Monthly Archives: May 2010

TeachMeet hits its fourth birthday: Coming of Age⤴

from @ Islay ICT

Edu2020: Ian Stuart & Andy Wallis 

TeachMeet is entering its fifth year and the unconference for teachers, by teachers has helped hundreds - maybe thousands, in fact - to try out something new, alter the way they already teach and learn, join a community of innovative educators or completely transform their way of working.
The hope was that the model would spread. It has, but as those who have created and helped pull TeachMeet together over the past four years, we want to see it spread further, deeper and with increasing quality of input from practitioners. This post outlines how we think we might manage this.
This is the beginnings of a conversation with those who care about TeachMeet. Add your views in the form of any blog post or comment or tweet - tag it #tmfuture
What are the goals of TeachMeet?
TeachMeet was originally designed to:

  • Take thinking away from the formal, often commercialised conference floor, and provide a safe place for anyone to pitch their practice
  • Provide a forum for more teachers to talk about real learning happening in real places, than one-hour conference seminar slots allow
  • Showcase emerging practice that we could all aim to undertake; sales pitches not allowed
  • Be all about the Teach, with only a nod towards tech that paved the way for new practice.
  • Provoke new ways of sharing our stories: PowerPoint was banned. We wanted people to tell stories in ways that challenged them, and the audience
  • Empower the audience to critique, ask questions and probe, all online, through SMS or, later, Twitter.

Over the years, these 'rules' have altered, leading to some great innovations, others less so. The answer to "What is a TeachMeet?" has become a myriad of meanings, some pretty far off the original goals. We need to help and support people to organise, run and contribute to events that build on previous ones. We need to make TeachMeet as accessible to newbies as it was in 2005. We need TeachMeet to once more find its focus.
Supporting the "infectiousness" of TeachMeets

Organising TeachMeets should not be easy. Taking part in them should be. But more support is needed for organisers:

  • Sponsorship is hard if there's no bank account into which funds can be sent
  • Without sponsorship, any event over 30 people becomes tricky to organise while also giving people a special night of learning, the time, space and mood that gets people over their self-conscious selves
  • Paying for refreshments and venues is impossible if there's no organisation to pay them the precise sum.
  • The best TeachMeets provide social space, social activity, entertaining MCs, good refreshments, good online coverage and some form of online 'conclusion' - this needs coordinating by the organiser(s), but it's not a skill everyone will have the first time around.
  • We've got a superb opportunity to curate the best bits from all these TeachMeets that are happening weekly - this needs a degree of oversight.

A means to make TeachMeet more sustainable, easier to use for sponsors and organisers, and have the ability to do something spectacular
TeachMeet is owned by the community that shape it - but there needs to be a body to manage sponsorship and sponsors, and provide support for new organisers so that they maintain the TeachMeet goals. We assume that if someone is organising a 'TeachMeet' they would like to emulate the success of those popular early TeachMeets, and better-supported national conference ones (e.g. SLF and BETT).
What would support from the TeachMeet body look like?
  • Seeking of sponsorship all year round - including ways and means to get your message to as many teachers as possible
  • Brokerage of sponsorship - i.e. one place sponsors and those seeking sponsorship can come together, in a transparent manner
  • Recommendation of onsite support (good venues at discounted rates/free, A/V, event organisation [for bigger venues], catering etc)
  • Suggestions for various formats that have worked in the past
  • Mentoring from previous TeachMeet leaders including on-the-night help
  • Featuring of content and promotion of the event in a timely manner on an aggregated, higher profile TeachMeet site
  • A group calendar so that events can be seen by geography and date
  • Promotion of TeachMeet through international and national events, using contacts of existing TeachMeeters
  • In-event publicity (e.g. if you plan an event at a regional ICT day or national event, then we can help broker paper materials for insertion into packs etc)

But, above all, TeachMeet is reaching a point of saturation in the UK - things are going really well in terms of enthusing teachers about their own learning. We have a great opportunity to carry over a small proportion of the sponsorship and contributions towards creating a TeachMeet culture in countries where teacher professional development in this way is still blocked by barriers physical, financial or cultural. This is just one idea, harboured for a long time but unable to realise in the current setup.
This body can take the form of:
  • A Limited company (with a Director and shareholders)
  • A Charitable Limited Company, with a board of directors and voting rights for fellow 'shareholders' (we could work out some way of people being 'awarded' shares based on [non-financial] involvement?)
  • A Social Enterprise, perhaps formed as a Limited Company (see more information on what this means and how it might work (pdf))
  • A Charity (this feels like a lot more red tape to pull through and perhaps not entirely necessary)

As we take things forward we invite you to contribute your ideas and thoughts to make things work smoothly. We want you to comment, probe and make your own suggestions before the end of June, using the tag #tmfuture

TeachMeet hits its fourth birthday: Coming of Age⤴

from @ Islay ICT

Edu2020: Ian Stuart & Andy Wallis 

TeachMeet is entering its fifth year and the unconference for teachers, by teachers has helped hundreds - maybe thousands, in fact - to try out something new, alter the way they already teach and learn, join a community of innovative educators or completely transform their way of working.
The hope was that the model would spread. It has, but as those who have created and helped pull TeachMeet together over the past four years, we want to see it spread further, deeper and with increasing quality of input from practitioners. This post outlines how we think we might manage this.
This is the beginnings of a conversation with those who care about TeachMeet. Add your views in the form of any blog post or comment or tweet - tag it #tmfuture
What are the goals of TeachMeet?
TeachMeet was originally designed to:

  • Take thinking away from the formal, often commercialised conference floor, and provide a safe place for anyone to pitch their practice
  • Provide a forum for more teachers to talk about real learning happening in real places, than one-hour conference seminar slots allow
  • Showcase emerging practice that we could all aim to undertake; sales pitches not allowed
  • Be all about the Teach, with only a nod towards tech that paved the way for new practice.
  • Provoke new ways of sharing our stories: PowerPoint was banned. We wanted people to tell stories in ways that challenged them, and the audience
  • Empower the audience to critique, ask questions and probe, all online, through SMS or, later, Twitter.

Over the years, these 'rules' have altered, leading to some great innovations, others less so. The answer to "What is a TeachMeet?" has become a myriad of meanings, some pretty far off the original goals. We need to help and support people to organise, run and contribute to events that build on previous ones. We need to make TeachMeet as accessible to newbies as it was in 2005. We need TeachMeet to once more find its focus.
Supporting the "infectiousness" of TeachMeets

Organising TeachMeets should not be easy. Taking part in them should be. But more support is needed for organisers:

  • Sponsorship is hard if there's no bank account into which funds can be sent
  • Without sponsorship, any event over 30 people becomes tricky to organise while also giving people a special night of learning, the time, space and mood that gets people over their self-conscious selves
  • Paying for refreshments and venues is impossible if there's no organisation to pay them the precise sum.
  • The best TeachMeets provide social space, social activity, entertaining MCs, good refreshments, good online coverage and some form of online 'conclusion' - this needs coordinating by the organiser(s), but it's not a skill everyone will have the first time around.
  • We've got a superb opportunity to curate the best bits from all these TeachMeets that are happening weekly - this needs a degree of oversight.

A means to make TeachMeet more sustainable, easier to use for sponsors and organisers, and have the ability to do something spectacular
TeachMeet is owned by the community that shape it - but there needs to be a body to manage sponsorship and sponsors, and provide support for new organisers so that they maintain the TeachMeet goals. We assume that if someone is organising a 'TeachMeet' they would like to emulate the success of those popular early TeachMeets, and better-supported national conference ones (e.g. SLF and BETT).
What would support from the TeachMeet body look like?
  • Seeking of sponsorship all year round - including ways and means to get your message to as many teachers as possible
  • Brokerage of sponsorship - i.e. one place sponsors and those seeking sponsorship can come together, in a transparent manner
  • Recommendation of onsite support (good venues at discounted rates/free, A/V, event organisation [for bigger venues], catering etc)
  • Suggestions for various formats that have worked in the past
  • Mentoring from previous TeachMeet leaders including on-the-night help
  • Featuring of content and promotion of the event in a timely manner on an aggregated, higher profile TeachMeet site
  • A group calendar so that events can be seen by geography and date
  • Promotion of TeachMeet through international and national events, using contacts of existing TeachMeeters
  • In-event publicity (e.g. if you plan an event at a regional ICT day or national event, then we can help broker paper materials for insertion into packs etc)

But, above all, TeachMeet is reaching a point of saturation in the UK - things are going really well in terms of enthusing teachers about their own learning. We have a great opportunity to carry over a small proportion of the sponsorship and contributions towards creating a TeachMeet culture in countries where teacher professional development in this way is still blocked by barriers physical, financial or cultural. This is just one idea, harboured for a long time but unable to realise in the current setup.
This body can take the form of:
  • A Limited company (with a Director and shareholders)
  • A Charitable Limited Company, with a board of directors and voting rights for fellow 'shareholders' (we could work out some way of people being 'awarded' shares based on [non-financial] involvement?)
  • A Social Enterprise, perhaps formed as a Limited Company (see more information on what this means and how it might work (pdf))
  • A Charity (this feels like a lot more red tape to pull through and perhaps not entirely necessary)

