On Thursday 22nd May we held the first ever TeachMeet for Teaching Assistants (TAs) here at the School of Education, University of Northampton. Our aim was to use the ethos and structure of a TeachMeet and use it to allow TAs to share ideas, resources and enthusiasm for supporting learning.
We were sponsored by a range of companies and organisations who support learning and teaching including: Toshiba, Ecokids, Twinkl, Thinking Child, SEN Magazine, Crick Software, Teaching Assistant Focus and Springboard Stories. They gave us things to give away, raffle prizes and contributions to refreshments for the event. these all added to the sense of fun and excitement at the event.
At the event we had forty eight people, including teaching assistants and HLTAs from local schools and from further away including a party from Cambridgeshire. We had TAs and HLTAs who are also students on the FDLT course both Years 1 and 2. It was also good to see some of our applicants who will be joining FDLT Y1 in September. We were supported by staff from the School of Education including Julie Jones, Leader of the Education, Childhood and Youth Division and Wendy Yarnall, HLTA Programme Leader. Our FDLT Advocates were also present – April Bosworth, David Tristram and Chris Gilkes, talking to attendees about the course. The event was supported by Emma Stephenson, our Administrator and Stephen Bryant, our IT support who set up and managed a huge amount of IT including the bits I forgot, such as the guest login!
We were lucky enough to attract a range of speakers including:
Sue Dixon, from Thinking Child, who shared ideas around ‘What can we do when children have switched off to literacy?’; Kevin Hewitson from ACE-d introducing strategies to teach multiplication; Junior and Edwina from The Fix Up team who shared ideas about self belief and motivations ‘you are amazing’; Greg Yarnall from Beanstalk Reads telling us about volunteer reading in schools; Joy Judge who sent a Prezi outlining the role and support offered by TA Focus and Dr Estelle Tarry from the School of Education who shared her research about TAs in an international context. I gave a presentation about how TAs can use Twitter to made contacts and share ideas.
As well as this we were well supported by our own FDLT students who took the brave step of volunteering (or saying yes to my invitation) to share their practice at the event. James Underwood, our compere, made the important point that these presenters had come along after a day of being TAs and HLTAs and were immersed in the day to day activity of supporting the learning of individuals and groups of children.
We enjoyed presentations from:
Leonie Cox – Cued Articulation
Joy Davies – Everyone can have fun with geography!
Teresa Foster – QR Codes
Kim Bastin – using digital media and green screen
Louise Fordham – taking children to the Chelsea Flower Show
…and it was great to see a former student of ours, Dawn Parker, who shared a presentation about ‘Smart Through Art’ and the experience of her pupils from a special school taking part in European exchanges based on art.
All the presentations were filmed and clips will be available soon, so if you weren’t able to come along you can view some of the event online. You can also look up the event using #TATMUN to see the tweets from before and during the event. At the end we evaluated using Padlet – a great classroom resource for class participation. We asked two questions – ‘what did you learn?’ and ‘what would you like to do next?’ We got some useful feedback and we’d like to build on the enthusiasm and positive reaction to this event in the future.
Feel free to add any of your comments about the event – we’d love to know your thoughts now you’ve had time to reflect.