In August 2016 I relocated to teach History in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi. This was obviously a very exciting opportunity both personally and professionally. In the UK I was very fortunate to attend a number of superb CPD events. I wasn’t sure what opportunities for CPD would be available in the UAE. I wasn’t disappointed, as I have continued to attend and present at educational events both in the UK and the UAE. I decided to reflect, share and blog, providing an overview of my year with events I have attended and events I will be attending in the near future.
On reflection through writing this blog, it has made me realise how important these CPD events are to me and the value of engaging in my own CPD. I have also realised that I do get involved with a lot of CPD events, on top of my day to day duties as a teacher which of course always take priority.
I often attend and present at TeachMeet events. For anyone unfamiliar with the term TeachMeet it basically refers to a gathering of teachers sharing ideas, resources, research and experiences with other teachers. Due to budgets and restrictions these events often take place outside of school hours; evenings or weekends and are have a grass roots origin. You can find out about all the upcoming TeachMeet events in the UK on this webpage here. In the UAE these events are often referred to as SPARK events, SPARK was set up by two teachers who were based in the UAE Mark Wood and Lee Garrett, and SPARKs have the same purpose and goal of a TeachMeet – to share teaching and learning, with events take place across the MENA region.
TeachMeet – Upton
For the last two years I have attended various TeachMeets in the Chester area near where I lived prior to my move. These events are always organised by Tony Pickford, who I have now met on many occasions. By attending these events I met a lot of teachers in the local area who taught at different schools and the atmosphere was always very positive and friendly. Tony asked me to present at TMUpton in October, but as I was in Abu Dhabi it was not possible. I did however create a presentation that was shared via video link, that you can watch below. Teachers tweeted me their feedback (although it was not live due to the four hour time difference!) and I was really happy that I could still be involved. I only wish I was able to watch the other presentations, as it wasn’t streamed to watch online. As much as I enjoy presenting, and it is very good professional development for me, I do benefit so much from other presentations. There will be presentations that aren’t relevant to my subject but I can feedback ideas to other teachers in my school in those departments. There are always golden nuggets I can take away from every event!
JESS Digital Innovation Summit – Dubai
The JESS Digital Innovation Summit took place in October and was the first event I attended in the UAE and also the first of its kind in Dubai too! When I decided to apply for jobs in the UAE I connected with many teachers from JESS (Jumeirah English Speaking School) both on Twitter and LinkedIn. Many of the teachers at JESS are leading the ways in terms of digital innovation such as Steve Bambury, Luke Rees and Ronan McNicholl. Head Teacher Mark Stead also takes a great interest in digital innovation and it is no surprise that JESS is one of the leading schools in the UAE.
This event was one of the best CPD events I have ever attended. I learnt so much and throughly enjoyed the whole day. It took place on a Saturday and began with Mark Anderson aka ICTEvangelist as the keynote speaker – inspiring, informative and innovative! Other sessions I attended included a social media e-safety session with another edtech expert Simon Noakes. I also gained insight as to how 1:1 devices are being used at JESS with a fantastic presentation by Primary teacher Thomas Edge.
My session was entitled ‘Love to teach…with my iPad’. I was concerned at first about my presentation because I don’t consider myself to be a “techie” as I don’t teach about coding or Raspberry Pi! However, the day clearly focused on education and putting education first and using technology to aid teaching and learning – not replace or distract. I shared some of my favourite apps with examples how I have created resources for my classes. The feedback was very positive with many teachers contacting me after the event after using apps I had suggested or had adapted my original ideas. This event will take place again in October 2017 with Joe Moretti as keynote, if you are in the region then I highly recommend this event!
SPARK – Al Ain
I attended my very first Spark event in January and I was not disappointed. Very similar to the UK format with short yet useful presentations by teachers from across the Al Ain area. The event took place at Liwa International School in Al Ain. Presentations varied from AfL, pupil led learning, Google classroom and more! Several of my colleagues presented – they were all amazing! It was the first time for me to see some of my colleagues share ideas and do so with such confidence and passion! The Spark was also a competition, unlike the UK, and although the event wasn’t about the competition I was delighted to win first prize for my presentation focusing on creativity in the classroom and promoting a love of learning, again sharing and explaining some of my tried and tested ideas.
I am very excited for the next Spark event taking place in Al Ain on April 12th at Manor Hall International School, although I cannot stay for the whole event as I fly to Berlin that night on our Sixth Form History trip!
