Updated: Nov 14, 2018
As I sat in the hall at St Georges school, Cologne, ready to hear Hywel Roberts open the Practical Pedagogies conference I turned to the man sitting next to me and asked if he was a maths teacher. A strange thing to do I suppose if you have never met someone before but there was a reason. Every teachers conference I have been to recently I have always ended up sitting next to a maths teacher. I don't have a problem with maths teachers, it is just when they find out you are a school librarian they are the teachers least likely to be interested in libraries. It has happened so many times that I have even added a quote to my presentation that talks about the importance of reading on maths so I at least have one thing to say to them.
However this time he wasn't a maths teacher is was a Geography teacher and we were soon talking about mystery hangouts and how school librarians can support Geography. It gave me great hope that this teachers conference would not be as hard as others I had been to. I also hope that this teacher remembers our conversation and goes back to talk to his school librarian on his return.
Anyway, Hywel had us laughing in the aisles alongside the serious message about how the curriculum had to be right for our children and with this final message we were on our way.
Session 1 and 2 Ross McGill TeacherToolkit
My first was a double session was with @teachertoolkit @Rossmcgill talking about the power of social media. It was sold as a advanced masterclass which I was wary about as I would not class myself as advanced. I was delighted and comforted that I was not completely bamboozled and there was lots that he was talking about that I was already doing. Blogging, tweeting and using Facebook groups I felt very comfortable with. I found this session really enjoyable as Ross is very passionate about what he has achieved and is very willing to share what he has learnt along the way. My sole purpose for attending this conference is to find ways to support teachers and could not believe that right at the beginning I had Ross talking about the need to understand the copyright of pictures. Ross can tell his own story but I was able to tell everyone at this session that school librarians can support teaching copyright, especially regarding pictures. Just ask us!
My main takeaway were:-
Make sure I was where my audience was and for me I am probably in the right place because my audience are teachers.
Make sure I had a hashtag that I attached to all my blog posts to make them findable. I will be going through my website making sure this is now done
Use and understand Google Analytics.
Keep blogs to 700 word or less (not sure I will manage it for this one)
Consider live tweeting. I always believe in giving something a go and when I was waiting to present I did try it. First attempts are not always the best and it took me 30 seconds to turn the camera round!
Lunchtime found me in the canteen sitting next to my obligatory maths teacher! At least I had my quote up my sleeve to keep the conversation going for a little while.
Session 3 Dominic P Tremblay StoryBricks Lego for Literacy
I was not sure if this session would be useful to me as a librarian but chose it because of Literacy in the title. I had also have a colleague who has done a lego course on which we bought a huge bag of lego that has never been used. I was here to find out how to use it. It was lovely to do a real hands on session. We were all given lego sets and over the course of the hour had to create our own story from what we could see and then create our own lego story and explain it. After we go over our own embarrassment we really got into it and I have resolved to go back to work, organise our lego into bags and to buy some grey bases. We then can share how to use these with our literacy teachers.
Session 4 Tony McAleese @T0nymca and Caron Downes Scenario based learning
The reason I chose this session was the tagline 'bringing the real world into the classroom'. I was really interested to hear how they did this and I was not disappointed. Although not particularly useful to my own line of work they had lots of brilliant ideas to bring lessons to life. At one point I was sat looking at poo that they had 'made' but that is a story for another day.
My brain was full to bursting after the first day.
I am really sorry that I missed Sam Haslam's talk: 15 practical tips to promote and maintain student independence in learning but as I was presenting the session after I had gone along to set up when I realised I could not access my presentation. Thankfully
Shani Hartley @shhartley was there at the right time and her calmness helped me stop flapping and get it sorted. This did mean however that by the time I was ready I felt it would be too disruptive to join Sam's talk. I hope to find his notes somewhere.
Session 7 QuadBlogging: Connecting half a million writers across the globe John Sutton and David Mitchell
I found this session truly fascinating. I have long since been a fan of blogging but to hear about the difference it can make to a child's education has really inspired me to encourage our teachers to give this a go.
What was it that made the difference? Giving the students a real audience. Do this and the impact can be huge. Just look at some of the amazing statistics.
Session 8 Reluctant Writers? Engagement and Motivation in Literacy - Carol Allen
After a long two days I did wonder if I had any more brain space to take anything else in. Luckily for me I chose Carol's session. A straight talking honest woman with a fabulous sense of humour. Her passion for education and years of experience made for a very interesting session. Her message was about understanding the children you are engaging with how to get the most from them. My favourite slide was this one, I bet you can't guess why... Carol is a reader and lover of books. She does not know me but during her session she became my new best friend :)
Again a session that could have lasted 2 hours never mind the one she was given and I look forward to hearing from her soon with all the resources she promised me.
This was once again a fabulous conference. Thanks to Russel Tarr there was so many opportunities to hear some great speakers and I was exceptionally proud to be selected amongst them. This extremely well organised conference should be on every educators list so watch out for the next one in 2020.