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Looking forward to #SLTCamp

As a Guerrilla Geographer and general ‘troublemaker at large’ in my last post, I enjoy (un)conferences.  Especially those run on a weekend and promoted through social media. They tend to be full of like minded enthusiasts. It is true that there is often an element of preaching to the converted at such events, but the same can be said of many professional learning conferences and workshops.  When was the last time you genuinely came away from something with new views?  Having said that, there’s nothing wrong at all with gathering together a bunch of professionals that share the same page, especially as there’s no real plan and the sessions will be created by the people there.  The energy and enthusiasm of similar events (such as TLAB13) keeps my enthusiasm and love of teaching alive. The difficulty comes when it’s time to return to the ranch.
I’ve been involved in organising TeachMeet Pompey for a while now and have been lucky (although I’ve never really figured out how or why I get asked) to be invited to speak at a range of conferences and events.  The frustrating thing often is, that no matter how many nuggets picked up in the talks or brain melting thoughts shared, the real learning (for me anyway) comes over the dinner table or inside the bar afterward.  That’s not to say that in order to receive quality learning you need to eat and drink lots, although it helps….  That’s why I’m looking forward to #SLTCamp: for the opportunity to follow up conversations with a little less time constraint.  I’m looking forward to meeting others and sharing ideas, especially the times when things haven’t gone to plan or when something has failed.  Although that may sound bonkers, it’s through talking about challenges and low points that some of the most powerful learning takes place.
As it’s September the 1st at the time of writing, I’ll be starting my first senior leadership role tomorrow.  That’s a little scary and I’m looking forward to learning a great deal, the timing of #SLTCamp works well and I’m hoping to share some of the reflections of my first two months of the adventure.
The theme of the powwow is ‘Igniting Change.’  This to me links to the heart of what leadership is: leaders light the touch paper and stand back.  It’s about getting other people to do the right thing as no leader can change things on their own.  Of course, within education, it’s automatically assumed that change is always needed so it will be interested to consider how we know that change is needed and how we figure out what the change needs to focus upon.  I’ve always been a great believer is simple but effective strategies that provide high leverage when compared to the input, so I hope that there will be a wealth of ideas around this theme.
As the person looking after NQTs, I always used to advise them to get off site to a conference aimed at NQTs.  The reason was to surround themselves with people in the same stage of learning as them.  It’s the realisation that you’re not the only one paddling that boat and that others are facing similar triumphs, frustrations and obstacles.  I’m hoping that #SLTCamp will do this for me around senior leadership.
On my part, I’m hoping to get participants out and about, perhaps with a Saturday morning run and/or some geocaching (I’m toying with the idea of attendees setting up an #SLTCamp themed Geocache).  I also hope to share how young people can be involved in providing feedback to leaders as well as getting involved in school change, even when it’s something controversial.  I’m also looking forward to sharing some approaches to CPD within school.  I have some experience of this and truly believe that high quality professional learning is engine to drive school improvement.
To put it simply, I’m looking forward to it!  Already the pre-challenges are getting the thoughts in order.  The biggest challenge so far is to think of something to bake……….


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