How does it feel to be a learner?

Today I went to a conference with two keynote speakers, one, very well known I had heard of, the other I hadn’t.

The well known speaker wasn’t able to arrive for the 9:00am start as they were coming by train so the speakers were swapped round. I listened to a speaker who seemed interested and was interesting. He said to shout out any questions as we went through – he was used to teaching and a quiet class worried him. The second speaker asked someone who asked a question to ask at the end, it wasn’t me (for a change) but it did mean that the slide that said “Response to TTYP” is still a mystery to me as neither I nor anyone else on the table knew what TTYP was.

The first speaker gave practical examples of things we could look for in children with difficulties, how having a dyslexic label doesn’t change anything but teaching children with poor working/ auditory sequential/ visual sequential memories as if they have dyslexia may well do. He spoke about making lessons “memory-lite” would help – and suggested ways to do it. He talked about a fictional pupil with amazing reasoning abilities but poor memory and reading abilities – which table would she be on in our classrooms? Why? He made us question our practice – but in a good way.

The second speaker talked about when she met Michael Morpurgo on a radio show, how she had changed his mind on some ideas. She laughed as she asked was she name dropping? She was, I wasn’t impressed, my Y3s a few years ago wrote to him and got a reply! She made some bold statements but gave no opportunity for them to be challenged – and I wanted to challenge them. I disagreed, I would have been able to back up why I disagreed, but it wasn’t appropriate to comment. She was passionate about what she does, that was very clear but although I normally like listening to people who are passionate I didn’t enjoy listening to her. I felt as though I only had to listen and admire, I can’t actually tell you much detail about what she said. It was about developing a love of reading and how we should do it, it was about the National Curriculum and how she wanted it all on one page. It didn’t feel as if it was about the children.

In the afternoon we could attend workshops. I went to one by the first speaker – I came away wanting to get back to school, to look at the suggested resources to laugh with colleagues on how we had been taught to use a differentiation technique by being learners. We were taught in mixed ability groups learning about global warming, I haven’t written a Haiku in a long while but we managed to work together to write one on what we now understood about the subject!

It made me think – how do our children feel when they have sat in one of our lessons? I hope that they feel enthused rather than having an enthusiastic teacher directing them what to think, not allowing discussion or questions. I hope that they have teachers who understand their difficulties but still recognise their strengths and teach in a way that enables them to not only read and love books but to have enjoyed acquiring this skill.

How does it feel to be a learner?

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