I was proud to be part of a nationwide event, run by teachers for teachers. I admit to a little grumble when the alarm went off, but I was looking forward to the topics on offer. Bill Boyd (@literacyadviser) opened the session and began with a spelling test. I’ve been called the spelling and grammar police more than once and I enjoy reading Eats Shoots and Leaves. I find it hard to split infinitives. I just can’t. So, I sat like Mrs Doyle from Father Ted, when she guesses the name of the visiting priest, waiting to start so I could collect my prize. They say pride comes before a fall, and what a fall it was. There is only one ‘n’ in ‘inoculate’ – and I’m still moving the letters of ‘manoeuvre’ around. Please note that this morning, I can spell them easily. I wonder if some pupils feel the same when faced with a test but let’s not go there just now. So, with great shame, I slid my glasses case over the paper. Nonetheless, less than ten minutes in to the morning, I was learning. I believe I understood Bill’s point; that at the end of ITE, we do not roll off an assembly line as perfect teachers. There always is room for growth.
From there, the sessions I attended threaded together nicely, as if we four who led the learning conversations had planned them together. I got some very useful suggestions from @davie_marsh about how to challenge the top 20%. I have been charged with tackling this with P5 Writing. So his discussion on thinking skills was very useful. Bill then got our group thinking about what literacy is, and how wide the definition might be, as well as how we might respond to such tasks as writing a literacy policy. He challenged us to write a blog about the day. It was time for me to write my second blog and this was a perfect opportunity. What you now are reading is one impact of his session.
Our thoughts next turned to the concept of inclusion, led by @PaulineMurray8, with its rights, legislation and challenges. This fitted well with my contemplations about increasing reading engagement across the school. Finally, my own; teachers involved in research. This seems to bring mixed responses. With Donaldson, (2011), recommending that teachers should be research informed practitioners, the expectation of a critical engagement with research throughout the Standard for CLPL and with study at Masters level for PGDE, it is likely that research will have a more integral role in teachers’ lives. So, for those who want to engage with academic literature, the GTCS has free online access to academic journals through its Education Source – EBSCO. We agreed in our discussion that the ability to develop a criticality of approach to policy documents and pedagogies was no bad thing. The Donaldson report “sees professional learning as an integral part of educational change, acting as an essential part of well planned and well researched innovation” (p. 15). I intend to use the EBSCO source as part of my enquiry into raising attainment in literacy.
If I was forced to choose one thing that resonated most with me, it would be Bill’s suggestion that when children – and particularly boys – are physically active prior to writing (please do not confuse this with active learning in any shape or form) then they can perform better. In the spirit of this and undertaking his challenge to write something ourselves, I took the dog a walk along the beach and mused over the conversations that had taken place and how it might impact on my practice. And, right enough, I formulated some ideas as we made our way along the sand. I now have some innovative and creative ideas for my Thursday morning meeting with the HT and DHT and there is the flicker of a Mrs Doyle face once more. I am enthused about approaching my task and consider the Pedagoo event a valuable use of my Saturday.