Saturday, 20 June 2015

Collaboration is the key! #niedcamp

We all need to share our practice.
As an educator I have fortunately always seen the value of sharing practice, ideas and experiences with others, both colleagues and parents. I came to teaching 11 years after leaving school & I firmly believe my time spent out in the non teaching world helped me to appreciate how team work is vital to any individual's success. I firmly believe there is no need for every teacher to slog away trying to come up with the best ideas, plans, ways of recording progress, observations of learning or creative ideas. We can learn so much from each other but more importantly, we benefit from being around others who are equally passionate about their chosen career. 
When I was lucky enough to be involved in the British Council's Comenius (now Erasmus +) programme, I immediately felt the benefit of being in touch with colleagues around Europe who were enthusiastic about their jobs. At our regular project meetings over the 6 years I was involved in projects, I spent many late nights & weekends talking about school with like-minded colleagues, we fed off each other's enthusiasm & shared ideas that have had far reaching consequences for my teaching & therefore every child who has ever been in my nursery class. I always came back from the meeting exhausted but invigorated. 
I also chose to do further studies after finishing my PGCE and again found that the colleagues I met whilst studying for my Masters were of a similar mind-frame, many were involved in Comenius & we were all definitely those type of teachers who can never emerge from a shopping trip without buying something for school. 
The arrival of social media introduced me to a whole new set of like-minded colleagues, those who are to be found chatting about school & sharing ideas any evening of the week on Twitter or Facebook. I know many are very sceptical of social media & say things like 'I have a real life, I don't have time for Twitter/Facebook' but they are missing the point. Social media allows me to enrich my life with regular interactions with colleagues who are willing to share good practice & practical help. I always advise those new to Twitter to start following a few key people & watch out for certain # pertinent to their particular age group or level in school.  We also get to meet up every do often face-to-face which is even better. I now have many colleagues that are friends who started off as 'cyber acquaintances' and I have yet to ever find out that we didn't get on in real life.  
I went to my first TeachMeet in Stranmillis College in October 2013 & I was hooked from the first presentation, as I listened to a secondary school colleague talk with such passion about his job and the pupils he taught. I don't mean to be controversial but many teachers outside the early years tend to be quite negative about their jobs & the pupils & I often wonder why they are teaching at all. 
I have attended every TeachMeet since & put my name down to present as I think we all need to keep sharing our practice to help each other see that small steps can all add up to help us move forward.

I am excited at the prospect of a bunch of ordinary (well, they are actually pretty extraordinary) educators getting together to take control of CPD in Northern Ireland on August 18th. # niedcamp is the result of funding suddenly being withdrawn from the annual summer school that was run for teachers in N.I each August. The minute the word filtered through to the key movers & shakers they decided to take on the challenge of offering CPD to colleagues for themselves. 
The idea is that we, ordinary, teachers/educators sign up to present and share ideas/practice with each other or to just attend and hopefully be inspired by each other. 
Please make sure, if you are free on the 18th, that you come along to see that there is much to be celebrated in the future of education for N.I. 
Are you with us?

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