This is a guest post from Catriona Oates of Scottish Cilt
Tuesday 3rd November
Big excitement! Last night I participated in my first flashmeeting – an online meeting, organized by teachers who wanted to share their experiences of teaching Modern Languages; in particular this time, their experiences at the London Languages Show. The time and the agenda were set by the participants in advance, agreed, it seemed at their previous online get together. So – what exactly is a flashmeeting? Essentially, it is a video conference, which starts out as a blank sheet of paper. Contributions, ideas and agenda items are added by the people who want to be there, to hear what their colleagues have to say and to share something themselves. A maximum of 25 people can participate and a waiting list is organized in case of cancellation. That’s how highly valued these places are: and remember, it took place between 8.30pm -10.30pm on what seemed to be the first day back after mid- term, AND they’d all spent the weekend at the London Languages Show. Who says teachers aren’t committed! Within the lucky 25, we were joined by colleague Steve Collis from Sydney Australia and Doug McAllister from Missouri, USA.
There was huge enthusiasm for the Languages Show at which many of the participants had presented, in particular for the sessions Chris Harte and Lisa Stevens presented. The Show and Tell session organized by Joe Dale was also a highlight for many. Several of the participants commented on how this Languages Show had been the best one so far, on account of the social networking ( mostly via Twitter) that was going on – an interesting comment as exactly the same was said about Scottish Learning Festival this year and I found this to be the case myself.
The agenda was as follows:
- What were your impressions of The Language Show and or The London Show and Tell event?
- What do YOU want to get out of the **MFL Show and Tell 09** in Coventry in 2 weeks time?
- How do you use your VLE and what sort of resources do you have on it?
- How are you implemeting the new KS3 curriculum and what effect is it having on engagement and KS4 uptake?
- Do you have a local SLN and how has it helped with the introduction of the New Framework?
- What practical advice would you give to a languages teacher needing to record their GCSE speaking tests for the first time as mp3 files not on cassette?
- What’s all this I hear about Storybird?
The meeting functioned much along the lines of a Glowmeet, with the bonus of being open to anyone. There were chat functions, voting functions and a good web sharing function that I didn’t get the hang of. There was lots of really good chat going on and when I asked people what they thought would be a good focus for a possible Scottish Languages Show, Creativity; Thinking Skills, Active Learning and Cross-Curricular approaches were some of the suggestions that came back. Sounds like a good start (We’re working on it – no promises!).
The Languages Show is obviously a very big part of these teachers’ professional development, as are the follow through activities they plan around it, like last night. Some very interesting comments were made around the subject of CPD. Several teachers said that they had learned more about teaching in the couple of years since joining twitter than they had in ten of twelve years teaching, on account of the professional exchange and sharing that goes on there. I could say the same but for me the proportions would be a couple of months to seventeen years!
No CPD certificates were issued as a result of attendance last night, and there was a queue to get in. When you consider the number of courses that get cancelled due to poor numbers, for whatever reason, this raises interesting questions. With budgets, curriculum and many other things changing all around us, we need to be ready for changes in our approaches to CPD. This is teacher –driven and teacher owned CPD. There is a place for national CPD providers within this context, but not quite sure of what it might be at the moment. One thing is for sure: we don’t want to find ourselves on the margins looking in and admiring what is going on!
Don’t just take my work for it, here are some other blogposts written just after the event: