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RGS TeachMeet: Getting the NEA right.

Here is a slightly extended version of my talk given during this morning's TeachMeet. You can also view the slides.
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Trust and support our school leaders, the role of the governing body in the Covid times

One of the roles that I love is being the Chair of a Governing Body.  The aim of this post is to share what we are doing, as a Board, during these difficult time.  I will refrain from commenting on the role of the Government, DfE and local authority as I intend for this to be both a positive and useful post. What is clear is that governing bodies have a crucial part to play. I am grateful both to the brilliant Clerk and the National Governance Association whose Covid advice pages are fantastic.

Firstly; from the outset, the brilliant leadership team that I work with have my unwavering and public support. Regardless.

As this is a fast evolving crisis, often with pages of advice, guideline and directives to decipher and digest on a daily basis. As such, the role of governing bodies is twofold:

1.  to prioritise the providing of support to the Headteacher and all colleagues in the school, and
2. to allow them to get on with operational matters and decision making.

The role of the govern…

Workflow and connections

The video above is my short talk given at the start of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society's Virtual TeachMeet. 

A short watch, containing some tips based upon workflow and ensuring we keep connections with young people.

#GAeConf20 Primary session

On Friday morning, I had the privilege to talk about primary geography as part of the #GAeConf20. Entitled 'Getting to grips with the hard parts of primary geography,' the aim was not to be seen as the expert, telling others what to do. Indeed, in my role as a Chair of Governors for a primary school; my experience working in an all through setting and from cross-phase working all of my career, I have learned far more from my primary colleagues than they could ever get form me.

With this in mind,  I canvased the opinions of the attendees ahead of the session using a simple Google form. From this, I found that their main areas of challenge were:

- fitting in geography around the pressures of the primary curriculum;
- using the local area and developing fieldwork;
- map skills;
- ensuring progression.

I know that a range of slides means very little without the accompanying commentary, and this will be available soon on the GA website. The links to further reading and ideas can b…

#GAeConf20 TeachMeet

The past month has seen some extraordinary times. When I first learnt of the demise of the annual Geographical Association Conference, it was heartening that Harriet and the team set their sights on creating an online version.

I'm pleased that I could play a small part in this by hosting the 6th GA Conference TeachMeet. This is embedded above. Thank you to the 340 or so that joined at the time. Since then, there have been over 1000 views. Visit the YouTube page to find the links to each presentation and additional resources.

I haven't checked the facts but:
- The largest attendance of a TeachMeet
- The youngest story teller: Theo, aged 5.
- An audience of enthusiastic lurkers from all around the world.

A massive thank you to:
- The story tellers - 14 brilliant chats about simple ideas that work.
- The enthusiastic lurkers who flooded Twitter and YouTube with comments, communication and collaboration.
- The GA team for continuing to support the event.
- Discover the World Educ…

In the Covid-19 landscape, belonging is more important than learning.

“You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place...like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again.” Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

As a geographer, I can speak with confidence about belonging to a place. Belonging is entwined with the places that we visit and interact with. Every one of us views every place in a slightly different way. Belonging to a place; belonging to a community is an essential human feature.  In the current situation, we ignore nurturing bonds of belonging as we lurch and strive toward online learning at our peril.

During the Covid-19 craziness, take 10 minutes. Pause. Reflect on where you feel belonging.

What did you come up with? For me, I belong to:

my family, spread all around the country. (For clarity this includes Leah Moo as she's bound to ask and the Dog Tryfan). I am separate from my son a…

Looking in on learning: a six step cycle

Trying to take the temperature of how teaching and learning is going is no simple task. This is mainly because there are many proxies for learning and that learning takes place over long periods of time, rather than within observable, neat chunks. This post has come about after a conversation with my brilliant colleague Mark where he wondered how we could get rid of lesson observations all together.

Whilst the measurement of lesson performances has always been bonkers, there is a need to check the quality of what goes on around school so that senior teams can support and stretch teachers. Indeed, monitoring is important in order to support high quality teaching and learning.  Personally, I think the main mistake made when looking in on lessons is that the observer focuses on the teacher rather than the student. This causes teachers to perform when someone drops in, when they should perhaps create moments where conversations with the young people can be had.

Anyway, here is a suggesti…