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Columban Story

Last year I was fortunate enough to accompany a group of students from my school on a Columba 1400 Leadership Academy on Skye. The talented Jamie Halvorson (a former student of mine and Columba graduate) was there at the same time to capture footage for Columba and asked me for my thoughts on the programme on camera. You can view the results of this chat above.

Connected Learning | Supporting a shift to BYOD

A Connected Learning Network (aka WiFi) is coming soon to my school…exciting stuff. As I’m currently off work awaiting surgery on my ankle I’ve been putting in a bit of work into creating resources to support the launch of this network. What’s perhaps more challenging than the network itself, is the change in mindsets we’ll need to have as a school when it comes to mobile devices. In order to make the most of this opportunity we’ll need to move towards a controlled and managed encouragement of mobile device use in class. We’ve therefore been giving some thought as to what we’ll need to do to make this work.

So far I’ve made the above videos, cards to be distributed to the students and an A4 guide explaining the background to the cards in more detail.

Many schools are currently in the position of thinking through how to support and manage a shift towards students using their own devices in class and so I thought I would share what we’ve done here in the hope that this will be useful to others, but also in the hope that you can share what you’ve done with us also!


I’m toying with the idea of resurrecting the PedagooLocal idea. We’ve tried it once before. We used to have a whole section of the forums on Pedagoo.org dedicated to the idea with the hope that we’d get lots of regional groups of Pedagoo’ers coming together to share and organise local events. There were a few gallant attempts at making this happen in a few locations, with even a few events taking place as well, but it’s kinda died away.

So, why bring it back? Well, following the success of #PedagooPrimary the other week there has been a few mentions of folk wanting to organise their own Pedagoo style TeachMeet in their local area and link it to Pedagoo in some way, but without wanting to go for the pressure of making it a bigger event. From the beginning we’ve tried really hard to welcome and encourage folk to organise events which use the Pedagoo name, but without going to the full free-for-all of the TeachMeet name. Some time ago we reached the conclusion that the best way to achieve this was to organise a Pedagoo event you needed to join the Curator team and broadly agree to the guidance described on this page when organising your event.

Pedagoo is first and foremost an online community of teachers, sharing their practice year-round via the blog and twitter. The idea of the events is to have the occasional physical coming together of members of the community to share practice more deeply in person, to encourage more sharing online and encourage new members into the community. For this reason, if someone asks to become a curator in order to run an event, I always ask them to first become involved in the online community and then ask again.

I’m happy that the approach we’ve reached has helped ensure that our events are run by folk who ‘get it’, which is important when running such a loose collective of teachers who haven’t always even met each other in person! The drawback however is that it limits the number of events we’re able to run, which in turn therefore limits our ability to achieve our objectives of encouraging more folk to share their practice online.

So, it is for this reason I’m thinking of resurrecting the PedagooLocal idea. I think this time we should perhaps not aim to to ensure there are Local groups of Pedagoo’ers all over the country – which was a bit of an ask. Instead, I’m thinking if someone’s wanting to organise a relatively small, local, Pedagoo-style event and are wanting to link it to Pedagoo, they could use the name and branding associated with ‘PedagooLocal’. As the Pedagoo name is now relatively well known, this might help them attract attendees and sponsors, and it would help us all to grow the community.

What criteria would someone need to meet to organise a PedagooLocal event? I’d be interested in your opinion, but for me I think the event would need to:

  • be free to the teachers attending.
  • take a longer format approach to sharing (i.e. primarily 30/40 minute Learning Conversations/Workshops as opposed to all 7/2 minute presentations – we’ve got nothing against TeachMeets, we’re just trying to add a bit of diversity to the mix).
  • be open to teachers from anywhere, even if primarily aimed at one particular area/local authority.

I think these would be the questions I’d be asking if someone were to approach us to use the name for their event.

What do you think?


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Thank you to everyone who contributed to the #ResearchMeet idea which I floated the other week, both online and in person at the City Cafe on Wednesday. One thing’s for certain, there’s an appetite for it and we should therefore definitely make sure it happens.

