A big part of the reasons that I have taken to attending ResearchEd events is the way it makes me feel on the day and after, especially when ‘topped up’ with twitter. I am an old teacher, one of the oldest at my school (which means mid-fifties these days); the pupils fill my day with interest and “challenge” but I rarely get to take part in intellectual discourse that has me hyper focused trying to follow arguments and search for weakness and omission. Thinking makes me feel fresher, exercised, stimulated and will last for weeks as I ponder points afresh.
It felt a little less slickly glib this year, the free clutter less ‘wow’, the Master MC less involved in the introduction with his perfect synergy of comedy, accent and smooth (night-club) host. It didn’t matter. We could get straight to the meat and begin the yo-yo march on the stairs of the ‘building of many levels’. As always Old Andrew (who isn’t) fired me into the orbit of philosophy when I expected something else, had my brain burning and my belly bouncing with laughter. My mind re-awoke the importance of precision when thinking critically about ideas including research; it marvelled at the cleverness that filled the room. I like trying to keep up with smart people.
A quick rush and another packed session (they all were) to take part in applying the re-awakened deep thought to a piece of research on the effect of Academy Chains on disadvantaged pupils. The Q and A of the authors let us in to the nuance of the findings and the process of the research. Fascination, a window in to the ‘state of the art’, speculation of causation, my brain is burning the calories in waves of charge.
A model coaching system was explained next, exquisitely designed, rigorously thought through with the subtle balance of objective and subjective evidence, of compulsion and encouragement all being explained by a master unfazed by a Leading Authority of effectiveness measurement in the audience. I wanted to be a part of it, I wanted to feel this support and development at my school. Bittersweet, I realised it was unlikely in our circumstance or at my age.
A walk outside for lunch, mind whirling but younger legs perhaps dimly feeling echoes of their student days. A physical circuit to make a mental map to help settle my thoughts.
After lunch, two more of the same sort of session but a little frustration of more predictability and admitted weakness in the evidence. Frustration, fast thinking, appreciation of the intellect of the presenters.
A break, then a marathon session in a hot stuffy sports hall. Two masters of the art of speaking on Ed research demonstrate their art. A pang of regret, a missed opportunity for something new? And yet they still enthuse, stimulate and make me chuckle. I am tired now, fuzzy-minded and need a snooze!
Later, some short conversations with stars of the twitterati add more variety and interest. I AM a learning enthusiast. The up-for-it feeling battered to bits by my routine new-year “INSET” is back! ResearchEd charges my batteries, opens my mind, feeds my teaching soul and expands my knowledge. It makes me FEEL younger, smarter, less jaded, less cynical. I WILL do better this year.
Thank you to all who made this possible, you know who you are, you were there, you made it happen. Thanks.