:::: MENU ::::


As part of my current role I’ve had the privilege of driving (& flying) around the country and speaking to hundreds of Scotland’s teachers about teacher leadership and what is needed for it to be developed. A common theme that is coming up regularly is the need for more opportunities for classroom teachers to network and share practice. A conversation with someone earlier this week got me to thinking, we used to do that a lot more when we were organising many more TeachMeets than we currently are – hence the tweet above.

That’s not to say there aren’t any TeachMeets happening in Scotland, there are of course, but they used to occur much more frequently. This I feel is a real shame, especially given that TeachMeet originated in Scotland!

So, what could be getting in the way of more TeachMeets being organised? For me, I think the TeachMeet PBWorks site is a barrier to many. It’s now overwhelmed by TeachMeets outwith Scotland, and it’s not straightforward for people to use if they’re not familiar with Wikis – hence the rise of the use of EventBrite in the organisation of TeachMeets. I personally prefer to use Google Forms as this avoids the Wiki problem without going down the ‘Ticket’ route – but I can see why people do.

So, perhaps what would help would be a dedicated TeachMeet Scotland site? Perhaps along the lines of Australia’s version? teachmeet.scot maybe? The site could have a clear guide for how and why to organise a TeachMeet, it could have an organised structure for finding TeachMeets in your area and an open system for creating TeachMeet event pages with a way for teachers to sign up without the use of EventBrite.

What do you think?

If you’re not keen, why not? What would you do instead to help regrow the Scottish TeachMeet community?

If you think this is a good idea, how & who could do this? Perhaps it could be something Pedagoo could facilitate? The site could be hosted on a subdomain of pedagoo.org? pedagoo.org/tmscot perhaps? We could seek sponsorship to purchase teachmeet.scot and have that redirect? If you like the idea in principle but you’re not keen on it being a Pedagoo thing, what would you suggest instead? A separate site would be the obvious solution if you object to it being a Pedagoo thing, but that would bring extra cost and would therefore need extra sponsorship etc [I currently pay for all of Pedagoo’s hosting and domain name registration myself out of my own pocket, I’m not keen on increasing this expense!]

I’m just keen to explore ways of supporting the regrowth of the Scottish TeachMeet community and this is one idea I’ve had to help achieving this…I would welcome your thoughts on this possible approach, or possible alternative approaches!

SCEL Engage #tellscel

Things are proceeding at a pace on my secondment to SCEL! I’m four and half weeks in now…but it seems a lot longer than that! In this time I’ve developed an approach to engaging with teachers and others on teacher leadership and offered to deliver this approach across the country. At the minute I’m busy arranging engagement events with all sorts of different folk across Scotland, which is exciting. I’m only seconded until the end of March so I really need to get cracking as that’s not as far away as I first thought.

I’m planning on regularly updating on progress with the engagement over on scelengage.com, as well as incorporating online engagement approaches through this site also. As a result, I fear that I won’t be updating this blog very much between now and Easter.

If you’d like to be kept up to date on the SCEL teacher leadership engagement work therefore it would probably be best to head on over to scelengage.com and sign up for email updates on that site.


How to engage?

So, I’m now two weeks into my secondment with SCEL and what a fortnight it has been!

Given that my job is about teacher leadership, I had obviously started off by reading as much as I could about teacher leadership. But…my job is primarily to be about *engaging* with folk on teacher leadership, so how on earth am I going to do that? I had started with some basic questions which had first occurred to me, but Lesley pointed me in the direction of ULab: workforcescotland.com/ulab

Since then I’ve become engrossed with Theory U by catching up on the ULab MOOC as quickly as possible, and have spent a fair bit of time considering how to use this to inform our approach to engaging on teacher leadership. I’ve now got a plan and I’m excited to be sharing it with @TeamSCEL on Monday morning…

As a result of my exploration of ULab, I’ve also discovered the wonderfully supportive #ulabscot community and have already had opportunities to meet with some interesting folk.

And finally, I’ve now got my SCEL twitter account all set up, please give me a follow: @fearghal_scel

What even is teacher leadership?

I’m so excited to be joining the SCEL team on secondment to work on developing approaches to supporting the development of teacher leadership. But, when you stop and think about it, that’s quite a colossal task! That’s why I was incredibly relieved when Gillian and Lesley made it clear to me that actually the main purpose of my role is to engage as widely as possibly on ‘teacher leadership’ and then use this engagement to inform the development of approaches to support.

So, I started with my own reflection…

“What is teacher leadership?”

That’s a harder question than you might at first think. Before I tried to answer it I was confident that I knew what teacher leadership was, but now I’m not so sure. Is it being a Principal Teacher? Is it mentoring an NQT? Is it leading a session on an in-service day? Is it leading the learning of your students? Is it being an expert in your subject specialism? Is it being an SQA appointee? Is it sharing your practice in your school, online or at TeachMeets? Is it all of these things? Is it something else entirely? Is it about agency? Is it about autonomy? And if it is all of these things and more, how on earth can we support teachers to develop as leaders? And, crucially, why is it worth supporting teachers to develop as leaders?

And so I’m currently at that stage when you’re starting a new post when your head is full of more questions than answers. As much as I now relish this stage in my learning, I will at some point soon need to move past this stage and take these questions, and more, out and engage as widely as possible.

So, what do you think? What is teacher leadership to you? And how can we go about supporting it? Ideas welcome in the comments below…

In the meantime, did you know SCEL have recently launched their impressive new framework for educational leadership? Check it out now: scelframework.com

It’s not about the device, it’s about the learning

As much as I love Twitter, sometimes it really irritates me. If your timeline is anything like mine, there will be a regular appearance of a tweet linking to some article or blog post telling other teachers how they’re doing it wrong. This is true of education technology as much as any other subject…

Mobile devices? Impossible. Tablets? Rubbish! Chromebooks? You must be joking. What you need if you’re in any way rational is this shiny device…

Ugh. I’m tired of it. Why? For two reasons. Firstly, if a teacher is using mobile devices, or tablets, or whatever, in their classroom, it’s because it’s the best they have access to and they are doing their best by their learners…please stop criticising them for it.

Secondly, it’s not about the device, it’s about the learning. It’s what you and the learners do with it that counts. Although using technology in the classroom does to some extent develop learners’ skills in using technology, this is of tertiary importance to me. What’s more important I think is developing the ability to look at the tech you have and be able to think “how can I make this do what I want to achieve?” and then work out how to make that happen. People quite often refer to me as having good IT skills, I would disagree, I would say I’m good at trying things out, tinkering, exploring and making them work for what I’m wanting to do as best I can. The way the world is today I would want my learners when faced with a new piece of tech to think “I wonder what I can do with this” and not “I don’t know how to use this”.

But most importantly of all, tech in the classroom has the potential to facilitate changes in pedagogy. It can help us to involve the learner in the learning process, to try enquiry or project-based learning, it can enhance the learning by removing barriers. If someone is achieving that with chromebooks (and they are), great. If someone is achieving that with tablets (and they are), fantastic. If someone is achieving that with mobile phones (and they are), brilliant. Let’s stop making them feel inadequate for the tech they have, and start talking instead about how these devices can help us to revolutionise learning and teaching. 

Let’s stop obsessing about devices, and focus instead on learning.