As we take things forward we invite you to contribute your ideas and thoughts to make things work smoothly. We want you to comment, probe and make your own suggestions before the end of June, using the tag #tmfuture

TeachMeet hits its fourth birthday: Coming of Age⤴

from

TeachMeet is entering its fifth year and the unconference for teachers, by teachers has helped hundreds – maybe thousands, in fact – to try out something new, alter the way they already teach and learn, join a community of innovative educators or completely transform their way of working.

The hope was that the model would spread. It has, but as those who have created and helped pull TeachMeet together over the past four years, we want to see it spread further, deeper and with increasing quality of input from practitioners. This post outlines how we think we might manage this. This is the beginnings of a conversation with those who care about TeachMeet. Add your views in the form of any blog post or comment or tweet – tag it #tmfuture

What are the goals of TeachMeet?
TeachMeet was originally designed to:

  • Take thinking away from the formal, often commercialised conference floor, and provide a safe place for anyone to pitch their practice
  • Provide a forum for more teachers to talk about real learning happening in real places, than one-hour conference seminar slots allow
  • Showcase emerging practice that we could all aim to undertake; sales pitches not allowed
  • Be all about the Teach, with only a nod towards tech that paved the way for new practice.
  • Provoke new ways of sharing our stories: PowerPoint was banned. We wanted people to tell stories in ways that challenged them, and the audience
  • Empower the audience to critique, ask questions and probe, all online, through SMS or, later, Twitter.

Over the years, these ‘rules’ have altered, leading to some great innovations, others less so. The answer to “What is a TeachMeet?” has become a myriad of meanings, some pretty far off the original goals. We need to help and support people to organise, run and contribute to events that build on previous ones. We need to make TeachMeet as accessible to newbies as it was in 2005. We need TeachMeet to once more find its focus.

Supporting the “infectiousness” of TeachMeets
Organising TeachMeets should not be easy. Taking part in them should be. But more support is needed for organisers:

  • Sponsorship is hard if there’s no bank account into which funds can be sent
  • Without sponsorship, any event over 30 people becomes tricky to organise while also giving people a special night of learning, the time, space and mood that gets people over their self-conscious selves
  • Paying for refreshments and venues is impossible if there’s no organisation to pay them the precise sum.
  • The best TeachMeets provide social space, social activity, entertaining MCs, good refreshments, good online coverage and some form of online ‘conclusion’ – this needs coordinating by the organiser(s), but it’s not a skill everyone will have the first time around.

We’ve got a superb opportunity to curate the best bits from all these TeachMeets that are happening weekly – this needs a degree of oversight.

A means to make TeachMeet more sustainable, easier to use for sponsors and organisers, and have the ability to do something spectacular
TeachMeet is owned by the community that shape it – but there needs to be a body to manage sponsorship and sponsors, and provide support for new organisers so that they maintain the TeachMeet goals. We assume that if someone is organising a ‘TeachMeet’ they would like to emulate the success of those popular early TeachMeets, and better-supported national conference ones (e.g. SLF and BETT).

What would support from the TeachMeet body look like?

  • Seeking of sponsorship all year round – including ways and means to get your message to as many teachers as possible
  • Brokerage of sponsorship – i.e. one place sponsors and those seeking sponsorship can come together, in a transparent manner
  • Recommendation of onsite support (good venues at discounted rates/free, A/V, event organisation [for bigger venues], catering etc)
  • Suggestions for various formats that have worked in the past
  • Mentoring from previous TeachMeet leaders including on-the-night help
  • Featuring of content and promotion of the event in a timely manner on an aggregated, higher profile TeachMeet site
  • A group calendar so that events can be seen by geography and date
  • Promotion of TeachMeet through international and national events, using contacts of existing TeachMeeters
  • In-event publicity (e.g. if you plan an event at a regional ICT day or national event, then we can help broker paper materials for insertion into packs etc)

But, above all, TeachMeet is reaching a point of saturation in the UK – things are going really well in terms of enthusing teachers about their own learning. We have a great opportunity to carry over a small proportion of the sponsorship and contributions towards creating a TeachMeet culture in countries where teacher professional development in this way is still blocked by barriers physical, financial or cultural. This is just one idea, harboured for a long time but unable to realise in the current setup.

