I really don’t think this is biased, but today I have had the most brilliant, inspirational time. Today was One Education’s first Literacy Conference #Litconf16; organised, created and driven by my inspirational colleague and Literacy Team Leader, Jo Gray.
Before the first coffee break I had cried three times and laughed until my ribs hurt. In other words, I listened to key notes from John Murray and Lee Parkinson (aka ICT_MrP). I also cried later on in the morning when MrP showed a video of a nine-year-old boy in his class, Oli, performing a motivational speech he had written himself to inspire his fictional countrymen to fight for freedom, for themselves and their families.
Of course I was expecting to learn a few things but I wasn’t expecting to be so moved and given the opportunity to think about what really matters and why. The message of the day from all our key notes was simply that: think about what you are teaching and why; encourage children to think about things; and focus on the whole child, not on tests.
Not everyone can be as inspirational as John and Lee, but we can all learn from them.
John (@ReadingExplorer) talked about the importance of text and word choice and his love for effective guided reading. He pushed us to deconstruct a very short text from an advert which we then watched at the end. Text first; don’t limit a child’s imagination. I loved John’s passion for books and stories; his focus on children; and his own family story (yes that was my third cry of the morning and yes, all before 10 am!)
Then we got Lee. @ICT_MrP. I thought to myself, I might just give this one a miss, although I’m an ICT fan, I’m not teaching in a class so I don’t need to know the detailed ins and outs of an app and how to use it. WRONG! Lee made me think about what we should be teaching, made me marvel at how creatively you can use ICT in the classroom without hours of reinventing the wheel, made me laugh, and, yes, made me cry too. He focused on the importance of performance in the writing process. That the writing only takes us part way through. That the task preceding writing must be of equal value to the writing. That everything children love starts with a written script, and that we are cheating children if we don’t let them ‘perform’ their writing.
John, Lee, the brilliant One Education team and the inspirational Michael Tidd all delivered thought-provoking workshops and we ended with a key note from Michael Tidd. I follow Michael on Twitter so I was already a bit of a groupie. He talks so much sense. He has a knack for making sense of what the government, Ofsted, STA, tell us to do; deciding whether it is right for children; and only doing it if it is – or rather adapting it so that it is. His message of doing more by doing less but doing it better, is an important one.
There was a real buzz about today and it was exhilarating to be a part of. From Jo’s ‘Once upon a time’ skirt to the hard work that went into the workshops from One Education’s Laura, Shirley, Helen, Sam and Nicola. From discovering the wonders of Google Expedition to the fabulous central Manchester venue. From the commitment of the events, digital and sales teams at One Education to the true meaning of ‘mastery’. It was all a treat.
I take it I’ll see you there next year? Keep your eyes open for #litconf17 or for more information contact the One Education Literacy Team.