Tag Archives: professionallearning


from @ Fearghal Kelly

I’m toying with the idea of resurrecting the PedagooLocal idea. We’ve tried it once before. We used to have a whole section of the forums on Pedagoo.org dedicated to the idea with the hope that we’d get lots of regional groups of Pedagoo’ers coming together to share and organise local events. There were a few gallant attempts at making this happen in a few locations, with even a few events taking place as well, but it’s kinda died away.

So, why bring it back? Well, following the success of #PedagooPrimary the other week there has been a few mentions of folk wanting to organise their own Pedagoo style TeachMeet in their local area and link it to Pedagoo in some way, but without wanting to go for the pressure of making it a bigger event. From the beginning we’ve tried really hard to welcome and encourage folk to organise events which use the Pedagoo name, but without going to the full free-for-all of the TeachMeet name. Some time ago we reached the conclusion that the best way to achieve this was to organise a Pedagoo event you needed to join the Curator team and broadly agree to the guidance described on this page when organising your event.

Pedagoo is first and foremost an online community of teachers, sharing their practice year-round via the blog and twitter. The idea of the events is to have the occasional physical coming together of members of the community to share practice more deeply in person, to encourage more sharing online and encourage new members into the community. For this reason, if someone asks to become a curator in order to run an event, I always ask them to first become involved in the online community and then ask again.

I’m happy that the approach we’ve reached has helped ensure that our events are run by folk who ‘get it’, which is important when running such a loose collective of teachers who haven’t always even met each other in person! The drawback however is that it limits the number of events we’re able to run, which in turn therefore limits our ability to achieve our objectives of encouraging more folk to share their practice online.

So, it is for this reason I’m thinking of resurrecting the PedagooLocal idea. I think this time we should perhaps not aim to to ensure there are Local groups of Pedagoo’ers all over the country – which was a bit of an ask. Instead, I’m thinking if someone’s wanting to organise a relatively small, local, Pedagoo-style event and are wanting to link it to Pedagoo, they could use the name and branding associated with ‘PedagooLocal’. As the Pedagoo name is now relatively well known, this might help them attract attendees and sponsors, and it would help us all to grow the community.

What criteria would someone need to meet to organise a PedagooLocal event? I’d be interested in your opinion, but for me I think the event would need to:

  • be free to the teachers attending.
  • take a longer format approach to sharing (i.e. primarily 30/40 minute Learning Conversations/Workshops as opposed to all 7/2 minute presentations – we’ve got nothing against TeachMeets, we’re just trying to add a bit of diversity to the mix).
  • be open to teachers from anywhere, even if primarily aimed at one particular area/local authority.

I think these would be the questions I’d be asking if someone were to approach us to use the name for their event.

What do you think?


from @ Fearghal Kelly

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Thank you to everyone who contributed to the #ResearchMeet idea which I floated the other week, both online and in person at the City Cafe on Wednesday. One thing’s for certain, there’s an appetite for it and we should therefore definitely make sure it happens.

On Wednesday we thrashed a few things out and reached a few decisions. There was agreement that #EnquiryMeet was a better name than #ResearchMeet, and so we’ve changed it to that. We all agreed that it’s practitioner enquiry that we’re particularly interested in developing, supporting and sharing in Scotland and we should change the name accordingly. This is also more in line with the ethos of Pedagoo and the GTCS Standards. As a result, there was also agreement that a school would be a more fitting venue than a University, and we have a great one already offering to host the event, so more on that to come. We also felt that June was too ambitious to do this well, and in order to avoid clashing with the many events in August/September and the October holidays, we’re going to go for early November.

One of the other key decisions we reached was how to have some sort of criteria for sharing whilst also keeping it open and inclusive. We’ve decided the best way to do this is through the academic posters (wondering if we should rename these ‘Enquiry Posters’?). Anyone who wanted to present would need to submit a poster (and others could choose to only submit a poster and not present). All these posters would be uploaded to the web and printed A1. On the day, they would be displayed and attendees would interact with them, perhaps by adding post-it notes with questions? Anyone who submitted a poster would be able to then take it back with them to their schools – we have a potential partner who might be able to cover the cost of all this printing.

