Last night, something rather special happened. Teachers came together from all over Oxfordshire to transform the way that they plan at the first ever TeachMeet Fishbowl.
This all began in a meeting between James Bird (Oxfordshire Primary LA Advisor) and me (BrainPOPper), at the Rusty Bicycle, where we talked for a long lunchtime (over soft drinks!) about the joys of being inspired by innovation, at events like TeachMeet, and the challenge of making that transferable to the schools and teachers we worked with.
James had the idea to use an adult training method (andragogy) called Fishbowling, where a small group take on the role of ‘experts’, and engage with a real life problem, whilst a wider group watch and contribute. This is how it was set out (see the annotated version on Flickr courtesy of Leon Cynch for more detail):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/learn4life/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
This event needed to focus on the one aspect that all the TeachMeets, conferences, and workshops we had been to sometimes lacked: practical steps to improve planning.
How could we change that moment when a teacher sits with a blank sheet of paper – and turns it into a plan!
We hoped for three outcomes:
1 – That participants would be able to get engaged with planning in a way that they could take away ideas to apply to their schools immediately
2 – That we would inspire each other and share new ideas, tools, resources
3 – That we would create a local and powerful learning network which would have life after the event.
James has written more about what we planned and hoped for in a blog post: TeachMeet Fishbowling
I set up a Ning space, we invited folk in, most of whom had not really used online spaces in this sort of way. Fishbowls are not about ICT or technology led. We made the event invite only and kept the proceedings closed (not streamed) because we wanted to test this model and allow people to be open and honest, without fear of colleagues, parents or looking daft!
I invited Tom Barrett and Dawn Hallybone to help us, as great friends of BrainPOP UK (they are both VIBs!) and experienced TeachMeeters (Tom was so inspired that he filmed himself at the beginning of his planning process for his Superheroes topic last term) and Leon Cych, of Learn 4 Life offered to come and video the event.
We were also lucky to be joined by Mark Berthelemy who has years of experience making CPD work, both on and offline.
The hardest thing to do in any walk of life, is to bring about behaviour change. Even in those who want to change, or believe in it, acknowledge that making change happen is difficult and rare.
Last night we got some talented and skilled practitioners to share, think, and do in a slightly different way. We set in motion something that was unique in all our experiences of CPD. Questions of how we sustain this, and the ways this fits with policy and in practice are hard. But I have no doubt in the abilities of the people in that room to find the answers – together!
Is this way ‘better‘? Can I make a value judgement of the efficacy of this model, just because people did something different from normal? I know that we captured the ‘Aha!’ moments that make traditional TeachMeets so inspiring, but also grounded them in practice. We demonstrated the power of social learning – something we all believe in with children – and established network based on trust.
BrainPOP UK was involved because we believe in local CPD networks. Which is why we support TeachMeets.
There are lots of great posts already, talking about last night, if you want to read more about it, try these starting points:
Finally, can I thank:
- Oxfordshire County Council who supplied the the venue
- Tim & Moby for providing the food, drink and nibbles.
- Joe, Victoria W. , Lizzie, Rebecca (who came despite being in the middle of an Ofsted inspection), Mike, Row, Joan, Dawn, Mark, Tom, Nick, Matt, Leon, Carol, Carolyne, Victoria S. , Amy, and James (did I miss anyone?).