EOS Conference – Doncaster
I have literally just arrived at the hotel/venue as I post this blog! I haven’t attended an EOS conference before, but I followed the hashtag online last year – with a Teach like a pirate theme! I’m not presenting at this event so no pressure, I can relax watching the various Keynote speakers and attend a wide range of interesting workshops. There is a fancy dress theme linked to Space but I have opted out of that! If you are on Twitter you can follow all of the action of the day by searching #EosEd2017.
TMHistoryIcons – Chester
TMHistoryIcons is an event that I am once again co – organising, hosting and presenting at! It is purely aimed at Secondary teachers of History. It is a free event that is funded by very generous sponsors! The idea was originally by my good friend Tom Rogers with the key focus being bringing the History teaching community together. This event is taking place in the beautiful and historical city of Chester on Saturday April 1st (this is my spring break so I am returning to the UK for this event). I have blogged about this event in more detail here. However, I have struggled planning this event this year more so than the year before. Promoting online via social media has not been an issue but Skyping sessions with the team has proven difficult with the time difference and also taking on a new job has been my priority. I have made the decision to take a step down as organiser and host next year. Perhaps I will still present via video link or recording but I am planning a holiday to the Seychelles so maybe not! It will no doubt be another great and enjoyable event just like last year with a room full of eager History teachers networking and sharing!
BETT Middle East – Abu Dhabi
BETT Middle East will be taking place in Abu Dhabi at the end of April. I am well aware of the BETT show in the UK but I have been unable to attend in previous years due to my teaching commitments so I am delighted to be able to attend this event! BETT Middle East is a conference focusing on leadership and technology within education with educators from across the MENA region and further afield attending. I was contacted by the content producer for BETT Middle East and asked to speak on a panel discussing the link between social media and education. This is a topic I am very interested in as social media has helped me progress as a teacher and recognise the potential within education and for CPD purposes. I will be sharing my views on this topic in a panel discussion. This is my first time on a panel so I will blog and feedback at a later date! In the evening I am very fortunate to be attending the BETT gala and awards ceremony which is sure to be a great night! I will also be writing about the two day conference for Education Journal Middle East too.
Moving On Education – Exeter
This is another event that I am assisting and supporting. Mark Anderson and Gary King have worked together numerous times, in particular with TMDevon. They are the main organisers of this event taking place on the 23rd June and have managed to use their contacts to host a very impressive line up of keynote speakers and guest speakers delivering workshops. More information about this event can be found on the website here. I will be delivering a teaching and learning workshop ad the keynote speakers include Steve Wheeler and Mary Myatt.
Telegraph Education Festival – Berkshire
I attended this prestigious and well known event last year. The star line up included celebrity speakers such as Rory Bremner, Piers Morgan, Will Young, Sir Clive Woodward and Germain Greer all discussing education! The line up of educators was also very impressive ad diverse. This annual event takes places at the stunning Wellington College and led by Head of Learning and Research Carl Hendrick and a team of staff and pupils from Wellington College.
I am delighted that I can go to this event again this year! It was a very memorable event for me. I bought many books that day and met many authors of books I had read too! I will not long have landed in the UK, as my College will be finished for the academic year, and I will make my way to this fabulous Ed fest!
TMPicnic – London
TMPicnic sounds like a very simple yet lovely event. No gimmicks, no freebies or even technology! It will simply be a group of teachers having a picnic and networking, learning and sharing. I have a short slot where I will stand up and talk about the teaching and learning newsletter I have introduced at my college. Then we will eat strawberries and hope the sun is shining! You can book tickets to attend this event at West Ham Park, Upton Lane London on 8th July 11.00 – 17.00 on the website here.
I realise sharing my CPD calendar could suggest I don’t have a healthy work/life balance! However, this is over the course of an academic year and I have had many holidays this year including Jordan and upcoming trips to Oman and Greece where I will switch off and relax! I must add the CPD events I have attended above are of course all by choice. I always find these events valuable, insightful, educational and enjoyable. I am becoming more confident as a presenter. I am gaining new ideas and inspiration for my lessons. I am keeping up to date with different research. CPD events and social media makes it easier for me to stay connected to the UK and changes to the British curriculum/educational structure/research etc. I have been very fortunate to network and meet so many amazing educators and continue to stay connected, as a result of social media. However, next academic year I won’t be returning to the UK as often so will focus more on CPD events in the Gulf region. I am looking forward to another busy but brilliant year!
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. If you are interested in finding out more about any of the events above you can click on the hyperlinks provided or ask for further information. If you would like to share and let me know about other upcoming educational events in the UK or UAE then please do get in touch. You can contact me via my contact page on my blog or message me on Twitter.