This academic/enquiry poster would need to include…

- Enquiry question
– A rationale for their enquiry
– The intervention they carried out
– The outcomes of the intervention and how they know
– Implications for practice/next steps
– References
– Contact details

The beauty of this is that the criteria for the poster becomes the criteria for presenting at the event.

So, what would the event be for? I think it’s important to stress that the purpose of this event would be to support practitioners to develop their use of enquiry. For some, this would involve sharing and discussing enquiries which they have already carried out, for others who are perhaps earlier in their enquiry journey, they might wish to attend to hear what others have been doing to develop their own understanding and ideas. And although the focus of the day would primarily be on practitioners sharing their classroom-based enquiry and research, it would also be good to have sessions more explicitly on the what, how and why of practitioner enquiry. It might also be good to have sessions such as this for those who are further ahead in their use of enquiry, perhaps on how to write for journals or apply for funding.

So, what are the next steps? Well, the plan is to confirm the venue and funding and then open up the event for submission of posters and presentations before the summer holidays. We’ll keep this open until the start of September and then get the event opened up to all then. We’re planning on running this event under the Pedagoo banner but working in partnership with others.

What do you think? Sounding good? If so…time to get your thinking cap on – what could you share?


I’ve had a wee go at a possible template for the poster. You can click on the image below to download the powerpoint file.
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What literature has had the biggest impact on your practice? #gtcsPL⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 18.10.52

As a member of the GTCS Research Engagement Group, I’m facilitating this week’s slow twitter chat with the hashtag #gtcspl.

Slow twitter chat? What’s that? Well, discussing educational literature is complex, and rightly so, so rather than trying to cram our chats into an hour, we’re hoping to encourage folk to join in over the course of a week. This is the third such chat and taking the week-long approach has really worked for allowing the conversation to develop, as well as giving lots of busy teachers to join in over the course of the week.

So for my week I’ve chosen to ask the question…

What literature has had the biggest impact on your practice?

I’m hoping this will kick off with lots of sharing of great articles and books (some of which will hopefully be available through EBSCO) but I’m hoping to encourage folk to go further and also share what impact it had, why and how they know. We’ll see how we get on.

So, get your thinking caps on folks and join in all week!

Own Learning⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

I love teaching. I really do. However, like many other teachers I yearn for other experiences and opportunities as well. I’ve been lucky so far in my career to have had a few interesting out-of-classroom experiences, but to be completely honest with you I’m not sure where the next one is going to come from. Over the past few years there have been a number of potential opportunities but for one reason or another none of them have actually come off or been quite right.

So, in the spirit of New Year resolutions, my plan for 2015 is to see if I can create my own opportunities. Can I generate work outside of my classroom, not to make enormous profits, but to allow me to be able to reduce my teaching commitment and yet still support my family? It’s an interesting question and I suppose I have to ask myself what do I have to offer? I’ve come up with a number of things…

  • I feel that I have a deep understanding of the potential for practitioner enquiry in teacher professional learning and am able to facilitate others in the process. I’ve already run collaborative enquiries and supported individuals through the enquiry process in my own school and now I’m beginning to support teachers from outwith my school through enquiries, which I could build upon further with others. I could therefore lead enquiries in other schools, support schools to develop their own enquiry programmes and even branch this out to wider support for schools’ professional learning programmes.
  • I have a real passion for the development of pedagogy, particularly in the areas of involving young people in the learning process and the meaningful integration of technology into learning. I could support school leaders and their staff to develop aspects of pedagogy and the use of technology in a number of ways ranging from consulting, to speaking or even coming in and working directly with groups of staff.
  • I could also do a huge variety of other pieces of work such as organising educational events or consulting on policy or projects for organisations working in the education sector.

