Inovative Teachers Forum 2009

A return to the classroom today after a mega event: the Partners in Learning UK Innovative Teachers Forum.

The event brought together like minded teachers and other professionals who have a love of learning. I was also impressed to see some students in one of the workshops. I was there to talk about my Pirates and Social Networking. There was a lot of interest in the project. I wish to clarify though, that the project is not about invading the social network that learners inhabit. Instead, the project uses a teachers Personal Learning Network as a model and data collection tool.

The conference also had plenty of time to network. This is what a lot of similar events lack, instead relying on an almost relentless procession of keynotes and workshops. I really enjoyed having the time to reflect upon the workshops and conversations with others. This time to ponder means that it is more likely that ideas will be integrated into our Geography curriculum.

There is a real buzz back at school today, with some members of staff asking me how they can get involved next year. I hope that my school can replicate in the future who had 4 winners at the conference. This has really made eLearning and innovation take the spotlight.

John Davitt provided the conference keynote. It’s the first time I have come across John, and I thought his style of presentation was excellent. His point that ‘stress stops learning’ is very true – how many times do we create stress in our classrooms? John made a very good point when he said that both shopping and entrainment are streets ahead of education in providing formative feedback and innovative assessment.

I was also lucky enough to meet a wide range of people. What they all have in common is that they are dedicated to improving learning. However, they are all happy to share; are not precious about their resources and don’t take themselves too seriously. This attitude lends itself well to successful collaboration. One of the barriers of greater collaboration, in my view, is that some experts are often seen as being in an elite band of educators. There was little evidence of this during the Forum, something that was very refreshing.

The final part of the day saw the 14 winning teachers receive a rather nifty trophy. I got up to the sounds of ‘American Woman’. Finally, I was stunned and very happy to be one of the four projects to be selected to attend the European Forum in March 2010. The other three projects were:

•Simon Horleston (Howe Dell Primary School) EcoVids
•Amy Lewis ( community school) Heroes
•Jan Webb (Weston Village Primary School) A classroom without walls

All of the projects on display were excellent, and I have a number of ideas and new technologies to try out over the next few months. I’m particularly looking forward to having another opportunity to network, this time with teachers from across Europe.

I really am surprised, as I still don’t consider the project to be that innovative. Having said that, many people yesterday were starting to change my mind.

And for the record, there was no talk of fancy dress at all. Apart from the crowd that promised something special.

One nagging thought did stay with me through the day: aren’t these conferences and events just preaching to the converted? How do we reach those teachers, schools and classes that chose not to engage? I think that celebrating the achievements of teachers and pupils on the national stage is one way to do this. Do you have any ideas?

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