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When @drlindagraham asked me to come to Brisbane earlier this year to speak at the QUT National Summit on student engagement, learning and behaviour I thought yes why not. It would be a great mini break for the family and we could visit some friends in Brisbane, combining a holiday with a little learning was my aim. Then life got in the way and I nearly didn’t make it. Deciding fairly late in the day that I couldn’t let Linda down, I flew up from Sydney just for the day. I have to admit I did this a little reluctantly as it involved numerous taxi rides, not to mention two flights in one day as well as a very early start.

Now it is the evening and I am waiting for my flight home, after what can only be described as an amazing day. I listened to great presentations. I gave my own presentation about the value of TeachMeets to a receptive audience. I reconnected with several teachers I know from Twitter and enjoyed chatting with them and others. I have come away feeling re-energised and invigorated as a teacher, ready for the start of another busy semester.

The benefit of a summit as opposed to a conference was clear from the start. Listen and engage with the current speaker or leave. No deciding which stream to follow, which workshop to attend or which speaker to listen to. That in its self was relaxing. There was only one Twitter stream to follow for starters! And what great speakers they were. The two that I found the most interesting and informative were the following.

Professor Andrew Martin from Sydney University spoke about his research supporting the use of Personal Best goal setting. He showed how students who develop personal best goals show engagement, learning and growth. He spoke about the importance of resilience, a growth mindset and how children who can deal with change and adaptability have been shown to be more able to cope with life’s problems. His talk was a reaffirming reminder of the work we are doing at my school in ‘next steps’ learning, developing growth mindsets and the setting of SMART goals. I am looking forward to exploring his website further.

The 4:00 ‘death’ slot was given to Dave Burgess of ‘Teach like a Pirate’ fame. And boy did he live up to his reputation. Enlivening and inspiring the audience with his classroom management strategies and ideas for invigorating lessons. I cannot possibly do justice to his energy, wit and enthusiasm. He did however leave us all with food for thought.

  • If your students didn’t have to be in your class would you be teaching to an empty room?
  • Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets to?
  • There is so much competition for our students engagement right now we can’t just be good teachers we need to be remarkable teachers.

And above all the idea that its okay to fail in the pursuit of excellent teaching. What is not okay is to be mediocre and play it safe. Lessons like his don’t always work. He spoke of his seventeen years of hard work, of  failing and starting again, of fine tuning and lesson adjustments. He said it isn’t easy and nor should it be but with effort and a determined passion for achieving the best for his students he knows he is making a difference to their lives.

I bought his book ‘Teach like a Pirateincrease student engagement, boost creativity, and transform your life as an educator and I am already half way through it. As a easy but interesting read I can throughly recommend it.

So thank you Linda for insisting I come to Brisbane for what turned out to be a holiday highlight.


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1 comment

  1. Anna Lynch

    Hi Henrietta,
    I enjoyed reading your reflections from the key presenters. I found the engagement summit interesting, inspirational and motivating. I enjoyed connecting to everyone through Twitter and look forward to continuing my journey in becoming a creative educator and making my lessons an interesting learning experience for my students.