a curriculum area, something I love doing. I still have the opportunity to have a positive influence on all the students who are in my curriculum subjects each week, day and lessons and leading music, dance and drama is so rewarding.
It’s important to have the right people on the right seats on the bus. Team. Who are they? By sharing and shaping the vision and looking after the staff, they should in turn look after the students. Focus on the bright spots and develop. “It’s not about you, it’s about the team you lead”. I am well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of my team and made me think about different ways to highlight strengths to support weaknesses. Bright spot intervention.
You need to challenge yourself to remain fresh and energised. I agree. Something I need to address really.
Session 2- Harry Fletcher-Wood
I chose this session as it was looking at mentoring staff, particularly trainees and Teach First. I had a SCITT student last year and although I received brilliant mentor training from the SCITT provider, I was keen to develop this as I knew this session would include high quality, tried and tested information and research. I really enjoyed this session and it gave me plenty to think about, especially for my current trainee. Damian Benney was an excellent role play partner and his “advice” to me as a “trainee” was excellent- particularly the “bottle it” feeling of an excellent lesson. I can definitely use information I found out in this session on my return to school in mentor sessions with my current trainee and also within my department. This session also unexpectedly linked really well with Jill’s session I had attended previously, something I hadn’t expected.
Session 3- Andy Tharby
I chose this session as it was about challenge. I love challenge. I have extremely high expectations of myself, students and my department and I have to say, this session was everything I wanted it to be.
Common sense, expertly explained, backed up by examples and reinforced by a wonderful book. Happy days.
The session confirmed to me that what I do in my curriculum area and department would benefit the students ultimately.
Set the standards high- adjust up and down from the bar.
If pace is too quick at the expense of learning, this may mean less time for mastery.
Too much focus on progression may mean to too little focus on expansion.
These three points are things we are currently addressing from last year. We planned termly “project” units and thought that we had plenty of time. Music, dance and drama lessons at KS3 share the same theme to allow more leading to take place. Despite having a whole term per unit, we still over planned so are currently “cutting back” the unnecessary content, substituting simplicity (another Tharby statement from the session), as well as tweaking, changing and re planning completely, different elements of our curriculum in our weekly departmental collaborative planning time.
I ordered the book walking to my next session- half term reading for when I return home after my break away. Make Every Lesson Count– also co- written with Shaun Allison and our deputy head Dan Brinton reckons he might have contributed to this too, not that he’s mentioned it ever…
Session 4- Bodil Isaksen
A session on using multiple choice questions was something that really interested me. I love reading Bodil’s blog so I was really excited to find out more about how MCQ’s could be implemented into my lessons, then possibly my subject, then into my curriculum area.
Bodil explained and demonstrated many different ways in which she has used these in her previous school and in her current school, Michaela Community School.
Things I really liked about this is that I could easily develop some of these techniques and that there were many different levels of “sophistication” but all gave the same end result- answers.
I also liked the way she explained pitfalls- using the right “distractor” questions, using more options per question to give a “better” answer, what methods cause too much “faff” at the end etc. Things it would be very easy to overlook as a first time user of MCQ.
I have planned some activities to use some of these methods with my KS4 classes and also Y7 when I return after half term, thanks Bodil!
Closing the day was the inspirational Chris Waugh, who asked “Have we lost our sense of wonder?” before we all decamped to the local hostelry for *at least one drink*.
Oh and I won a book as well! What a treat!
So was it worth it? The 6 hour each way journey? Definitely. As well as all of the above, I met some amazing new people, caught up with plenty of other amazing people and returned to Durham full to the top of enthusiasm once more. It’s the first #TLT event I’ve attended but will definitely be back.