In order to dip my toe in the water and see if anyone is willing to actually pay me for any of these services I’m taking the step of setting myself up as a sole trader. You can find out more on my new website: ownlearning.co.uk

To begin with, any work would be in addition to my full time teaching role, however if it works I’d be hoping to be able to adjust this in the future.

So, does any of this appeal to you or your school’s leadership team? If so, please get in touch. I’ve come up with some rates but obviously these will be negotiable while I’m setting up in return for feedback and references.

Happy New Year!

The Pedagoo Programme⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

I’ve just returned from a fantastic week at Columba 1400 with a group from my school. If you’re not familiar with Columba, they run a week long leadership programme at their beautiful centre on the Isle of Skye. You can find out more about what they do on their website.

We were there as a group of fourteen twelve to fourteen year olds and two teachers with an aim to come back and develop our school’s culture of respect and quality relationships. It really was an excellent week and I learned so much about my fellow participants and myself. I’m really looking forward to seeing where we take our experience when we return to school next week.

I could write much much more about my Columba experience, but I’ve done most of that in another format – the written journal you keep while you’re on the programme. The purpose of this post is more to consider an idea which came up during the week which I just can’t shake.

During one of the sessions I said something which has become a bit of stock phrase I come out with now and again. This is that if I were to win the lottery, I would love to create a charitable organisation called The Pedagoo Foundation. I raised this because I’ve always imagined that this Pedagoo Foundation could build a facility not dissimilar to Columba’s which would provide a space where we as teachers could run different sorts of professional learning and leadership programmes for our fellow teachers. It’s funny how much time we spend imagining how our lives would be if only we’d win the lottery. My wife has actually persuaded me to stop playing the lottery recently as she believes that it stops you creating your own dreams…this related closely to the response I received from a member of the Columba team when I shared this idea…

“what’s stopping you?”

I didn’t say anything at the time, but that question niggled me the rest of the week. Could we try this? We couldn’t do it the way I’d do it in my lottery dreams, but maybe we could do it another way? Perhaps we could try to get use of Columba’s facilities at a discounted rate and run a pilot version of the Pedagoo Programme at their centre…perhaps even with their support? Or perhaps we could develop the programme in a way that it could be run in a variety of different locations? Outdoor centres such as Firbush Field Centre leap to mind as a possibility?

One of the difficulties would be trying to find a funder to support this. Funders are willing to support programmes for young people, but my feeling is that teachers would be harder to find funding for. However, I would argue that the impact teachers can have on a school would be much longer lasting. I’m not arguing against programmes for young people, these are obviously crucial, but I’d argue that there is a case to be made for funding programmes for teachers also due to the potential sustainable effects for a large number of young people back in their schools over decades. At the very least, it’s worth trying.

What would a Pedagoo Programme do? I think we could be inspired by the sorts of values based approaches Columba have developed but with a focus on our own values. These could include…

  • Learning
  • Positivity
  • Growth
  • Sharing
  • Community
  • Creativity

That’s just an initial list I tried to come up with last week…obviously if we were to go for such a thing we’d need a team to get together to develop and deliver the pilot week-long progamme.

When approaching potential funders we could…

  • Ask for funding for the facilities, accommodation, catering, transport, admin and cover.
  • Ask for everything except cover and run it during holidays. Would teachers give up their holidays if everything else was free?
  • Ask for just the facilities & accommodation. Would teachers be willing to contribute themselves, or ask their schools to?

Obviously this is just the very beginnings of an idea…however I really think there’s something in it. Using the web and our one-day events to grow our community has been amazing so far, however I really think we could take what we have grown and push it further to help ourselves and others to be the best we can be for the benefit of our young people. Before proceeding any further however, I would very much welcome your thoughts.


from @ Fearghal Kelly

At our in-service day today, teachers had opportunities to attend workshop sessions on four of the stages from our school’s learning cycle. I was on demonstrate. I used the prezi above to talk through why I think it’s an important part of the learning process and then got them to come up with the features of a good demonstrate stage and what approaches you can use. You can see their fab ideas at the end of the prezi.

