This short post covers what I tried to summarise at the end of this fabulous event.
'I will go away from today totally inspired, and in awe, of the commitment, professionalism and wisdom that we have experienced, and which I know reflects the Scottish Education system and the work going on in our schools every day. Today was yet another example of the power of practitioners coming together to talk about and share their experiences and insights gained as reflective and thinking professionals. Egos were left at the front door, as everyone looked to support colleagues, whilst further developing their own thinking and practice. There were no set agendas, only those brought by each presenter in order to stimulate thought and dialogue around the common theme of learning and teaching.
We all know and understand that there are no 'silver bullets' to school or system development. Every academic or researcher worth the title has identified that system and school development resides in teacher and leadership, growth and development, not in a focus on systems, structures and accountability agendas. How often do we get this wrong, or the round the wrong way? Events like today show what can be achieved, and what might happen, if we trust and support practitioners to grow their own practice, and share insights with others. Teachers and school leaders are dealing constantly with imposed 'distractions' which pull them away from our core business. Today, and other similar events, demonstrate what can happen when teachers are given the right cultures, encouragement and support. What we have seen and heard today is all grounded in practice and context, reflecting the experience and wisdom that resides amongst practitioners in our system, and in every other.
What has been demonstrated today is what is being achieved every day by practitioners, is often despite the system, not through the support of the system. Which is why I feel we need to embrace Michael Fullan's call on schools and teachers to 'exploit policy'. By this he means that teachers and school leaders still find ways, within local and national policy, to take the right actions for their learners and establishments, based on their sound knowledge of themselves, their context and their learners. Much of what I have heard today is a reflection of that approach. None of what we have heard occurred in a vacuum or on a whim, all of it was born of professional expertise, informed by research and evidence.
The key themes that were explored in the various learning 'conversations' included:
- Creating cultures of reading for pleasure
- Equipping the teachers of tomorrow
- Teacher professionalism
- Raising attainment
- Reflections of an NQT
- Cognitive Science
- Outdoor learning
- Values and relationship based education
- Nurture in education
- Transforming CPD
- Developing ITE
- Stepping up to senior leadership
We finished up with George Ezra's 'Pretty Shining People' playing in the background. This has been one of my songs of the summer and I thought it an apt anthem for the PedagooGoliath attendees.