TeachMeet UCD

Monday evening in University College Dublin, and several teachers on a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PDE) are attending a TeachMeet, organised by Chris and John (@johnmayo).

I’m at the back, because I have already presented Project Spark. I’m quickly writing this up because I wanted to capture the usual suspects who attend and present at these events. All worth inviting to your TeachMeet:

  1. Peter Lydon (Gifted Kids)
  2. Mary-Jo Bell (Social Media, Audacity, Classroom Blogging)
  3. Conor Galvin (Using Art in English & lots more)
  4. Pat Seaver
  5. Bianca Ní Ghrógáin
  6. John Heffernan (How to run a TeachMeet)
  7. Laurence Cuffe (InstaGrok and BlendSpace)

There are more, but these are the non-students who are here tonight!

Incentive, Reward & ‘Newly Qualified Teachers’

By refusing to properly compensate and reward ‘Newly Qualified Teachers’ we are pushing them away from the profession and actively damaging the education of a generation of students.

I had the pleasure of visiting an Educate Together School in Dublin recently. I was there to meet to a brilliant young teacher who is collaborating with me on some research and teacher training events.
This teacher is famous amongst Irish teachers, her blog, tutorial videos and innovative classroom methods are often presented and discussed at TeachMeets and conferences. An expert on the flipped classroom, Makey Makey, Scratch and various other tools that might be in the average teacher’s tool-kit in a decade, she has already tried them out.

Project Spark

While I was there, I was invited to pop into a class of 10 year olds to answer a few questions and demo Project Spark. The students were delightful and eager to listen to this strange visitor to the class. As usual the questions ranged from scientific ‘how long does light take to get from the sun to the earth?’ (~8 minutes) to industrial design ‘did you invent the XBox?’ (no). I was never a primary school teacher but I know how to handle bizarre and unrelenting questioning from little ones – my 4 have trained me well.

When it came time to demo Project Spark there were the customary oohs and aahs followed by cries of ‘awesome’, but what struck me was the creativity and imagination these youngsters had in abundance.

Encouraging Creativity

They didn’t develop this overnight, it was instilled by their teacher, the young lady I was there to visit. After the brief class presentation I met the principal and some other staff members, who were obviously proud of the work being done and the research the teacher was embarking on. As she listed the conferences she was attending, the research she wanted to do, the ideas she wanted to try, it occurred to me she was working so much harder for absolutely no guaranteed reward. I won’t get into the injustices of Ireland’s second class teacher system, the ‘Newly Qualified Teacher’, but it has neither the job security or rewards to make it attractive to a graduate.

Vocation

Teaching is a vocation, and although I would like to see reward based on performance, I don’t believe that means student exam performance. Those who believe that the teacher is the significant factor in the passing of an exam have obviously never sat an exam or taught a class. I don’t have a solution for this problem, but looking at this teacher made me humble as I knew of few other teachers doing as much for so little.

Media debate about the teaching profession is generally vicious and bitter, every Internet armchair warrior has a hated teacher in their past that they can kick anonymously. But let’s imagine a system where NQT’s who attend conferences and TeachMeets, who present at them, who try innovative new ideas in the classroom and can demonstrate a passion for teaching are explicitly rewarded, while those who feel bound by a set of insipid ‘learning outcomes’ in some tired old syllabus are encouraged to find their passion again. I don’t want to have teachers fired, I want them all to be as fired up as the teacher I visited.

Stephen

stephenhowell@outlook.com

Coding Grace presents Introduction to Creative Coding with Processing

Please register here: Coding Grace Introduction to Creative Coding with Processing

I’m delighted to be presenting a workshop on Saturday March 15th 2014 to female coders in Dublin who want to get started on ‘creative coding’.

Yes, female coders. No guys allowed. Except as +1s with a female coder. It’s organised by Coding Grace:

Coding Grace is a collective of mainly female techs who provides language agnostic female-friendly coding workshops.

Currently Vicky Twomey-Lee is the main organiser, you can contact us via codinggrace@gmail.com.

Vicky asked if I would deliver a workshop on Processing, and as a long time fan of teaching creative coding (to any gender) I was delighted to agree.

There is a small cover fee (not for me, I’m totally free, but the venue costs a little) and you get an entire day of live coding/project building with someone who has taught, developed & exhibited with Processing for years.

Schedule Outline

10:45 – 11:00 Registration
11:00 – 11:10 Welcome & Introductions
11:10 – 12:00 Lesson 1
12:00 – 12:30 Break
12:30 – 13:30 Lesson 2
13:30 – 14:30 LUNCH
14:30 – 15:55 Lesson 3
15:55 – 16:00 Closing & End of workshop

As you can see, it won’t be too intense, we’ll give you plenty of breaks and the focus will be on learning and having fun with code.

I am used to teaching groups of very different coding abilities (beginner to expert in the one room) so even if you are completely new to coding or an experienced coder, I will try to make this useful for you.

Processing

Processing is the ideal ‘first’ language to learn for creative coders, and you can download and install it from http://www.processing.org

Stephen

Microsoft Ireland Educators Summit 2014

Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft Ireland but I am not part of the team organising this event nor am I presenting at it. I am blogging about it because I think it is a great opportunity for principals and teachers to attend, not because I am required to!

Register here: Microsoft Ireland Educators Summit 2014

If you’re a principal or vice principal (or an ICT teacher who can organise a day away from school) then this event is not to be missed. The blurb says why you should attend, but take a look at the stellar line up and don’t miss this opportunity.

Microsoft Ireland Educators Summit is taking place on Thursday March 20th at Microsoft Ireland. This event will focus on the key issues facing educators in the primary and secondary school sector today.  During the day you will have an opportunity to plan for the future whilst listening to relevant content on topics such as assessments, innovative classroom practices, tools and solutions that can effectively integrate technology with teaching such as mobile learning, visual learning, collaboration platform and more. This is a unique opportunity to hear from Educational Leaders and Microsoft Experts and to see how other Irish schools have developed innovative approaches to overcome their challenges.

Some of the speakers will include a keynote from Minister Ciarán Cannon TD, The Challenge of Assessing Competencies in Schools
from Professor Barry O’Sullivan, Technology in the Classroom – ePortfolio from Rory O’Toole, Creative use of Technology in the Classroom from Alan Mongey, Microsoft Partners in Learning: Classroom tools for teaching & learning and Innovative Practices in the Classroom.

One very exciting talk is the Tablets in the Classroom as this will be presented with students.

Best of all, this event is free and easy to get to:

Microsoft Atrium 3, Carmenhall Road, Sandyford Industrial Estate, Dublin 18, Ireland

Register here: Microsoft Ireland Educators Summit 2014

 

A few cells short of a spreadsheet