I really do think that providing challenging opportunities for learners to show you, themselves and each other how much and how well they’ve learnt is a crucial element in the formative assessment process and yet this is only a relatively recent realisation for me. I think in the past I too often gave students something which I knew they would be able to do in order to allow us to proceed with the content, rather than stretching them to see if they’d really got it and what they still needed to learn. I suppose this is why I’ve become slightly obsessed with the demonstrate stage and therefore really enjoyed the opportunity to share this obsession this morning! Huge thank you to my fab PL colleagues for tolerating my obsession and contributing so much to the sessions.

The year ahead…⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

I was recently asked what my priorities are for this academic year, and I realised I hadn’t given it that much thought. It’s good to know what it is you want to achieve if you want to have any sort of chance of actually achieving it, hence this post.

So, this year I want to…

  1. Become a better teacher. This seems like an obvious one, but in the past I think I’ve sometimes been so busy with all the other things I get involved with that I’ve lost sight of this the most fundamental aspect of my job. In particular, this year I really want to try and further develop my ability to involve learners in their learning. I’ve already started this with my new S1 class by kicking off the year by planning our first topic together which I hope to evaluate more fully than I have done in the past.
  2. Develop a great new Higher Biology course. This is probably the reason that I hadn’t considered my priorities for the year already. The development of the new NQs has a tendency to be all consuming, even more so than I was expecting to be honest. I think the CfE Higher Biology course is a significant improvement on the old Higher and so I’m happy to be delivering it but, finding the time to make it fab is an ever present challenge.
  3. Become a better mentor. Our department is lucky to have two NQTs this year and I’m a mentor to one of them. This is the first time I’ve mentored an NQT surprisingly and I’m looking forward to learning how to do it well as the year progresses.
  4. Develop and embed our school’s fledgling approaches to supporting professional learning. Last year we piloted our PLPL programme and developed our Learning Coach model both of which need more thought and energy this session.
  5. Continue to manage, grow and develop the Pedagoo phenomenon. I’m looking forward to (and petrified by) our coming event at my school this September and hopefully a PedagooPrimary event later in the year.
  6. Give as much energy as I can to the external groups I’m a member of. These include the Edinburgh Uni Teacher Education Partnership, Education Scotland’s National Digital Learning Forum and the GTCS Research Engagement Group. Once upon a time being a member of these sorts of groups meant going along to a meeting, saying what you think and leaving the actual work to someone else. Increasingly these groups now involve a higher level of commitment than this, which is great in terms of the engagement you get as a result, but also places greater challenges on your time obviously.
  7. See if I can support colleagues in other schools. Although all of the above, on top of also being a dad and husband, doesn’t leave a lot of ‘spare’ time, I’m keen this year to see if I can find the time to explore whether or not I can be of assistance to other schools. I’m already talking to a couple of folk which is perhaps enough, but if you think I could be of use to your school maybe drop me a line? I’m thinking I could possibly be of use in the areas of developing classroom practice, leading professional learning and using technology.

Yikes. That’s quite a list. Chances are I won’t manage all of this but it’s good to set yourself high standards…


from @ Fearghal Kelly

@kennypieper and I seem to have created a little Pedagoo annual tradition. We meet up in Edinburgh before term starts to chat about Pedagoo, and many other things, in the midst of the fringe without actually taking part in the fringe. This year was our second year of this and was just as enjoyable as last year. One of the biggest differences however between this year and last though was our thoughts on where the Pedagoo community is going. Whereas last year we had a number of concerns, hopes, plans and ideas…this year I think we were both a lot more comfortable with how things are going just now. A couple of years ago we were constantly plotting and planning new Pedagoo things, but now we’ve reached a point where we’re a lot clearer about what we’re about and have managed to arrange things so that the community is (just about) manageable on top of our full time teaching jobs!

