Glow login button

Contrast options:

Text size:


CPD Team

All posts tagged with ‘Innovative CPD’

TeachMeet hits its fourth birthday: Coming of Age

Comments: none

tmfutureTeachMeet is entering its fifth year and the unconference for teachers, by teachers has helped hundreds – maybe thousands, in fact – to try out something new, alter the way they already teach and learn, join a community of innovative educators or completely transform their way of working.

The hope was that the model would spread. It has, but as those who have created and helped pull TeachMeet together over the past four years, we want to see it spread further, deeper and with increasing quality of input from practitioners. This post outlines how we think we might manage this. This is the beginnings of a conversation with those who care about TeachMeet. Add your views in the form of any blog post or comment or tweet – tag it #tmfuture

What are the goals of TeachMeet?
TeachMeet was originally designed to:

  • Take thinking away from the formal, often commercialised conference floor, and provide a safe place for anyone to pitch their practice
  • Provide a forum for more teachers to talk about real learning happening in real places, than one-hour conference seminar slots allow
  • Showcase emerging practice that we could all aim to undertake; sales pitches not allowed
  • Be all about the Teach, with only a nod towards tech that paved the way for new practice.
  • Provoke new ways of sharing our stories: PowerPoint was banned. We wanted people to tell stories in ways that challenged them, and the audience
  • Empower the audience to critique, ask questions and probe, all online, through SMS or, later, Twitter.

Over the years, these ‘rules’ have altered, leading to some great innovations, others less so. The answer to “What is a TeachMeet?” has become a myriad of meanings, some pretty far off the original goals. We need to help and support people to organise, run and contribute to events that build on previous ones. We need to make TeachMeet as accessible to newbies as it was in 2005. We need TeachMeet to once more find its focus.

Supporting the “infectiousness” of TeachMeets

Organising TeachMeets should not be easy. Taking part in them should be. But more support is needed for organisers:
  • Sponsorship is hard if there’s no bank account into which funds can be sent
  • Without sponsorship, any event over 30 people becomes tricky to organise while also giving people a special night of learning, the time, space and mood that gets people over their self-conscious selves
  • Paying for refreshments and venues is impossible if there’s no organisation to pay them the precise sum.
  • The best TeachMeets provide social space, social activity, entertaining MCs, good refreshments, good online coverage and some form of online ‘conclusion’ – this needs coordinating by the organiser(s), but it’s not a skill everyone will have the first time around.
  • We’ve got a superb opportunity to curate the best bits from all these TeachMeets that are happening weekly – this needs a degree of oversight.

A means to make TeachMeet more sustainable, easier to use for sponsors and organisers, and have the ability to do something spectacular
TeachMeet is owned by the community that shape it – but there needs to be a body to manage sponsorship and sponsors, and provide support for new organisers so that they maintain the TeachMeet goals. We assume that if someone is organising a ‘TeachMeet’ they would like to emulate the success of those popular early TeachMeets, and better-supported national conference ones (e.g. SLF and BETT).

What would support from the TeachMeet body look like?

  • Seeking of sponsorship all year round – including ways and means to get your message to as many teachers as possible
  • Brokerage of sponsorship – i.e. one place sponsors and those seeking sponsorship can come together, in a transparent manner
  • Recommendation of onsite support (good venues at discounted rates/free, A/V, event organisation [for bigger venues], catering etc)
  • Suggestions for various formats that have worked in the past
  • Mentoring from previous TeachMeet leaders including on-the-night help
  • Featuring of content and promotion of the event in a timely manner on an aggregated, higher profile TeachMeet site
  • A group calendar so that events can be seen by geography and date
  • Promotion of TeachMeet through international and national events, using contacts of existing TeachMeeters
  • In-event publicity (e.g. if you plan an event at a regional ICT day or national event, then we can help broker paper materials for insertion into packs etc)

But, above all, TeachMeet is reaching a point of saturation in the UK – things are going really well in terms of enthusing teachers about their own learning. We have a great opportunity to carry over a small proportion of the sponsorship and contributions towards creating a TeachMeet culture in countries where teacher professional development in this way is still blocked by barriers physical, financial or cultural. This is just one idea, harboured for a long time but unable to realise in the current setup.

