Friday, 23 September 2011

Inspiration - freebies are not the point!

I attended the Scottish Learning Festival this week, and what a glossy affair it was. My decision to go was made quite late in the day, so unfortunately the seminars and workshops I wanted to attend were booked up. My experience was therefore pretty limited. Until the one keynote presentation I'd been successful in booking, it meant that much of my day was spent with a colleague perusing the shiny, expensive merchandise in the Exhibition area and explaining for the umpteenth time to sales people, that yes I was a teacher, but no I didn't have a classroom or class and no, I wouldn't be buying their fantastic resource. There were a number of stalls with people trying to publicise their work who were incredibly helpful, (thank you in particular to the staff from British Red Cross, SCCYP, Society for General Microbiology, Boardmaker UK, Screening Shorts and SCRAN) and my aching shoulder at the end of the day reflected just how many freebies I'd got.

There were local authority stands, with children explaining successful projects they'd been involved in, but these were pretty busy, and I'm sorry to say I didn't peruse these closely. The majority of things weren't relevant to my work as an outreach teacher, and those that were I'm currently using. It was great to see the children so passionately describing their achievements to other delegates though.

In the afternoon I attended the Keynote presentation by Sir John Jones. By this time, after an early train journey throughout to Glasgow, being on my feet all day, and the rapidly developing temperature and teary eyes signalling a stoater of a cold, I was pretty exhausted. Sir John Jones is an ex-head teacher and has been awarded an OBE for work in education.He is now a motivational speaker, and a very good one. He tugged at our heart strings with emotive music, and many funny stories and anecdotes, all presented in a very slick and charismatic performance. My cynical tone here shouldn't detract from the fact that he was very good, and it was one of the highlights of the day for me.
As teachers, we take inspiration from the children we teach. It's tough sometimes, and it's so important to take stock, and remember that it's tough because we care and we understand the impact and difference we make to children's lives. At times, it is as simple as that, and while we wrestle with the difficulties of our profession, it's good to take inspiration from other professionals too. You can watch Sir John Jones' presentation 'The Future is Not What it Was' here.

Sadly, my aching limbs and the thought of not getting home till around 10 at night meant that I didn't attend the Teach Meet at the end of the day, which I had been most looking forward to. For that is where another source of inspiration should come from - our colleagues. Luckily I'm part of a great team who I can call on for support, but it is a shame I didn't widen this team.
Still, there will be more opportunities and I have a pile of flyers, pens, posters and memory sticks to shower my lovely colleagues with. I'll also continue to get inspiration from the children I teach. Best quote from one of my pupils this week: "I'm embarrassed but I'll try". (Sums up my feelings about this blog too!) One of the ways I taught him this word was using this. Next week, we're continuing to make a short animated movie to address the difficulties and issues he experiences in school. Seeing his face light up when the camera comes out my bag is my inspiration. As Sir John Jones said, "Your pupils will forget most of what you teach them. They will never forget how you make them feel".

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