This body can take the form of:

  • A Limited company (with a Director and shareholders)
  • A Charitable Limited Company, with a board of directors and voting rights for fellow ‘shareholders’ (we could work out some way of people being ‘awarded’ shares based on [non-financial] involvement?)
  • A Social Enterprise, perhaps formed as a Limited Company (see more information on what this means and how it might work (pdf))
  • A Charity (this feels like a lot more red tape to pull through and perhaps not entirely necessary)

As we take things forward we invite you to contribute your ideas and thoughts to make things work smoothly. We want you to comment, probe and make your own suggestions before the end of June, using the tag #tmfuture

Busy week!⤴

from

Not been finding time to keep blog up to date as much as I had planned. This is the hectic time of year where there is so much to do and so little time. Why do we never plan school events across the whole year?

My reports are done, just some national test levels to be added, running a parents workshop tomorrow night, and got a final presentation to make on Wednesday at To Lead or Not to Lead leadership course run by Falkirk council. Also got two TLCs to fit in before end of June! Im sure i’ll manage.

MSc going fine and it now seems to be definite that successfully completion will also lead to attainment for Standard for Headship (SQH). But i’m a couple of years from finishing off. I posted my latest 1000 word discussion and now awaiting for a few others to post theirs so that I can find one to reply to.

Also looking in to applying for GTCS recognition in leadership and my work with teacher learning communities. Would be pleased to hear from any colleagues who have done this already.

Mythologising Creativity⤴

from @ ICT-Echo

I was recently reading David Warlick's blog posting - Is this Creativity and was indirectly inspired to write some of my thoughts about creativity, here they are...

I'm always concerned when I read about creativity in teaching. The use of the word "creativity" is often used inappropriately or in an ill-defined way. It's often used in the Arts to create a division with the Sciences. It is often mistaken for novelty. It is also believed to be innate.

Firstly I believe that creativity is the ability to form a thought in your head not an ability to communicate it. So I can imagine a beautiful sunset but I can't draw it or write a poem to communicate it. I separate the act of thinking from the artistry that you use to communicate the idea. When a teacher judges artistry instead of creativity (imagination) they tend to associate the artistic talent as an inborn trait. This adds to the mythologising of the concept of creativity.

The next issue is that we react to the novelty of an idea: we tend to categorise work as creative when it appear new to us or appeals to our aesthetic sensibility. Teachers praise novelty over creativity. When a pupil impresses us with an idea that we didn't expect we categorise them as creative. When they demonstrate artistry that is beyond the teachers ability we categorise them as creative.

Mythologising Creativity⤴

from @ ICT-Echo

I was recently reading David Warlick's blog posting - Is this Creativity and was indirectly inspired to write some of my thoughts about creativity, here they are...

I'm always concerned when I read about creativity in teaching. The use of the word "creativity" is often used inappropriately or in an ill-defined way. It's often used in the Arts to create a division with the Sciences. It is often mistaken for novelty. It is also believed to be innate.

Firstly I believe that creativity is the ability to form a thought in your head not an ability to communicate it. So I can imagine a beautiful sunset but I can't draw it or write a poem to communicate it. I separate the act of thinking from the artistry that you use to communicate the idea. When a teacher judges artistry instead of creativity (imagination) they tend to associate the artistic talent as an inborn trait. This adds to the mythologising of the concept of creativity.

The next issue is that we react to the novelty of an idea: we tend to categorise work as creative when it appear new to us or appeals to our aesthetic sensibility. Teachers praise novelty over creativity. When a pupil impresses us with an idea that we didn't expect we categorise them as creative. When they demonstrate artistry that is beyond the teachers ability we categorise them as creative.

Should Primary Headteachers lead by Pedagogical Example?⤴

from

I was really intrigued by the Education Secretary’s recent call for more active involvement from headteachers in the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). Although this was primarily aimed at secondary headteachers, it is my experience that a lot of primary heads could also be more active in the roll out of CfE in their schools. It’s all very well to attend meetings and seminars with Learning Teaching Scotland (LTS) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIe) then come back to school and ask for various initiatives to be tried out and put in place. Because many heads and deputes (certainly in primary schools) do not teach, I feel they don’t always grasp the impracticalities and additional work generated by some ideas they hear in the lecture hall. Of course, secondary headteachers will be restricted to what they can teach depending on what subject they taught before entering management. As a primary school teacher and for the purpose of this discussion, I will be commenting mainly on some of the research I managed to find on teaching heads in the primary school.

