Lead Learn Lancs 2017: A Review

Lead Learn Lancs 2017
Lead Learn Lancs 2016 was a watershed moment for my teaching career. It was my first venture into a Twitter (In Real Life) Conference. I was first introduced properly to Literacy Shed with @redgierob (Rob Smith), first met the irrepresible @isright (Mike) and also the lovely @flymygeekflag (Sarah Bedwell). It was also the first time since University that I felt what I call ´full´. In life and in faith/spirituality whatever you want to call it, sometimes we fall foul of allowing ourselves to become empty. Empty of inspiration, passion, energy, enthusiasm. As teachers I think we stand at most risk of becoming empty, as our job is to fill up others. I definitely felt that way before last year´s conference.

But making my way to sunny Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire, I felt full for the first time in years. Re-engaged, re-enthused, re-inspired… you get the drift. Fast forward to this year´s conference and I found myself not only leading a workshop, but having encouraged a number of speakers to lead their own. It definitely felt like a family affair. Sarah Bedwell does such an amazing job of organising these events and attracting wonderful speakers from Primary, Secondary, FE, HE… to provide a heady mix of workshops.

The second Lead Learn Lancs on 30th September 2017 was no exception. First the keynote from Nathan Ashman. Nathan spoke about learning from the past to allow teachers to move forwards. Aided by a relic from the past (an Overhead Projector) he reminded the delegates that moving forward is necessary, but that it takes time to embed new practices and warned that teachers can´t just jump on every ed-tech bandwagon that comes along. Care needs to be taken that technology is used thoughtfully and with the lesson aims in mind, a view echoed by a number of speakers.

Unfortunately I missed the other workshops in Session One as I was busy leading my own workshop entitled ´Sound Advice: Using Music in the Classroom´. I can´t comment on how good that session was (but it was amazing). Other workshops on offer included the lovely Lynn McCannon Mental Health support for SEND pupils, Adam Chase´s app extravaganza, standing-room only for Simon Smith´s hastily-assembled Picturebook workshop, Lacey Flook on Girls in Leadership and Simon Hunt advocating the use of Skype in the Classroom.

Next up I attended the workshop lead by Mr. Reading himself, Ashley Booth (@MrBoothY6). Ashley shared his successes in developing reading in his school: covering how he has raised the profile of reading through the use of Social Media, as well as ensuring that books are chosen and shared carefully and with purpose. In other rooms: Pobble´s Henry Smith on making writing ridiculously exciting, @ST3AMco´s Nick Corston on building community through creativity, last-minute mysterious Vocabulary Ninja, Tim Head on using Green Screen to aid creativity and representatives of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

Simon Smith´s second stint of the day focussed on how leaders can develop an effective team and help their school improve without the need for changing staff. In other rooms: the effervescent Bryn Llewellyn of Tagtiv8 on increasing children´s activity levels, Kamil Trzebiatowski on utilising EAL pupils´ first language, Poet in residence Paul Jenkins on using Poetry to crack SPaG, John Sheppard from Resilience Doughnut on the difference between resilience and toughness and a repeat performance from Vocabulary Ninja (who apparently isn´t as secretive as you might think.

Lunchtime was usual conference procedure: bump into people you ´know´ from Twitter and a chance to chat to new faces. The venue was perfect for this sort of event and the School´s Junior Leadership Team and Prefects organised the whole event seamlessly.

The afternoon promised more delights: I attended Colin Grimes´ session on using Apps to inspire awe and wonder. Yes, THE Colin Grimes sharing his expertise on Chatterpix, SeeSaw, Greenscreen and Book Creator and their impact on his teaching. Alternatively, Alan O´Donohue showing delegates how to create their own interactive stories, the sage Sam Collins of Schoolwell on the ´Wellbeing Paradox´, Anne Williams providing a plethora of AfL techniques, Mike Watson helped to bring the indoors out and Adam Llevo teaching his group how to become Formnomenal with Google Forms.

Final workshop of the day for me was the Word Maestro himself, Mr. Jack P_Hillips. My favourite talk of the day (sorry to everyone else), Jack talked us through how he is developing his pupil´s use of vocabulary. His 15-minute Vocabulary sessions are having a positive impact on writing in his classroom and it´s easy to see why. Jack led the delegates through a typical Vocabulary lesson: reinforcing our knowledge of the word ferocious with techniques ranging from drawing pictures to analysing the word root, reading child-friendly definitions to saying the word out loud in a range of hilarious voices. Jack is clearly passionate about words and this came through to the delegates in his session. Other options, which I´m sure were equally as good, were: Anni Poole on Wellbeing in schools, Nick Corston stepping in for Chris Dyson to provide an insight into Parklands Primary, Leeds, THE Colin Grimes repeating his session on Apps for Awe and wonder and finally Rich Farrow on ´cleverer´ curriculum design.

The day was rounded off by the sensible, astute Stephen Logan whose keynote provided an insight into how the perceived failure in his childhood have driven him to be the best teacher he can be. The perfect end to the day, only topped off by resident Poet Paul Jenkins reading his poetic review of the day.

All-in-all, a wonderful day filled with workshops, incredible educators and willing delegates who gave up their Saturday to share and collaborate. My final(ish) sentence is dedicated to Sarah Bedwell who single-handedly organised the day, what a wonderful member of the Edu-Twitter family who was ably supported by her mature, solicitous pupils. Roll on Lead Learn Lancs 2018.

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