Just over a week ago I set off from deepest darkest Norfolk heading for even deeper, even darker Surrey! I stopped off with my sister in Reigate and made sure she knew where I was heading and rang my partner on the way into ‘No signal Woods’ to warn him if he hadn’t heard from me by Sunday, where to come looking!
To make matters worse I mis-typed one letter in the postcode and on getting lost at a nearby school, asked for directions to the youth hostel.
‘Youth hostel? I don’t think there is one round here.’ Slight, very slight, panic started to set in. As I drove into the gently it car park and stumbled my way down a dark path to the front door, I wondered whether I should have called my kids one last time! Then suddenly warmth, light and smiles lit my way. Hugely warm welcomes from everyone (about 7 people) with people introducing themselves, especially Sarah and Stephen who were like long-lost friends. By 10 when the Teachmeet began there must have been nearer 40 of us.
The weekend was the most superlative of CPD I can describe. It wasn’t full of fancy resources, posh conference rooms, shiny waiters (?) and expensive lunches. It wasn’t padded out with lengthy powerpoints and huge files of high-gloss paper, and speakers in advisory capacities. It was simple, straightforward and accessible. The food was warming and tasty and the drinks flowed freely. The company was perfect, everyone found a friend or five. The freebies were surprising and such fun. Mostly though, the topics shared were interesting, powerful, provocative and inspiring.
I was actually shaking when I did my Teachmeet, two glasses (yes just two) of wine on Friday night didn’t help but I was also awestruck by the presenters who had gone before me. I was just sharing my learning but it felt like everyone else had passed my line ages ago. It didn’t matter though because it was something I am enjoying learning and it links well with change in schools and change in me, the theme of the camp.
Saturday was brilliant, so many great activities for fun but also for taking back and sharing. I want to introduce shared CPD (or JPD (joint professional development)as labelled by @wherenext5. I love the idea of sharing chapters amongst staff and feeding back. I was able to query what others in #goprimary (!) are doing regarding assessment, marking, feedback and in particular the new curriculum. I was absolutely delighted with the response to my jigsaw plans, it was something I needed to hear, that actually I am doing ok and people like my ideas. What a laugh we had doing salsa too!
I loved meeting so many like-minded pro-active educators, prepared to dip into their own pockets for a risk. I loved the fact that the risk was sooooooo worth it. Stephen and Sarah are astonishing, admirable and amazing; they have inspired me beyond anything I thought possible and I am extremely grateful.
I was delighted to be given a personally signed copy of Mick Water’s book ‘Thinking Allowed.’ And also quite chuffed and winning a bake-off prize (did anyone ever taste it?! and thanks to Jill Berry for the prize!) so many cakes too! And even more chuffed for jointly winning most enthusiastic participant (probably loudest too!!)
Now, on reflection, after a week away I shan’t be changing who I am, or how I am, this is me and someday, hopefully soon, someone will see what I can offer and give me a leadership position which I can throw my all into. In the meantime, I will keep learning and giving back to my brilliant class, who I am teaching to ‘Roar’ vis a vis Katy Perry.Can’t wait for next year’s. If I’m allowed back 😉