The Norton Teachmeet

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Last Wednesday 1 July I visited Norton College, an 11-19 academy, for #TMNorton, a TeachMeet organised by @KerryPulleyn.  The drive took over an hour at the tired end of term but @HYWEL_ROBETS was the first keynote speaker and, as ever, his twenty minutes asking ‘How do we hook children in?’ was well worth the drive there and back plus the figurative price of admission all on its own.  Hywel’s slides such as the cow laughing at a trapped horse never fail to entertain and prompt a few thoughts, but it is also Hywel’s reflections such as ‘It’s sad that we talk about teaching in terms of survival rather than in terms of influence’ and questions like ‘What excuse is there for a curriculum that’s disengaging?’ that make him such a pull.  He should be forced to present at every single TeachMeet and conference up and down the country until every teacher has seen and heard what he has to say to us as a profession.

@seahamRE had the tough gig of following Hywel, but he is definitely a man up to that challenge, and his presentation on the benefits of conflict and controversial views in order to lead students into a pit of challenge and then onto their own independent thoughts was wonderful.  I have once seen a video of a school in New Zealand that deliberately led students into “The Pit” in order to build resilience and develop stronger learners, and Barry was onto something similar here through his excellent talk.

The presentations throughout the entire evening were of a high standard, including many practical tips such as @mrlairdatnorton’s active engagement strategies and @missbsresources’ ways to bring numeracy into the curriculum.  I particularly enjoyed @paulrowilson’s ideas for using images to make learning stick, such as a learning bookmark that employed key images as an anchor to allow pupils to then recall key information throughout the school year.  He was convincing in his argument that deep learning comes from repeatedly revisiting these images in different ways to require the learner to actively engage their memory.

One of the wonderful things about TeachMeets is that a teacher can offer the room an idea in three minutes that changes how you will approach and plan future lessons.  I think that the short presentation by @khunterTandL  was my personal favourite from the evening.  She talked about developing self-regulated learners who develop metacognitive skills all through the simple and ingenious idea of a pre-mortem whereby students are shown a crime scene of a future point in their learning, e.g. the crime scene for their next assessment, and are asked ‘What went wrong?  What killed it?’ They then have to fill in metacognitive pre-mortem sheets that list ways in which they could have failed to develop knowledge or skills and/or failed to apply these properly in the test.  A wonderful task that helps ensure students don’t subsequently ‘murder’ their next assessment because as they go through the stages of this lesson they become increasingly conscious of ways in which they need to self-regulate and develop as better learners.  Inspired and inspirational.  Thank you, Katie.

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There was no sense of the evening dragging or the presentations dipping in the final hour.  @mrsjacksonmusic talked about the benefits of project week at Belmont School, and this has already led to conversations with colleagues at my school about how we can get more from our learners in the final weeks of term following internal exams.  @lisajaneashes  is always an excellent speaker, and was great on communication, confidence, and how a teacher sets the tone in the classroom.

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The evening ended with a finishing keynote by the deputy head at Norton College, Simon Carson.  I don’t think that Simon has a social media presence, but I wish he did because he was extremely good; a man that you wanted to work for after hearing him talk for only ten minutes.  It wasn’t just what he said but the way that he did it, however the essence of Simon’s message was that we all need to read the research and then think about it, test it, challenge it, because the hardest thing for us to do as teachers is to change what we do in ways that aren’t superficial.  I suspect (and certainly hope) that the evening at Norton College at the tired end of term leads me to change what I do next year in ways that are not superficial.  Particular thanks are due to Kerry for organising the evening.  Apologies to the speakers if any of my interpretations are inaccurate and do not reflect your intent – the above is just my take on a few of the notes that I made while you were talking.

One thought on “The Norton Teachmeet

  1. Many thanks for your kind words about my short keynote. You are right that I have no social media presence – I lurk, but stay well hidden! I hope we can meet again at some future teachmeet and perhaps spend some time talking about how we can develop our staff further, and learn from each other and the different ways our schools develop teaching and learning. Your own presentation was thought provoking and fascinating and I would love the opportunity to understand your diagrams better. Simon Carson

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