Saturday, 20 October 2012

Quality not Quantity #Teachmeet Haywards Heath

On Wednesday evening this week I went to my very first #teachmeet - #teachmeet Haywards Heath. Now, I had been well aware of the teachmeets that had been set up around the country for teachers to share their ideas/resources/thoughts etc, but until now hadn't had one in my area or been able to attend any.

Luckily, I was free Wednesday evening and so signed up to the Haywards Heath #teachmeet, which is less than 30 mins from where I live.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the evening, other than the evening would be more than worth while based on tweets I had seen from other teachers who had attended other #teachmeets. When I arrived I was greeted by Pauline Gaston (@PaulineMGaston) who had arranged the event. I was told at this point that there weren't as many people as was expected but none the less all the original presentations where still taking place.

We all met briefly before the presentations took place and I soon found I was in good company with teachers from across the county, both Primary and Secondary and even lecturers from Sussex Uni.

The first presentation was by Kevin Cunningham (@bt2bn) on 'Storytelling in Maths'. This, of all the presentations was the one that was, on first glance of the evening's schedule, the most relevant to me. Kevin's presentation was fantastic and involved thinking of your Mathematics lessons as a story whereby you 'hook' the learners in, set up the challenges and obstacles to overcome and then resolve them. Kevin spoke highly of, and gave me a needed reminder of, Dan Meyer's blog and the ideas available on here http://blog.mrmeyer.com. Kevin showed us an example of a video he had used to 'hook' his students into the volume of cylinders. He used this video to get students to think of all possible questions you could ask based on the short clip. There was then the main part of the lesson where the students worked through solving the problems/questions they had posed in the starter and then a final video was shown to review the learning. The videos can be seen here.

Next up was Darren Harte, a teacher in a Primary BESD school. This presentation was fantastic in terms of the 'eye opener' it provided in terms of what goes on in a BESD school. The presentation was titled 'They do what?'. The main thing I took away from this is that practical learning/engagement is key for these learners and that they adopt a thematic approach to their curriculum. Another interesting idea was to grade classes on their behaviour each lesson. Starting each lesson with a '5', the highest level and then seeing where the class ends up at the end of the lesson with '0' being the lowest score for their behaviour. This emphasises the need to start each lesson 'fresh'. The students in that class would then be rewarded with a 'class of the week' trophy based on their scores, they would be given 'golden time' for 20 mins at the end of the day, given small (cheap) rewards at the end of lessons etc.

After Darren, Brian Dickinson, creator of www.takethemout.co.uk (@takethemoutcouk) presented about the website. The website is a site where teachers can share reviews of places/events they have been to on school trips. This was seen as a great idea for teachers as there is now a place you can go to search for particular venues for particular subjects/key stages/ages etc and all of these will be reviewed by other teachers who have previously attended the places/visits/events.

Pauline then gave her presentation on 'Verbal and Non-Verbal Language Use for Successful Behaviour Management'. This was a great reminder of the key things we need to do as teachers to manage behaviour including pausing, giving time limits for tasks, giving take up time etc etc. The few things I took away from this was the '1 min detention', odd time limits for tasks - i.e. 7 mins, 8mins, 10mins 23 secs and standing to the side of students when talking to them about their behaviour.

Finally, Andy Chadler-Grevatt gave an inspiring presentation about the 'Summative and formative Classroom Culture' and had to be seen to understand the content of the presentation. The presentation was based on research Andy had conducted as part of his doctorate. There were loads of things to think about here and especially for me as a teacher in terms of whether my classroom culture is one of formative, summative or a mix of the two assessments. I found that depending on the set I teach that this changed.

Right at the end of the #teachmeet I was invited to attend an upcoming session at Sussex Uni by Karen Gladwin and this is something that I am already very excited by (more on this to come).

So, as the post title suggests this was a fairly intimate #teachmeet, which, if anything, allowed us to discuss in greater detail the topics presented. We weren't restricted by time and presenters were able to speak in greater depth about their chosen topics. Not having a form of comparison it is difficult to say whether this is better than say a #teachmeet where you have 100+ teachers but I took A LOT away from the evening and am grateful to those that gave up their time to share their ideas. Thank you to all involved!

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