The one thing we’d both still like to see change about the community however is an increase in participation from our primary colleagues. Pedagoo is all about sharing classroom practice, no matter what the sector, but there is a bit of a bias towards Secondary. We do have loads of fantastic primary folk contributing, but the community does seem to have many more secondary teachers sharing. Kenny suggested we run a Primary event to try to help rectify this. In the past I’ve been very reticent about any such themed events. Our events, like our website and #PedagooFriday, have always been open to all with the core focus being classroom practice, and I would like things to continue this way. I believe we’ve got a lot to learn from colleagues from other sectors, and the more we know about each other’s roles the more we’ll be able to understand and support our learners’ education journey as a whole.

However, Pedagoo has been going for over three years now and we’ve still to attract primary teachers in the numbers we’d like…perhaps it’s time to try something different. So, I’m up for the idea. We could have a Pedagoo event which aims explicitly to attract lots of primary teachers along to share and join in. I can’t think of a better way of doing that than calling it #PedagooPrimary. To be clear though,  I don’t see this as being the first of a series of events. I certainly don’t envisage there being a #PedagooSecondary or anything else of the ilk. I would like to see the rest of our future events having the open and collaborative approach we’ve taken up till now, but hopefully with more primary folk joining in having been persuaded by their participation in the #PedagooPrimary event.

Given that I’m a secondary teacher, I’m not actually organising this proposed event…there’s already a group of primary teachers taking ownership of the idea (and you can join in too if you want by checking out the #PedagooPrimary hashtag). So, this’ll be all I have to say on the idea. I just wanted to be clear in why I’m supportive of this idea and yet still cautious about any further suggestions of themed events. Pedagoo events already have a focus: classroom practice. #PedagooPrimary should help us to broaden the conversation at our future Pedagoo events and online.

Developing the analogy #CfE2.0⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

In my last post, I suggested that the future of CfE lay in the profession taking hold of it and leading the direction of travel. I titled the post CfE2.0 but never really explained why I did so. I think in my geekiness I had assumed everyone would get the analogy, but apparently that’s not the case…thanks @aileendunbar!


I’ve tried to make this clearer with the image above. The analogy I’m using here is the web. In it’s early days, a very small number of people contributed to the web and most people were consumers of this content. We might’ve read the BBC website but most of us would never have actually put anything onto the internet ourselves. Many folks now refer to this as Web 1.0 to distinguish it from our current use of the web. In Web 2.0 most users are producers as well as consumers. Through blogs, twitter, facebook, youtube, flickr and many many other such tools, most people who are online are contributing content to the web as well as reading and watching other people’s content. Web 1.0 is sometimes referred to as the “read” web, whereas web 2.0 is the “read/write” web.

So, what has all this got to do with Curriculum for Excellence? Well we could liken CfE, and all previous curricula, up to now to the early iteration of the internet. A small number of people produce it for a large number of people to “consume” – i.e. deliver to their classes. So, I’m suggesting that the future of CfE lies in becoming a read/write curriculum, or CfE2.0. We should be aiming for teachers, and students, to become collaborators in the development of the curriculum.

But, what would be our tools to achieve this? What would be the equivalent of our twitter? There may be a number of answers to this, but practitioner enquiry seems to be a key one to me. If teachers across the country were engaging in an enquiry approach to developing the curriculum with their classes, based on literature and feeding out into the system, we could begin to make this shift. But what about consistency I hear you ask? Obviously there needs to be some level of consistency and we’ll need to decide where to draw this line. There is a delicate balance to be struck between having a consistent curriculum and one which overly restricts teachers and learners, thus stifling creativity and personalisation. I personally think we possibly need to trim back the experiences and outcomes to allow more freedom…but not bin them altogether. Imagine rather than continuing to moan about this, I was encouraged to research into this with my classes in collaboration with teachers in other schools?