This body can take the form of:

  • A Limited company (with a Director and shareholders)
  • A Charitable Limited Company, with a board of directors and voting rights for fellow ‘shareholders’ (we could work out some way of people being ‘awarded’ shares based on [non-financial] involvement?)
  • A Social Enterprise, perhaps formed as a Limited Company (see more information on what this means and how it might work (pdf))
  • A Charity (this feels like a lot more red tape to pull through and perhaps not entirely necessary)

As we take things forward we invite you to contribute your ideas and thoughts to make things work smoothly. We want you to comment, probe and make your own suggestions before the end of June, using the tag #tmfuture

Reflection on another Teachmeet

Comments: 4 Comments »

tmperth10February 2010 and I am reflecting on another TeachMeet, this one at Perth and organised by Neil Winton of Perth Academy. TeachMeets are educator-led, informal CPD events. The organisation of a TeachMeet works like this:

  • someone starts a page on the TeachMeet web site with a location and date.
  • people sign up on the wiki page as 7-minute presenters, 2-minute presenters or ‘lurkers’ (not presenting but taking part in learning conversations)
  • people can also sign up to take part virtually using webcam technology

There is no charge for a TeachMeet and organisers usually seek limited sponsorship to cover venue, refreshment and Internet costs. The National CPD Team has sponsored several of these events and hopes to do more in the future.

On the night, it works like this:

  • the organiser comperes the event
  • someone ‘curates’ the webmeet to make sure the online colleagues are included. David Noble of Hillside School does a grand job with this task at the ones I have attended
  • presenters’ names are drawn at random and jump up to share practice when their name is drawn
  • the 7 minute or 2 minute time limits are strictly enforced by launching of stuffed toy missiles!

Why do I like the Teachmeet format?

  • It’s democratic. Anyone can go and present. If your name is not called, you don’t get up! Margaret Alcorn (National CPD coordinator) attended one in East Lothian recently and was the only one not to be called! No preference was expected or given
  • It’s edgy. You don’t know when or if you are going to be called. If the organisers throw in some random activities you might just find yourself building a leader in Lego or up at the front singing the CfE Blues (as happened at LeadMeet 09)
  • It leaves a legacy. Most of them are recorded and can be revisited (TMPerth10 is here). You make contacts and see practice that you are unlikely to come across in conventional channels
  • It’s empowering. Many who apprehensively attend for the first time, put their name on the hat for the second time
  • It’s fun. Even though they typically take place from 6 to 9 in the evening, I have yet to doze off during a TeachMeet! ;)

Elements of the TeachMeet format (particularly the idea of randomly selected, short presentations) can be embedded in more conventional CPD events. I recently attended an event for CPD leaders in the Central Authorities Forum. ‘Volunteers’ were randomly selected to share for 2 minutes and no more or they faced the CPD Team stuffed Galloway Coo!

You can find out more about the history of TeachMeet on Margaret Vass’ blog. If you fancy starting one in your area, just give me a shout. I’ll be happy to help if I can as will many others in the educational community in Scotland and beyond.

Yet more innovative CPD – a virtual reading group!

Comments: 1 Comment

Guest Post from Catriona Oates of Scottish CILT

If you have ever taken part in a book discussion group and thought the format might well be useful for professional purposes, then put this date in your diary – Thursday 28th January 4pm -5pm.

At Scottish CILT ( the Scottish Centre for Information on Languages Teaching and Research ) we are committed to supporting the professional development of languages teachers across Scotland. We do this in several ways: through our programme of CPD events both national and local, on an outreach basis; through our news updates and enquiry service, and through the on-line educational journal, the Scottish Languages Review. We dipped our toes into Glow last session and had our first on-line CPD event in June, which was very successful, attracting 17 participants from across Scotland. We then live streamed the keynote talks from our national conference on MLPS in September.

This session, we took inspiration from David Niven of Wallace High School in Stirling and decided to follow his lead and organise a virtual professional reading group. This is a great idea that David started in his department and it hits a lot of targets for us. We like to think that we help teachers develop professionally through reflection on their own practice and engaging in professional dialogue.