On Wednesday we thrashed a few things out and reached a few decisions. There was agreement that #EnquiryMeet was a better name than #ResearchMeet, and so we’ve changed it to that. We all agreed that it’s practitioner enquiry that we’re particularly interested in developing, supporting and sharing in Scotland and we should change the name accordingly. This is also more in line with the ethos of Pedagoo and the GTCS Standards. As a result, there was also agreement that a school would be a more fitting venue than a University, and we have a great one already offering to host the event, so more on that to come. We also felt that June was too ambitious to do this well, and in order to avoid clashing with the many events in August/September and the October holidays, we’re going to go for early November.

One of the other key decisions we reached was how to have some sort of criteria for sharing whilst also keeping it open and inclusive. We’ve decided the best way to do this is through the academic posters (wondering if we should rename these ‘Enquiry Posters’?). Anyone who wanted to present would need to submit a poster (and others could choose to only submit a poster and not present). All these posters would be uploaded to the web and printed A1. On the day, they would be displayed and attendees would interact with them, perhaps by adding post-it notes with questions? Anyone who submitted a poster would be able to then take it back with them to their schools – we have a potential partner who might be able to cover the cost of all this printing.

This academic/enquiry poster would need to include…

– Enquiry question
– A rationale for their enquiry
– The intervention they carried out
– The outcomes of the intervention and how they know
– Implications for practice/next steps
– References
– Contact details

The beauty of this is that the criteria for the poster becomes the criteria for presenting at the event.

So, what would the event be for? I think it’s important to stress that the purpose of this event would be to support practitioners to develop their use of enquiry. For some, this would involve sharing and discussing enquiries which they have already carried out, for others who are perhaps earlier in their enquiry journey, they might wish to attend to hear what others have been doing to develop their own understanding and ideas. And although the focus of the day would primarily be on practitioners sharing their classroom-based enquiry and research, it would also be good to have sessions more explicitly on the what, how and why of practitioner enquiry. It might also be good to have sessions such as this for those who are further ahead in their use of enquiry, perhaps on how to write for journals or apply for funding.

So, what are the next steps? Well, the plan is to confirm the venue and funding and then open up the event for submission of posters and presentations before the summer holidays. We’ll keep this open until the start of September and then get the event opened up to all then. We’re planning on running this event under the Pedagoo banner but working in partnership with others.

What do you think? Sounding good? If so…time to get your thinking cap on – what could you share?


I’ve had a wee go at a possible template for the poster. You can click on the image below to download the powerpoint file.
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Leading from the classroom #STEPConf

The ever magnificent David Cameron asked me to come along and speak at #STEPConf yesterday. My brief was to share the Pedagoo journey to inform a discussion on the following question:

How can teachers work together to influence developments in Scottish education?

I used the prezi above to structure the presentation and discussion. I had left the prezi unfinished and added in the outcomes from the group discussion which were as follows…

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It was a really fruitful discussion, and as usual I wish I’d left more time for it. What we were beginning to get to was that in order to have influence we need to first cultivate a culture of openness and sharing amongst the profession, which is an organic process and will take time. Along with that, policy makers need to be open to listening to teachers’ ideas and make the time and space for genuine partnership working between practitioners and decision makers.

I would suggest that one of the primary purposes of Pedagoo thus far has been to foster and grow a culture of sharing and to do so in a focused way which provides a collective voice which policy makers can then engage with. Yesterday has inspired me to consider how we could make more and better use of our Pedagoo community in Scotland to further support teachers to share and have wide-ranging impact…

“Activist professionalism is not for the faint hearted. It requires risk taking and working collectively and strategically with others. Like any form of action, it demands conviction and strategy. However, the benefits outweigh the demands. The activist professional creates new spaces for action and debate, and in so doing improves the learning opportunities for all of those who are recipients or providers of education.” Sachs, 2000