TSA – KS3 @ CCC (Slides)

Ever since I began working at Chalfonts Community College I have been impressed by the role the school plays in teacher development. Currently, we offer teacher training placements for ITT students; an impressive middle-leader programme; funding and support for teachers who wish to complete Masters level study; and this year we were invited to be a pert of the Hearts and Bucks Teaching School Alliance.

On Monday, we will be convening with St Clement Danes School and Parmiter’s School for our first TSA Conference. During the morning we will be working in departmental teams, sharing best practice and forging links for the future. I am really looking forward to working with the other English departments and I hope that my team get a lot out of the day.

Our time together begins with an opportunity to present our vision for Key Stage Three, following the introduction of the new National Curriculum. In all honesty, we have not made significant changes to what we have been doing over the last two years. Many of the key areas of learning that have been emphasised in the new NC were already priorities in our programme of study, having sought to create a greater degree of continuity between Key Stage Three and Four.

However, putting this presentation together has been a useful process. And I am looking forward to presenting it, along side Joanna Green (Deputy Leader for English), tomorrow.

*The slides can be viewed in full screen and you can access speaker notes by clicking on the cog. If you have any questions please leave a comment.

Open – Connected – Distributed: Learning [#TLAB14]

TLA Conference Logo

On Saturday 22nd March I’ll be joining a host of other educators at the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Conference hosted by the Berkhamsted School. This is the second instalment of the conference, following last year’s highly successful inaugural event. A wide range of keynotes and workshops were delivered by a diverse group of educators. I am pleased to say that I was one of them and I’m even more pleased to be able to say that I was invited back this year to run another workshop.

Like my previous workshop, I will again be focussing on independent learning. Over the past two terms, I have been reflecting on, and evaluating the various approaches that I employ to help foster independence in my students. While in my previous session I encouraged attendees to ‘take the leashes off’ of their students, this time I’ll be asking them to consider ways to make learning in their classrooms:

Open – Connected – Distributed

In a continued effort to subvert the educator/learner dichotomy, I have ‘pushed the envelope’ in developing in(ter)dependence in the students that I encounter each year. In doing so, a set of principles emerged; whereby learning inside and beyond my classroom became: ‘open’, ‘connected’ and ‘distributed’. This workshop will illustrate the pedagogies and practices that have informed such an approach, including the use of social networking, collaborative writing and self-reflection. Moreover, it will seek to generate thought and discussion as to how you might tread a similar path with your own students.

Why Open?

Openness has become a core tenet in my educational philosophy. As a teacher and as a learner I believe that learning should be transparent. Nothing should be hidden. A part of this has been putting students at the centre of their education, inviting them to participate in setting the direction of their learning; giving them a voice.

Why Connected?

Having participated in and also having run my own Open Online Course, I believe that forming connections is a key part of how we learn. Underpinned by the pedagogical concept of connectivism there is clear evidence to suggest that independent learning is most effective when it is interdependent.

Why Distributed?

I believe that learning should be distributed and shared. Learning does not occur in a vacuum, nor does it have to be constrained by the curriculum, timetable or by physical space. Utilising a range of tools, learners can not only improve the way they learn as individuals but they can distribute their knowledge and skills for the benefit of others.

I walked away from #TLAB13 far richer as both an educator and learner. I fully expect #TLAB14 to be just as valuable if not more so. I am also looking forward to re-connecting with many friends and to making some new ones. If you are attending the conference and the concepts that I have commented on above are of interest to you, I hope that you will join me in exploring them further.

*Slides for my session are available here in HTML5. Double click on any slide to view them full screen.

The Great Discontent

…there’s always this feeling of wishing or hoping that you’ll eventually arrive somewhere. But, I don’t know anybody who’s ever arrived anywhere. Everybody I know with half a brain is always a little bit nervous about how long they’re going to be okay doing what they’re doing.

Merlin Mann, 2013

As Merlin implies, life is a perpetual journey. As I return to this blog, after a lengthy hiatus, I am firmly engaged in the next stage of mine.

I completed my M.Ed. in September. It was one of the most enriching experiences I have had since becoming a teacher over ten years ago. As I worked to complete my dissertation I was promoted to Leader for English. While I might have hoped for a steady start, it has been an intense beginning to my tenure. During my first two months in charge I have: introduced setting at KS3; established a support programme for Year Seven students with low reading ages; participated in a departmental review; encountered Ofsted for the third time; and continue to learn how to lead a department made up of eleven unique individuals. Nevertheless, as I sit here reflecting, I can say that the last two months have provided the challenge and reward that I crave.

Had the past few months been more settled, I would not have gained as much from them. Learning, like life, is also a perpetual journey. If I was not challenged, if there was nothing left to learn, I would become discontented. Fortunately, as a teacher there is little danger of that. The variable nature of teaching make it deeply stimulating and fulfilling.

First Steps into Learning & Teaching in Higher Education [#fslt13]

I have just enrolled in the MOOC: First Steps into Learning & Teaching in Higher Education (#fslt13). This post serves as my introduction and outlines the reasons why I have signed up.

I am currently completing a dissertation for a Masters in Education, seeking to answer the following:

To what extent can virtual courses support the development of independent learning beyond ‘real time’ curriculum delivery?

To explore this I have recently completed the data collection process, which involved running a MOOC titled: Critical Skills 101. The course sought to  develop in(ter)dependent learning skills in 14-18 year-olds. I am currently analysing and evaluating the collected data and will be submitting my dissertation in August.

Taking the M.Ed has not only continued to fuel my interests in Independent Learning and Online Learning but has also made me question what it is I want to do next with my career. I had often felt that it would follow a path that would take me into senior management within Secondary Education. However, I am not at all convinced that I wish to pursue such a career.

As such participating in #fslt13 is going to serve several purposes:

I wish to explore another MOOC. As well as running the aforementioned MOOC: #crit101, I participated in #moocmooc  (A MOOC about MOOCs) during August 2012. While that MOOC explored open online courses themselves, I wish to participate in a course that is teaching a less-meta topic.

Moreover, having just completed  the delivery of #crit101, I hope #fslt13 will provide some useful reference points in terms of pedagogy, participation and assessment, as I continue to analyse and evaluate my course. In addition to this, I want to see how open badges are put into use in #fslt13 having implemented them in #crit101.

Finally, I am beginning to feel that studying towards a PHD and/or teaching within HE may be a career path that I wish to pursue. I hope that participating in this course will give me some further insight into that as well.

Posts relating to my participation in #fslt13 will appear here. Being in the middle of my dissertation poses a significant challenge to my time but I hope to be able to keep up with the course reading and get involved in some useful discussions around learning and teaching.