On Saturday 14th June, I travelled up the M5 in the company of the lovely Emily King (@eking90), knowing that we were going to have a great learning experience at Pedagoo SW. What actually happened was even better than we were imagining.


It was one of the hottest days of the year, both literally and figuratively. As we arrived at Bristol Grammar School it was bathed in beautiful sunshine and were met by the wonderful @CristaHazell and the amazing @DOCTORMassey. We were soon roped into to filling lanyard pockets, with the names of the amazing attendees and workshop leaders, who were to give up their day to help us teachers get better at what we do.


I am sure that more eloquent people than I will write blogs about the day, but here are my reflections of the critical points for me.


Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist) kicked of the day in the Grand Hall. To say that I felt as if I was in a Harry Potter set was an understatement. The knowledge that many great educators and practitioners had sat where we had eager and ready to learn, was a thrilling experience.


Rachel Jones  (@rlj1981) gave her keynote. She is full of humility and graciousness and talked about teaching being a force for good, and how we have impact as practitioners, but that we may never see or realise this in our own lifetime really struck a chord for me. (Link to her blog and keynote at the end). She ended her session with this (most popularsong at the moment with my year7/8s) but remixed for teachers.

This set the tone for the rest of the day. The recurring theme through many of the sessions I went to, was one of LETTING GO, and allowing the students to take charge of their own learning in ways that they couldn’t have done before; all the while providing the CHALLENGE of AWE and WONDER (to see this done amazingly you need to watch Nina Jackson’s (@musicmind) workshop  –  that learning can provide.

This theme continued throughout the workshops I attended, all of which have been videoed and the link is below.

So here is a brief summary :

Sesssion 1 – Better Teaching and Learning (Digital Stuff)

 David Morgan @LessonHacker

Gave us ideas about using digital stuff in the classroom and the power of harnessing the ICT in kids pockets. He suggested we ‘Get over ourselves’ and accept that we don’t know everything, so use Classroom Geniuses to support the ICT in the room so it frees us up to teach content. Utilise the connectivity of 24/7 that our pupils have to responded to the incessant beep of the notifications and their Pavlovian response to it, by using systems like Edmodo to send out homework tasks, reminders of test, and other classroom messages. Also the key to embedding this is to ‘USE IT MORE THAN ONCE’ so that pupils get the message (no pun intended) and that this is the way you are going to communicate with them. It was here that the theme of ‘Letting Go’ was reiterated by handing over to pupils the opportunity to hand in work via Google Docs or other VLE platforms so that you can mark on the hoof, no matter where you are! Feedback is instant and you can track those changes or responses from pupils.

Session 2 ‘Stretch and Challenge your Able, Gifted and Talented Students’

Robert Massey @DOCTORMassey

I was now in the amazing theatre and listened as Doctor Massey talked about ‘Shouting to the Top’, why are we teaching to the lowest common denominator and then adding in extra for those Gifted and Talented pupils. We should be Teaching to the Top and then providing the support for the less able. We should assume that everyone is capable of being brilliant and allowing pupils the opportunity to show us.

He reinforced that those we deem as G&T often feel different to the rest of the school and we need to recognise this and treat them with some TLC as they are often vulnerable themselves and feel the pressure of expectation. Remember that learning is a roller-coaster of ups and downs, not a smooth curve as the so called experts lead us to believe.

So how do we teach to the top, he talked about slowing down our teaching and providing more depth, proper lesson time for DIRT, using Big open questions, and revisiting work and creating this as a culture, not just a one off. David Fawcett has written some great work on ‘Layering and revisiting.’ (link below) He went on then to give some examples of how he does it in his classroom.

Session 3 Multipliers

Nick Dennis@NickDennis

This session was about the Multiplier effect. How do we look for successes of the team around us and build on those to improve the culture of the school? By giving people and students both permission to be smarter. This was a really thought provoking session, looking at the ‘Energy Vampires and Energy Radiators’.

The main question for me that came out of this session was ‘Are you the genius or a genius maker?’ which as leaders should be fundamental to developing great teams and multiplying the positives. Again the theme of Letting go resonates, but this time for your teachers and challenging the ethos by questions.

Session 4 Closing the Gap Marking

Chris Hildrew @chrishildrew

This final session was one where I was able to validate all the work I had been doing on marking and assessment. Chris spoke about the importance of marking and how using various techniques can improve quality, learning and outcomes for the pupils in your class. He amended the Ron Berger quote to one of ‘If it’s not excellent then it’s not finished’ which gave the phrase a more open ended feel as not all students can reach perfect.

Here is the list of ideas he talked about:

Peer/Public Critique

Triple Impact Marking

          Self Assess

          Teacher Assess


Code marking

There was great discussion about the grading of work and how this affects the feedback process and when it’s appropriate to give a grade or just feedback.

Once again, this resonated with my feelings on deepening the learning and response rather than, how well you do. Being a science teacher, I often find pupils fixated on why they went up or down a grade, but as we teach three disciplines they find themselves at  different levels and to master this and the understanding of the subject area this can also impact on levels, so feedback allows me to look at skills, and understanding, rather than a number.

The day was wrapped up by David Didau (@learningspy). He suggested that we should find what makes us happy and that we should question what it is that we like and remember that we are all wrong even if we are right!

I was one of the valiant that stayed for the evening TeachMeet, which was organised with amazing prizes and refreshments and more cake provided by @flymygeekflag that you could eat, nicely served by @bestysalt and Mark Anderson.

The evening presentations still rang with the ideas of ‘letting go’ and challenge your students’ It was great to see newbies presenting the first time from @MrsWood on SOLE to many others.

So it remains to say that I take away a sense of pride to belong to such a great set of educators and privilege to be part of such an amazing Pedagoo event.