Last night I attended the brilliant teachmeet at John Henry Newman Catholic College.  It was a bit of a journey from South Wales but I was really keen to hear about the work people were doing on Co construction and student leadership.  I was not disappointed.

A great range of presentations that were both inspiring and extremely informative.

Kevin Bartle (@kevbartle) opened up with his keynote on the student trojan mice.  A great concept that discusses the need to create true student leadership in the classroom and not hand over leadership from a top down approach.  The key thing I took from it was the butterfly effect idea that starting of a small idea and allowing it to spread was a lot more powerful than telling people what to do.

In order for true leadership to happen it needed to be truly student led, in the classroom and beyond.

Darren Turner then followed this with a talk about culture and climate and how to facilitate change.  the key thing here for me was that too often we use check-lists to see what we are doing or not doing and if the tick goes in the box then we feel in some way that we have done a good job.  What we miss is whether we do that thing well, does it have an impact and actually bring about a change?  It was about this point there was a bit of honking and talk of geese, all relevant but definitely a ‘had to be there’ moment.  In order for change to happen you needed lots of positive feedback, this would then encourage people to continue in the direction they are travelling and even if there is some negative energy thrown from those that resist change, at east there is a dialogue to help assist the change.  the notion of encouragement through feedback was not just to students but also staff and with any change in culture it is needed in order to keep people wanting to make the extra discretionary effort.  The end quote from a sportsman really rang true about how you create a collective movement.

“We want the players(teachers and students) to be responsible for their own games, (actions) and for the decisions they take out on the pitch, (classroom) so that when we win (reach our goals), it’s not about the Captain (Principle) or the Coach (Senior Management Team)  The more responsibility and accountability taken by the players (staff and students) the healthier it is for the team (whole school)”

We then moved into a break out session where we discussed these concepts, this was really useful to just discuss what we think about student leadership and what it looks like.  made me realsie what sort of student leadership I currently do through the use of blogs and Edmodo.

On to the main event and the presentations

David Hyner spoke about memory stacking.  ironically i remember a lot of his presentation because it was fun and silly.  It was a presentation on how we can help our memories by making things fun and silly.  Easy stuff really.  We were asked about our memory and the hitting bit was where he spoke about how education almost breeds mediocrity.

Three things will help with memory as they impact on the amigdala, scary, silly and sexy (love)  If you make the things we teach memorable ten they will be remembered.  the use of memory stacking is a fairly simple process of imagining or drawing silly images.  It does work as he proved to all of us in the hall.

Ben Stanley @trilby spoke about creating apps in the classroom, I have done a bit of this through ibuildapp.com and it is part of a current project with my Y10 BTEC class in Sport.  he demonstrated the use of app creator apps to help storyboards of what an app might look like.  Simply sketching things out and then using the app to take pictures of each page and how you would navigate around it.  Really engaging and would easily encourage creativity.

The digital leaders really stole the show for me and yet again proved that this form of student leadership shows the true potential of students.  They spoke with such passion about what they did and how being a digital leader had developed their confidence and skills.  They talked about the projects they had done from leading in the classroom, training staff, helping local primary schools and to running assemblies, as well a sthe work they had done to help set up this event.

Jon Bridgeman then selivewred a presentation on effective feedback. 80% of feedback received is from peers and 80% of that is inaccurate.  It is clear that to answer this we need to help structure the feedback to make it have impact. He discuseed Public Critique, that to give feedback effectively you follow simple rules.

Kind, make the feedback about the work not the person.

Specific, it should explain why it is good or why they like it.

Helpful, it should actually bring about a change to the outcome.

If students follow these steps (and it is useful to actually teach them using examples) then they can benefit from the peer feedback.  Jon used Austins Butterfly as an example to illustrate this.  A child who turned a fairly abstract picture of a butterfly into a quite impressive version just through peer feedback.

Tom Warrander @TheHGPig then presented on his work around classroommedics and the great stuff he was doing. He has a website http://www.classroommedics.co.uk where there is a whole host of information about science and medicine that can be used to help motivate, inspire and inform students about loads of different things.  I will definitely be using the ideas around sports hall science.

All in it was a great evening with some truly inspirational presentations.  It is really nice to see people with the same educational philosophy as I have and hear what they are doing about it in their schools.  The idea that education is more than just chasing the sheep grades B A A*(my favourite animal reference from the night amongst the goose and butterfly) that we are meant to be developing the whole child not just getting them qualifications like a conveyor belt.

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