We know that money is tight and CPD budgets are coming under increasing strain; we edit and publish a cost –free educational journal of relevance to languages teachers. It is the most frequently visited part of our website attracting hits worldwide, but we’d like more teachers in Scotland to be aware of it and make use of it, so our first reading text will be Content and Language Integrated Learning : Motivating Students, Motivating Teachers by Prof Do Coyle of Aberdeen University. Do gave the keynote talk at our September national conference and inspired many teachers to think about content and how we approach this in languages classrooms. We’d like to take a closer look at her thoughts on this and make a space to discuss what might be attractive in this idea; what might the barriers be, and where these ideas fits in with Curriculum for Excellence.

If you’d like to join us please get in touch – either with Mandy Reeman Clark ( or myself, to register interest for the event and download your free copy of the reading paper. Looking forward to seeing you in the new year!

Visit the SCILT Glow groupplusglowbutton

Graphic Novels with Dr. Mel Gibson – CPD Event for Teachers

Comments: none

David-Balfour_tcm4-398696This is a guest post from Katie Barrowman of the Glow team

For all teachers interested in using Graphic Novels with their classes, there’s the chance to join an exciting CPD event via Glow Meet!

Dedicated academic Dr Mel Gibson recently wrote the Learning and Teaching Scotland resource Graphic Novels in the Classroom. Join this enthusiastic author for an inspiring hour of what comics and graphic novels can do for young people.

She is appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Thursday the 20th of August at 17:00, with her talk entitled Visual Literacy, Learning & Graphic Novels. If you can’t make it along to the festival, you can hear Dr.Gibson’s talk live on Glow Meet, and there will be the chance to ask questions.

Go to the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s Glow Group for all the details on how to join in, and if you want to whet your appetite, check out the brilliant graphic novel resource, created by Dr. Gibson for LTS.

Leadership for Learning : Learning Rounds seminar (4th June)

Comments: none

Colleagues from 6 local authorities attended what turned out to be a very successful and engaging day on the 4 June . The theme was Leadership for Learning with a particular emphasis on the Learning Rounds process which is premised on a collaborative observation approach with non-evaluative feedback aimed at influencing systemic change within a school or authority. Sheila Smith and Margaret Orr shared their experiences in Angus and North Ayrshire where there has been significant engagement in the process with colleagues in the secondary sector across a number of schools. Feedback from everyone involved has been very positive. Margaret Alcorn outlined the work in progress with a number of director colleagues and the anticipated involvement of participants in the Flexi Routes for Headship initiative.

The mental and physical agility of colleagues was also tested by exercises posed by Graham Thomson of SCSSA , a long standing friend of the CPD Team and a key player in the Learning Rounds journey. Everyone rose to the challenge – for those who were there on the 4th , this was a real experience as they followed colleagues’ instructions or advice on how to get off the floor !

SCSSA and the CPD team are finalising materials which will support the Learning Rounds process and these will be accessible on line – further details to follow. Any member of the team would be happy also to respond to any enquiries.

A journey round Learning Rounds

Comments: none

This a guest post from Stirling Mackie, Head Teacher of Irvine Royal Academy

 “The secret of management is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided”

(Casey Stengel, former manager of the New York Yankees. All other quotes are from Yogi Berra, former player with the New York Yankees)

One thing about learning rounds is that it delivers the exact opposite of Casey Stengel’s advice. In fact it positively rejoices in doing the opposite and mixing everyone up!

I was fortunate enough to attend the conference addressed by Professor Richard Elmore at Hampden Park in Glasgow in 2007(?). It was being able to hear first hand from Elmore which really inspired me to look more closely at this way of aiding school improvement.

My next step was to buy his book ‘School Reform from the Inside Out’. It is a surprisingly ‘easy’ read and confirmed my initial thoughts that there was something in this. However, like so many other ‘good ideas’ other things got in the way of taking it forward (like an HMIe inspection).

However in 2008, North Ayrshire decided to volunteer to be part of the national learning rounds pilot. The journey of everyone involved in that part of the journey is recorded elsewhere. What I want to share is Irvine Royal Academy’s individual journey, which has already taken a somewhat different, or quicker, route (perhaps Virgin Express rather than …well a slower train company).

