Last week some of the team at MediaCore UK had the opportunity to attend #SLTeachMeet which took place in London. As a sponsor we were delighted to be able to observe this brilliant evening of inspiration and ideas. If you’ve not encountered a TeachMeet it’s an informal ‘unconference’ where teachers can share ideas, pose questions and network. The key is that any TeachMeet is ‘by teachers, for teachers’.
Teachers Ross Morrison McGill and Steven Lockyer are currently running a number of TeachMeets in London #SLTeachMeet is a new twist on the basic concept and brings senior leaders together. The event was completely packed and, in the space of two hours, we listened to 17 quick fire presentations. Here are some of our personal highlights.
From plantation to rainforest
Tom Sherrington made the case for rainforest thinking rather than plantation thinking when it came to school leadership. He acknowledged that as a head he was drawn to the 'plantation' where things were ordered and standardised. Plants flourished and outcomes were predictable and uniform. However, he argued that when heads adopted this approach they stifled individuality and creativity.
Instead he made the case for rainforest thinking something that he’d encountered for the first time at the school he now leads. As with a rainforest it can initially seem disorganised as staff are encouraged to adopt their own approaches whether that’s staff meetings, CPD or classroom practice. However, letting go of control allows new things to emerge.
A point made by James Heale in an earlier presentation possibly sums up the advantage of the rainforest: ‘tighten up to be good, loosen up to be outstanding’.
Share the love
We loved Stephen Lockyer’s ‘SLTDropbox’. This invites senior staff to share their three best resources in a dedicated folder on DropBox. Stephen realised that schools across the country were creating many of the same policies and documents and that sharing them could save time for everyone. Only launched three weeks ago, SLTDropBox already has 180 members and over 200 policies, plans and ideas have already been uploaded.
Follow Stephen on twitter @MrLockyer
17 years of wisdom in six minutes
Kenny Frederick, head teacher at George Green’s School, is retiring after 17 years in the job (this won her a round of applause from the audience).
Kenny shared some of the challenges she’d faced as a head including dealing with the death of students, tackling racism and how she managed to turn an exploding playground into an opportunity. At the end of the presentation she offered some advice to those in the room.
- Remind yourself of your values and principles and core purpose
- Allow others to help you - you are not on your own!
- Admit your mistakes and face up to them
- Learn to be assertive and have difficult conversations
- Don’t allow yourself to be bullied – some will try!
- Don’t be afraid to take risks
To sum up she said headship was about “how to keep calm and carry on when all hell is breaking loose”.
Follow Kenny on twitter @kennygfrederick
From clueless to ninja in less than a year
Sarah Findlater spoke about the journey she’s been on to understand digital learning since last summer when, in her own words "I was totally clueless". Key to her increasing her knowledge was Twitter. She discovered a huge community of teachers able to help and support her development.
As she grew in confidence Sarah realised that no one was coordinating digital learning across her school so she took on the role. In the past year she’s used a wide range of tools and offered the audience some advice:
- Don’t simply follow fads, choose wisely
- Stay focused on the learning
- Find tools that help teachers to save time
Watch all the presentations (including Ross’s brilliant ‘My Ed Hunt’) here
The next #SLTeachMeet is taking place in Scotland on 13th July more information here.
Join the conversation on Twitter - #sltchat takes place every Sunday 8.00pm -8.30pm (GMT)