Learning Something New

A couple of weeks ago I attended my first ever Teachmeet. This is where groups of teachers get together one evening and present short talks of either 2 minutes or 7 minutes about some aspect of good practice which they want to share. At the Nottingham Teachmeet there were over 100 teachers there, including a few from my own school. This was a very inspiring event. What made it so? Firstly, it was its timing, a Friday night. I am sure that most people value their Friday nights at home at the end of a long week. However, all these people had voluntarily come to listen to others speak with a real passion on educational topics and all who were there had open minds. There is no charge for attending a teachmeet, no one is forced to go by their schools so to get so many there on a Friday night was inspiring in itself.
Another inspirational aspect of the evening was that so many were prepared to share their good ideas. This generosity of intellectual capital was fantastic and I picked up many good ideas and was also inspired by the format, short 2 or 7 minute talks encourage people to concentrate on a few big ideas but by providing links via the web you are able to explore in greater depth later.
I was also inspired by meeting so many of those who I follow on Twitter. This network is again very generous with sharing ideas but it was good to meet some of the people I follow and talk about their passions and areas of interest. There is a real danger when you become a head that you stop attending training courses, that you get out of touch with exceptional classroom practice and that you are removed from the craft of teaching. Contact through such means as Twitter and Teachmeets help to give you fresh ideas, help you to refashion your vision for your school and help you to stay fresh.
I have made a conscious decision this year to pursue opportunities such as these. I have been headmaster of the school now for four years so both on a personal and professional level it is a good chance to reflect. I was very fortunate to be given a sabbatical term before I took up my post and that was a superb opportunity to reflect but finding the time to do this is much more difficult now in post.
I have tried to follow this them of ‘learning something new’ in my personal life too. One new hobby I have embarked on this year is geocaching. For this I bought a great iphone App and largely it uses the phones GPS system to guide you to hidden locations where a log and small items of ‘treasure’ can be found. In other words, it uses the world around you for a large game of hide and seek. This has proved to be a great family activity, it gives new purpose to walks old and new and has meant that I have seen the countryside around our house more as well as ensuring that I get out with the family for some healthy exercise.
Another initiative I have been pleased to support is our week of languages which we are to embark on soon. For this staff across all subject disciplines and all parts of the school have been encouraged to sign up to speak to boys in a foreign language during one post-exam week. Again I have been impressed to see colleagues freely giving of their time to brush up on their O Level language skills with this purpose in mind.
‘Learning something new’ has proved to be both very inspiring and refreshing in recent months and I look forward to continuing to find new challenges. I will certainly attend further teachmeets, the positivity of being surrounded by so many passionate practioners is very uplifting. My geocaching too will continue and I have also taken some golf lessons for the first time in ages to help with the work/life balance. Thus, I end this half-term looking forward to new challenges ahead and safe in the knowledge that four years into my headship there are still plenty of things for me to learn, develop and be inspired by.