We were first to welcome the mixed group of headteachers, deputes, authority staff, academics etc etc into our school to observe learning and teaching. It was on a volunteer basis, and for a variety of historical reasons, we had more than enough volunteers.

This brings me to point 1.

 Irvine Royal Academy was a school at a stage in its development where staff were anxious to invite ‘outsiders’ into their classrooms. Two years earlier I think I would have struggled to get more than a handful of ‘guinea pigs’. In other words much preparatory work had been done (‘inadvertently’ and for other reasons) to create an ‘ethos of openness’ in the school. So in asking yourself, will learning rounds work in my school, the first requirement is, “how open is the school culture currently?” In my opinion learning rounds can considerably help the further development of a culture of openness, but to implement it without it, could potentially lead to conflict and have the opposite effect.

‘You can observe a lot by watching’

I was committed to the learning rounds model and wanted to pilot it. I decided to approach Principal Teachers, on the basis that they already had experience of classroom observation as part of the school’s quality assurance procedures. Only two declined the opportunity.

We put them into groups of two/three and set up observations for them in departments that were not their own. A member of the SMT was also attached to each group, and in one case Margaret Orr of the National CPD team joined one of the groups.

Point 2

Principal Teachers adapted to the learning rounds model quicker than the HT/DHT group. They adopted the descriptive voice, and came up with an impressive list of observations, which can easily be turned into an agenda for action.

They thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and interestingly, their observations also caused them to reflect on their own practice, and lead to immediate changes in their own pedagogy and methodology. Is this powerful CPD or what?

‘If you don’t know where you are going you will end up somewhere else’

We always had a clear idea of where we were going. I wanted to involve ALL staff in the learning rounds model. Would staff want to be involved? Overwhelmingly yes. Approximately 80% of unpromoted staff have volunteered to join a learning rounds group. They may not express it exactly as I do, in the big picture of school improvement, but they have real clarity about two things.

  1. That this is powerful CPD.
  2. That the object is to improve learning and teaching and thereby more fully engage students and raise attainment.

We have planned to set up the next round of observations by unpromoted staff during ‘SQA time’.

‘The future ain’t what it used to be’

Thank goodness! The future used to be a ‘done to’ model. This is a ‘done together’ model. It works for us because of the climate which had been built over the last two years. It might not work in other places. However;

  • I have no doubt as to the advantages that this model can bring to the process of school improvement.
  • I have no doubt that staff are correct. This is powerful CPD
  • I have no doubt that the impact is immediate.
  • I have no doubt that this is real collegiality.
  • I have no doubt that we will continue to develop the model further.

What will education look like in 2020?

Comments: none

That’s the ambitious question that has been set by two colleagues from Islay High School, Ian Stuart and Andy Wallis. To help answer it, they have arranged an ‘unconference’ on a Friday evening, no less. More than 40 educators, including me, will be coming from all over Scotland, from Ireland, England, and the United States to discuss the question.

 The unconference will look at 4 areas; assessment, future spaces, learning for all and relevance of skills. There will also be an opportunity to take part remotely using Flashmeeting technology.

I will of course, report back on the event. In the meantime, you can find out more on the education2020 wiki

New leadership CPD on CPDFind

Comments: none

If you are an educational leader (aspiring or otherwise) you will be interested in the latest provider to CPDFind.  The National College for School Leadership (NCSL) website has a wealth of online leadership opportunities and has kindly given LTScotland and the CPD Team permission to highlight some of them through a partnership provider on CPDFind.

My own particular favourite, 50 lessons!

All these opportunities are in the public domain already but we will be featuring more soon that are only available through the NCSL Learning Gateway and explaining how Scottish teachers can access them.

Learning to change – changing to learn

Comments: none

Highland Virtual Learning Centre – Open to all!

Comments: none

As a result of my visit to Inverness (see blog post innovatively titled A visit to Inverness) we now have some of the HVLC titles described on CPDFind. I am grateful to Highland Council for their support in this (particularly Kevin Logan) and to Anne McGhee for the actual creation of the CPDFind entries. It was heartening to see colleagues from Stirling adding these to their wish-list of CPD opportunities at our workshop recently. It brought home to me the real power of CPDFind to share practice.

You can see the complete list of HVLC opportunities here. Just click on the View Opportunities button at the foot of the page.