Friday, July 29, 2011

I Love Teaching Conference, July 2011

Over the first two days of our end of Term 2 break our whole teaching staff attended the I love teaching 2011 conference at the Ascot Hotel, Invercargill, New Zealand.  Usually we have to travel quite a distance (ie the North Island!) for any professional learning of this quality so it is a real credit to the Conference Convenor, (Marlene Campbell) and the committee (Kerry Hawkins, Alison Cook, Peter Forde, Allan Mitchell) that we have an opportunity of this calibre on our doorstep every two years!

There was a wide range of very high calibre speakers but right now I want to share just a few of my 'lightbulb' moments!

I really enjoyed James' presentation - both his keynote and his workshop.  One key point was:

Getting the balance right throughout the school day on introducing / discussing concepts that push the student into the pit or conflict or wobble zone (where new learning and understanding is constructed / takes place) and yet gives enough scaffolding so the learner gets the chance to reach that Eureka! moment.

An important part of this process is the use of effort centered praise for what a student is doing - not praise telling them how smart they are or what a good score they got!

As this image shows the problems solved on the third test after different types of praise was given shows the effect on the students results!

I believe the challenge for our school from this is that we have to carefully consider the balance that the structure of our day to day curriculum across our learning environments is giving to the process of Concept, Conflict/Wobble, Construct, Eureka!  Getting this right within a schools curriculum framework is a bit like walking a tightrope as we try to balance different teachers passions with learners needs and community wishes.  A good inquiry scaffold that is articulated and understood across our school gives our foundation learning areas an enriching concept on which our learners can 'hang their understanding on' along with the chance to 'wobble' before reaching that 'Construct' and 'Eureka!' moment.

 Wilson McCaskill

An inspiring and highly engaging speaker who is extremely passionate about helping all teachers and learners to chance to change the student, teacher relationship from one based on control and compliance to one based on guidance and self-determination.  In his keynote and workshops Wilson worked on introducing and demonstrating with us the words and strategies that empower students to manage their own behaviour, improve their emotional intelligence and increase their chances of success in life.  Perhaps the best way to appreciate this initiative is to watch an example of this learning in action!

As a school the potential for this to further enhance the positive culture of our school is huge and I look forward to discussing with staff where to next with this powerful initiative!

Allie Mooney is someone who you will always learn something from.  She gives you a reminder about knowing who you are, what you see your strengths as and what you need to understand about appreciating and understanding others!  

Our school is richer for the diversity we have around our staff team and it is something that I think is very important for everyone that we appreciate and value all types.  There is great strength in diversity and as staff changes happen in the life of the school I believe it is important to keep that balance right!


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your reflection Tim. I too had many lightbulb moments at the conference. Indeed, it is a very real accomplishment by the committee to facilitate such an amazing conference. My highlight was definitely James Nottingham and I am currently working through his resources and looking at how to challenge my learners! I have also dusted off the resources I bought from Wilson two years ago and am fired up about their potential. I am heading off to Wellington next week on the next leg of my Twitter Tour and I am taking 'Pressing the right buttons' as my read. It truly was a great conference. It was also great to meet fellow tweets in Invercargill and I hope to see some of you at on August the 27th to continue some of the great conversations around challenge, the pit, games and pressing the right buttons!
    Anne Kenneally

  2. sounds like it went well and with Kerry on the microphone its always entertaining. interesting to see your reflections above. the pit thing ive seen with john edwards and the colour thing with hermann brain - interesting that we have the same stuff with different people. I suppose no-one ever really invented this stuff its how its explained and dissected and explained.
    I'm glad the energy switch has been flicked on. i should reverse the PD shuffle and head south for a change, must try harder (me that is). cheers for the reflection I enjoyed it