Primary really does rock!

I’ve just returned from #PrimaryRocksLive (other educational conferences are available) and am tired but totally inspired!

There has been some criticism about teachers attending CPD on Saturdays which I find rather odd. It is a choice! The naysayers’ response to this? It will become expected. My response to this? Ridiculous! It’s like saying that if a member of staff does an after-school club, everyone will be expected to do one, or if a member of staff creates a fabulous reading area, everyone will be expected to do one.

I could discuss why this culture of some teachers feeling threatened by others has developed but that would take this blog in a direction that was not intended. Instead, I want to celebrate the collaborative nature of #PrimaryRocksLive.

The day began with an introduction by one of the organisers @gazneedle (my first follower on Twitter)! This was followed by an uplifting keynote from @musicmind. She certainly got us all in the mood and set the positive tone for the day with a sing-a-long and dance to Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’. Her important message about bringing creativity into the classroom sang out loud and clear. Shout out to the teacher who came up with the idea of attaching a toy to some kites and launch it to generate ideas for writing, i.e. what did the toy see on its travels? Genius!

After a goosebump inducing live (via Skype) performance by a children’s choir, organised by @grahamandre, it was time for the first workshop.

Sadly, I haven’t found a way, yet, to clone myself and go to all the workshops. It’s times like this that Hermione’s time turner would come in very handy! The workshops I attended, however, did not disappoint.

First up was @jenwillis with her excellent workshop about using manipulatives in maths. She showed us a great idea for teaching times tables (I now know 7 x 8 by the way) using a counting stick and the ‘boss’ number. I was sitting with someone who said as a non-teacher he wasn’t sure how to use base ten equipment to solve column addition, so the teacher in me took over and I dutifully demonstrated how to do it – only to discover it was @jpembroke data analyst extraordinaire!

Lunch came next with a chance to catch up with people, although frustratingly there were people I chat with on Twitter that I didn’t realise were there or didn’t get the chance to speak to. Also, at lunch time the famous ice cream van arrived. Big thanks to @MissKnuckles and @Snotlady5 for getting me an ice cream.

After lunch, were the final two workshops back-to-back. First for me was the wonderful @claresealy who talked at length about all things memory, before breaking her own rule about bearing in mind cognitive load and going on to explain the process behind her school’s 3-D curriculum. It was truly fascinating stuff and perfectly timed for me, as curriculum lead, at a time when we’re just starting to draw out the key knowledge and vocabulary from my own school’s curriculum. See Clare’s expertly written blog: for more details.

A tough act to follow but @chrisdyson managed it with his upbeat talk about how he turned around a failing school, which had previously had five headteachers in a year, to become an outstanding school in just three and a half years; all with the power of love. From whole school trips to the beach, to helicopter rides and Christmas grottos and the Real Junk Food Project providing affordable/free food for the community, Chris’ enthusiasm knows no bounds! Listening to him talk really gives you the sense that anything is possible.

There were many other people who selflessly gave up their time to run workshops at this fabulous event: @bryngoodman, @MrHeadComputing, @bbcTeaching, @Mr_P_Hillips, @redgierob, @misterunwin, @jpembroke, @TheHopefulHT, @smithsmm, @primarypercival, @shinpad1, @ASTsupportAAli, @KSunray3, @mrlockyer to name but a few. It’s @Glazgow who wins the prize for getting up the earliest! 3am?! Now that’s dedication!

It seemed like no time had passed when suddenly it was time for the final keynote: a double act from @primaryhead and @Oldprimaryhead1, and what a double act! They had us in stitches from the beginning but their entertaining and engaging ‘performance’ had serious undertones – an exploration of authentic leadership. The enormity of the job of heads was brought home but also that we, as teachers, are all leaders in our own right.

Then it was time to take our goodie bags and leave the amazing setting that was Medlock Primary School. So glad that @MissSMerrill and her fabulous school decided to go ahead with the event at such a difficult time for them.

Any regrets? Yes, one actually. I had hoped to get a selfie with the Pens of Calligra @Lost Pens massive: @AnnisbrownJ, @WatsEd, @f33lthesun, @Elsie2110, @bbcTeaching and @Mr_P_Hillips (@MrEFinch and @MrGPrimary also regularly contribute but were not in attendance) to send to its creator @Parky_teaches who couldn’t attend. If you get a chance check it out! With a new chapter of the adventure unveiled each day (chosen by the players the day before) designed for use with a class, although it’s also fun to do yourself!

So, are Saturday CPD events worth it? Absolutely. This was my first #PrimaryRocksLive and my fourth edu-Twitter Saturday CPD event and I loved every minute. I’m already looking forward to the next one. So far, I’ve been fortunate enough to see (in no particular order) Mary Myatt, Teresa Cremin, Rob Smith, Simon Smith, Clare Sealy, Chris Dyson, Ashley Booth, Ben Connor, Colin Grimes, Tim Head, Bryn Goodman, Mr P ICT, Jen Willis, Jules Pottle, Maz Evans and S.F. Said.

I am yet to see the master of vocabulary: @Mr_P_Hillips so he is definitely next, but who else do I need to see at my next Saturday CPD event? Answers on a postcard – well @, to @LTeacher123 please.




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