Nuggets (and not the KFC kind) …

The first “International Big Day Out” has come to a close, and if you followed the sessions on Twitter via #IBDO, you would have noticed a steady stream of quotable quotes being generated by the people holding the reins today. The gathering of “associates” from Independent Thinking certainly, in my experience, lived up to their collective motto: “To do things no-one does or to do things everyone does but in a way no-one does.”

The sessions were really “tasters” of an hour each, giving us an idea of the particular passion that each leader has followed and developed, but not really affording us the time to engage with their thoughts on a profound level. None of the sessions I attended had the luxury of a question and answer opportunity, which was understandable considering the time provided, but I was left wishing there was more time (which I guess was partly the objective of the day). Despite this, I came away with a number of “nuggets” that I would like to share.

Hywel Roberts (@HYWEL_ROBERTS) reminded me of the power of leading students into new and imagined contexts. This was a process that was part and parcel of life when I was a Drama teacher, but Hywel awakened my awareness to its potential in all subject areas, and this is an idea that I will take forward and use. In particular, the session reinforced the benefit of using created contexts to provide a space in which students feel safe to engage with new concepts. Listening to him speak about working in schools with students with Emotional & Behavioural Difficulties (EBD) took me back to my work as a Learning Support Assistant in Westminster, London, supervising adolescent boys who had been excluded from school because of violent incidents. I know how tough that work can be, and that deepened my respect for him and his work.

Roy Leighton (@Roy_Leighton) presented his keynote speech with impressive clarity and presence. I am fascinated by the work that people do around the process of change, and I appreciated his carefully thought-out system, harmoniously interwoven with an analysis of Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be…” speech. Roy said that learning is knowledge being altered or even torn apart, which was a way of looking at it that I hadn’t considered before. It makes sense and I can see myself using this logic when talking to students. I repeat to my students that although I will do everything I can to understand their needs, they must tell me when I am going over old ground for them (as individuals), as this means that their current knowledge is not being challenged or disrupted, and they are therefore not learning. As I write, though, I wonder about the process of reinforcement / consolidation and how that fits in, that’s something to ponder another time. 

Simon Pridham‘s (@Simonpridham123) keynote speech touched home on a number of points that I am currently thinking about, connected to digital learning. His case study provides rich examples of what can be done when there is a strong vision driving technology integration. I appreciated the systematic approach he described, especially connected to empowering students to being part of the tech integration discussion. He underlined the importance of co-constructing a code of conduct with the students, and then holding them accountable for their behaviour just as we would for any aspect of school life. Simon also reinforced how powerful mobile phones can be, which supported my wish to see students using their phones in my classroom. I would love to be using QR codes, for example, and this is an avenue I will explore further. Simon’s practical approach almost made the process look simple, but I am more than aware of the challenges that lie ahead, and look forward to discussions with colleagues over the coming months.

It was a privilege to be challenged to reflect today, and I enjoyed the opportunity to engage with the people of ITL (@ITLWorldwide). They came to us, worked hard, and left us with ideas to chew over, although as Roy Leighton would point out, knowing without doing is not knowing. Time to get on with the doing!

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