Matthews (2009) discusses the characteristics of outstanding headteachers as school leaders and suggests that one of the important personal skills headteachers should possess is “modelling, leading by example, especially in teaching.” Webb (2005) carried out case studies in six English primary schools examining primary headteacher leadership. She focused on three different theoretical leadership models: educative leadership, instructional leadership and pedagogical leadership. The context of this research was against the backdrop of the introduction of the Education Reform Act (ERA)in England in 1988, but I feel that most of this research is relevant to how headteachers in Scotland could approach leading learning and teaching in the primary school. Indeed, there is research to show that there are many headteachers in Scotland who have to take a lead and teach in their schools and I have taught at a school where this happened. I will draw upon some of the research by Valerie Wilson to highlight the Scottish context of teaching headteachers.

Before 1988 and the passing of the ERA in England, many primary headteachers practised educative leadership. In essence they were involved directly in the teaching culture of the school, a working relationship with both pupils and teachers and a social work role with regards to the welfare of individual pupils to ensure a home life conducive to learning (Webb 2005). I would argue that many primary headteachers in Scotland still see this as part of their role or think that they continue to work this way.Instructional leadership can be considered to be a model of leadership influenced by central and local governments and other policy makers designed to bring about school improvement by establishing effective management structures and systems (Webb 2005). In other words, headteachers should not be concerned with educative leadership but focus more on administration and implementing centrally dictated policies and initiatives. Again, I feel that this is a model of leadership I have come across in my teaching career in Scotland. Take for example the pressures caused by HMIe inspections; meeting attainment levels, record keeping, self-evaluations etc all point to headteachers having to implement effective administrative procedures at the expense of being in the classroom to experience themselves the pressures and the enjoyment of being a classroom teacher.

Webb (2005:87) suggests pedagogical leadership as a third possible leadership model to overcome the prescription of instructional leadership. She does not advocate the combining of educative and instructional leadership but alternatively:

“…harnessing some of the routines and techniques of instructional leadership for their own purposes and interpreting these tasks in accord with the values and beliefs underpinning their pedagogical leadership.”

To me this means that headteachers should lead by example in the classroom as well as in the office. Certainly in larger schools, such as in my own context, the headteacher is supported by a depute and three principal teachers. In the age of distributed leadership, management tasks are further delegated to teachers and working groups. Can headteachers not organise their time more efficiently to allow them to spend some time in class leading learning and teaching?

Valerie Wilson (2008 & 2009) has focused her research on teaching heads in Scotland’s smaller primary schools. I began my career in a small semi-rural primary with 30 pupils located in the Central Belt. The staff consisted of the headteacher, two class teachers (with myself as probationer), two support for learning assistants and a part time administrative assistant. For a school of that size it was well staffed. As a probationer, I had 0.7FTE (full time equivalent) teaching commitment with the headteacher having to cover the remaining 0.3FTE contact time. Although the school roll was only 30, the amount of administrative tasks and paperwork demanded by local and central government, as well as the day to day running of the school (dealing with parents, cooperating on multi agency matters, staff issues), is just as demanding as it is in larger schools but with no management structure to fall back on. It is all on the shoulders of the headteacher. Wilson (2008:482-483) states that small school headteachers:

“… often have to act as their own janitors by turning on the heating, mending toilets, clearing leaves from the school playground, and opening the school – activities that would be eschewed by headteachers in urban settings.”

This was certainly true in my experience and time in the small school. On top of all these tasks, the headteacher also taught in class and did her own planning for that time. She had to be organised and manage her time effectively to allow her to do all these things. I argue that it must be possible in the larger primary school for headteachers to set a pedagogical example to their teaching staff especially in this time of flux and transition to CfE. However, I know that many headteachers are seconded for example, to local authority working groups or senior posts. Many act as associate assessors for HMIe as well as acting as tutors for student teachers for Initial Teacher Education institutes. These are all important roles and important for the headteacher’s continual professional development needs. Surely their first priority should be to the strategic development of their own school in term of raising attainment, developing staff skills and abilities as well as leading learning and teaching from the frontline of the classroom.

References

Matthews, Peter (2009) How do school leaders successfully lead learning? Nottingham, National College for School Leadership

Webb , Rosemary (2005) ‘Leading Teaching and Learning in the Primary School: From ‘Educative Leadership’ to ‘Pedagogical Leadership’’, Educational Management, Administration and Leadership 33, 69-91

Wilson, Valerie (2008) ‘The role of the teaching headteacher: A question of support?’, Teaching and Teacher Education 25, 482-489

Wilson, Valerie (2009) ‘Leading Small Scottish Primary Schools: Still a Unique Style?’, Educational Management, Administration and Leadership 37(6), 806-823