In order for this to happen, there needs to be a few changes in mindset across the system:

  • Considered and thoughtful variation and risk-taking needs to be encouraged in schools.
  • Teachers need to be supported to become enquiring, critical and research-informed professionals through high quality, challenging and masters-level learning opportinities.
  • Teachers need access to academic literature.
  • Processes need to but into place to facilitate the sharing of school-based research with support from academia.
  • Policy-makers need to actively encourage and engage with all of the above with open ears and minds.

I’m aware that in these posts I’m perhaps sounding a little bit idealistic and not plugged into reality…perhaps I am. But I would suggest that many of the above are actually happening already through the implementation of the Donaldson report, the new standards and professional update. All that’s really missing I think is the explicit linking of these professional learning initiatives to a vision for how the curriculum will be developed in the future – however, the principles of the CLTA forums overlap with this view somewhat.

So, in actual fact we could be closer than we might think to this vision of a read/write curriculum…or CfE2.0.


from @ Fearghal Kelly

Curriculum for Excellence will be ten years old this coming November. This is if we count its date of birth as the publication of the report of the Curriculum Review Group in November 2004 which was titled ‘A Curriculum for Excellence‘ – which is as good a time as any to measure its age by I think. There are many interesting issues which arise from this policy process reaching double figures…firstly, for some in Secondaries, CfE is only two months old – i.e. it only really started in May of this year when students sat the new exams for the first time! For others, a ten year old policy would imply that we must surely have got to grips with it by now and it must surely be fully implemented – how though do you ever fully implement excellence? For many however, the growing suspicion might be that a ten year old policy is surely in its dying days. Don’t we do big bang reform every 10-15 years or so?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m pleased to learn that there is an effort being made by SG/ES to avoid further big bang reforms through the new CLTA forums and I really hope these are successful in this endeavour. However, are the winds of change already amongst us? As David Cameron mentioned at #PedagooGlasgow, the focus seems to be shifting back to attainment – which is evident from the theme of this year’s SLF. Also, has anyone else noticed that the term ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ seems to be being slowly played down on the Education Scotland website?

Change, I suppose, is inevitable and desirable. This can be hard for many teachers to hear after having lived through the last ten years, but it’s the reality of modern life. The real question therefore should probably be about what sort of change we want and for what purpose? The assumption I was alluding to above is that Government at some point in the coming years replaces CfE with something else. My personal fear in this scenario is that it takes the form of a pendulum swing back towards a focus purely on attainment, testing and rote learning. But perhaps this isn’t the way the change needs to happen?

I’ve long felt that CfE was implemented the wrong way round. To put autonomy onto teachers who have not experienced autonomy for years, does not necessarily feel like a good thing! I’ve argued on a few occasions in the past that we should’ve started with skilling up and reprofessionalising the profession before attempting to implement a new curriculum. I always felt that trying to achieve transformational change through giving out folders and subjecting teachers to powerpoints was unlikely to be successful. But we are where we are, so where do we go from here? Well, we now have in place a relatively future-proof set of policies at their core which we’re all relatively familiar with on some level. At the same time, we’re now in the process of implementing some visionary new professional standards from the GTCS which, I think, up the game in terms of what this job of ours involves – particularly in relation to engaging with, and contributing to, research. As a result, we’re beginning to see an increasing engagement with enquiry and research across the profession. This is more like the form of professional learning which is likely to bring about real change in classrooms I think.

Perhaps, therefore, the time is right for us as a profession to shape the direction of the curriculum in the future. As an engaged and researching profession, we can have the confidence to argue the case for change and make sure the curriculum continues to evolve in the way that we think it should and make it what it should be for our young people. I once wrote a fictional history post which suggested that this is the way it should’ve been the first time, which was always a bit far fetched…but perhaps it’s less so this time round?

So rather than fearing possible further changes to the curriculum in the future, let’s engage in enquiry, debate and policy forums and make sure that change does indeed happen for the benefit of our future learners. Perhaps that’s what CfE2.0 could and should be?


I’ve expanded on this post here.