My Mini Adventure: I went to Clevedon and all I got was this laminated map and some rock…

This week has been a very long one. I was a little tired after my first real NQT observation on Wednesday. However, this lull couldn’t last long as tradition states that after Wednesday is Thursday; and Thursday brought an inspirational evening at a wonderful Teach Meet hosted by Clevedon School. I still can’t believe I was encouraged to go. All speakers and much of the audience are heroes and dynamos of education in my newly qualified eyes. I’m hugely unqualified compared to the majority of guests that night and to be able to listen to, and then talk to, many of the people who wrote the books piled high beside me right now was an honour and a privilege. I’m hoping I didn’t squeal too much (at my laminated map) and that they will allow me back.

This is NOT the shiny map I mean…that one is below!

For those of you that are wondering: no, really, truly, it is not in Bristol. It’s basically in Wales.

Many people have written up their thoughts and praise for TMClevedon and the subsequent Big Day Out and I wouldn’t hope to match their expert analysis and reflections but I will say how much it has made a difference to my end of term.

I avoided teaching for quite a while because everyone told me that’s what I should do. I don’t like being told what to do. I adored spending a year as an LSA working with pupils with a range of physical and learning difficulties. I had no idea what I was doing but I loved it and I was allowed to be myself. I learnt the value of understanding students as individuals and the value of working with people who have the same goal. Whilst everything else seemed to go upside down and inside out that year the consistent drive, laughter and kindness from my students kept me going.

So going into my GTP was tough. I moved schools and suddenly things were difficult. I wasn’t able to be myself for a very long time. I worked just as hard and tried hard to remember why I did it but the realities and the climate had changed. I found myself moaning more than ever before. I certainly didn’t laugh every day and whenever I tried to be me I felt like people thought I was insane. That’s why I couldn’t stop smiling on Thursday. I was in a room full of people who were happy for everyone to know that their focus started and ended with working hard with and for their students. The thoughts and ideas shared were shared for the right reasons. Despite some eye catching outfits (@ICTEvangelist) it was clear there were no egos in the room. Just ideas and innovation ready to be explored.

There are plenty of posts about some of the great things we were lucky to see that night. Personally I loved:

Project Based Learning: PBL examples from @AmyWells2011 and @LearningSpy – A number of great ideas about creating worthwhile projects for students. Projects where they will create or be supplied with an audience for their work. In a really small way I have started doing this with both my year 7 and year 10. Year 10 have created work to go up in a gallery where they have to present to others their work. Amy and Leigh’s ideas about getting parents in to see the end project (A Museum for a Morning) was wonderful. It has really inspired me to plan a project for next year based on Poetry.

Literacy Cubed: A typically brilliant seminar from @learningspy about literacy which was so simple yet effective. What more could you want? David Didau (happily I now know how to pronounce his surname correctly) presented his 3 part strategy for improving literacy. The logic behind his idea is something that has been missing from many other Literacy presentations I have attended. As we are told, and believe, how important literacy is we make the mistake of thinking it may be complicated. Yet it is not and David offered helpful advice to be used across a range of subjects. Even though I spent a year teaching literacy I often forget the basics. It was a pleasure to be reminded of them in such an enthusiastic yet understandable way.

Expert Grandparents: Gavin Smart has a Grandad. Many people know this. I also learnt and took on board instantly Gavin’s point about using experts in the classroom. Gavin’s video is brilliant and shows just how easy it is to get an expert in your classroom. I’m booking my friends that work in Television, Publishing, Law, Designing and Writing as we speak. I’m not sure I can use my last surviving Grandparent for this, but the idea has stuck with me and will remain stuck until I’ve used the knowledge from every expert I can find with a link to anything I am teaching.

Public Critique: Unfortunately I didn’t go to this session/seminar but I did watch @Totallywired77 on TMClevedon’s Youtube channel yesterday. Tait Coles talks (and walks) energetically whilst explaining Ron Berger’s theory of Public Critique. It is something I will be introducing both next week and after half term with my classes. A clear and relevant way to approach feedback which occurs between students and other students. I’m really looking forward to seeing the improvement in quality of feedback and thus the effect it has on pupils editing, redrafting and creating new work.

Other highlights included: Mark Anderson’s (@ICTEvangelist)’s shiny jacket; Pete Jones‘ Tweachers map (Can’t believe I got a special alliterative mention and it was laminated – highlight of year!); meeting my northern mentor and maxi-me @lisajaneashes; meeting the wonderful inspirational that is @Vicgoddard (having Essex roots I like him even more); having @thelazyteacher take my pic with said inspirational Vic; realising that @learningspy really is that ginger; meeting the kind and supportive @hgaldinshea; being in the car with @myersclaire (5 hour round journey!) and being allowed to watch the confident and articulate digital leaders from Clevedon school.

Pete Jones’ beautiful map
The gentlemanly Vic Goddard

Anything missing? There wasn’t a lot missing from TMClevedon. I merely would have liked some more time to meet some of the wonderful people there. And although a bit primary school-ish name badges wouldn’t go amiss! It would save @thelazyteacher tweeting me to tell me he’s at the back (presumably he thought we hadn’t met) after he’d just helped me make a cup of tea. Well, it’s name badges or I should get better at introducing myself.

As usual these reflections are mainly for me so I don’t forget the good bits, but also to say a huge thank you to everyone who organised it and said hello. The positive attitudes of all I met said an awful lot about the profession. The pivotal consequence of this week’s adventures has been realising that – at the end of this long half term, the reassurance and camaraderie I receive in 140 characters on a daily basis is real and ongoing. Although I’ve been told to think it before, and I have always been; I think it’s the first time I can truly say aloud and to anyone that will listen that I am unbelievably and unequivocally proud to be a teacher.

Finally, Dave Harris as quoted by @lisajaneashes is right – now we’ve had the fun it’s time to ‘Take Action’.

See Lisa’s reflections on BDO:

See TMClevedon Presentations:

One Reply to “My Mini Adventure: I went to Clevedon and all I got was this laminated map and some rock…”

  1. I should have commented before now really, but thanks again for writing this Jen. I wonder, all this time on from October to now – has anything you have reflected upon here, or just through general mullings, had any more impact? Did attending TMClevedon now that we’re 6 or 7 months on had any lasting impacts? Just thinking out loud 🙂



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