I think it’s important to record my observations about this, however as with the Glow pilot, there is a need to be positive, and criticisms can seem to undermine this. Still, Don has recently blogged about the importance of honesty, and Ewan has commented, so that’s what’s underpinning my comments here.
For a start, I noticed a change in my note-taking habits. Firstly, I was itching to have my laptop to use. Secondly, instead of writing down what the speakers were saying, I found I was noting my own questions, comments and observations on what I was hearing. Hmmm, reflection on the hoof as it were.
Things I enjoyed, and my observations
· the bus journey into Edinburgh, chatting with Annie: we are whole people with lives, challenges and sources of satisfaction beyond our jobs
· catching up with other ChTs: one of the riches of ChTs as a group is the diversity of our interests and backgrounds
· Walter Humes’ witty and entertaining introduction: it’s very important to set a positive and relaxed atmosphere for something like this, but it can be hard for a speaker following an outstanding sparkler like Walter.
· hearing Matt MacIver’s voice, partly because of his accent, but partly because of the heartfelt passion he brings to what he is saying: we have at last progressed as a culture enough for a man to be able to express intensity of emotion in a large, very academically powerful environment.
· Peter Gronn’s final 10 minutes where he became more political and produced food for thought: like Tristan and Isolde – the final 30 minutes are mind-blowing, but the previous 4 and a half hours are torture!
· the afternoon workshop I went to where Fiona MacLennan talked with enthusiasm and commitment about her Action Research on Enterprising Teachers which she’s carried out for the final part of her ChT journey with Stirling: there is a big difference between ChTs who’ve gone by the APEL route and those who’ve done the university modular one
· that at this session questions and discussion were welcomed: interaction is important to what I get out of a session like this; but did I speak too much?
· the opportunity to meet up with friends and acquaintances and engage in professional discourse: there are not enough opportunities for this within a school setting- sometimes it seems to set those of us who like to do this apart from the rest
· talking to someone who has reservations about Feuerstein: it’s not “safe” to criticise this in SBC at the moment so it was good to discover a ChT who had undergone some Feuerstein training and had concerns
Things I was less positive about:
· Peter Gronn’s requirement of his audience that they do the work of maintaining attention to what he was saying: I am like the children – I need a bit of light relief at some points during an hour’s listening
· the location of the first workshop, the Great Hall – theatrical and impressive architecture but acoustically a disaster: it’s very important to be able to hear speakers easily
· the over-confidence and self-importance of the presenters of the first workshop: it pains me to say it, but they did display this, and without good cause. We Scots are only just becoming comfortable with hearing people expressing pride in their achievements, and are maybe still finding ways of expressing our pride that don’t sound like pure self-congratulation.
· the acoustic arrangements at the final session – there were microphones in all the aisles and at the sides – why weren’t they used? Why didn’t Jenny Reeves use one of the plentiful supply at the front?: it’s really frustrating not to be able to hear exchanges at the other side of the hall.
· the mis-match between what I assumed were the aims of the final session and the potential for achieving them in that context – a lecture hall set-up is hardly the place from which to elicit real interactive discussion about anything far less such basic subjects as “where are we going with this now?”: this reminded me how much I hate superficiality, and this seemed like paying lip-service to consultation. We weren’t told what would happen to the findings from our evaluation forms.
· Why aren’t LTS involved in ChT stuff at all?
· I would have liked a list of people attending, their ChT status and where they were from. For example, I saw a journalist there. I think we should have been told this.
· I would have liked the descriptions of the workshops sessions to have included a note of whether they had primary/secondary/other focus.
· Peter Gronn referred to 3 bits of recent research on ChTs. I think these should aleady have been pointed out to us as ChTs, maybe through Blackboard, maybe through the post, maybe through the SEJ, maybe through the Chartered Teacher magazine that seems to have fallen by the wayside.
· I would have liked a dynamic and inspiring keynote speaker, who was aware of the level at which the majority of his audience approached the subject.
· I would have liked far more opportunity for exchange and discussion. Maybe have presentations in the morning but in the afternoon, set up 40- minute sessions with a focus, add an interested chairperson and no more than 12 people, invite a couple of people to give a 5-minute personal perspective and then throw it open. Less stressful for presenters and far more collaborative and interactive.