TLT13: Jamie Portman

Jamie Portman is kicking off TLT13 at Southampton University with the question, “Why are we here?” It’s impressive to see so many people here so close to the end of term and exciting to catch up with many old friends. Tweets going on the board in the background: one person has called us the “allies of promise”.

He starts by making the point that he is speaking from his personal point of view, and not as a representative of his school. Then he talks about a teacher, Mr B, and his student, Jamie. Mr B, says Jamie, was not a part of the teaching and learning movement in the UK. He wasn’t interested in the students or improving. There are teachers out there today who are the same, and those of us that are here today need to be like teaching and learning disciples, taking the message back to our schools, and to the curmudgeons who don’t recognise that they are a part of the movement too, whether they like it or not.

Sometimes it’s tough to work with people who just aren’t interested, but sometimes the status quo needs to be challenged in schools because it just isn’t good enough for the students that we care so passionately about. Keep sharing good teaching and learning reactive within your schools (Jamie’s has internal teachmeets, for example) because collaboration needs to be at the heart of everything we do; but we need courage too. Jamie cites Shackleton’s advert for the Arctic expedition: “low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness, safe return doubtful” – courage is a key message.

And, an ode to the grafters: the ones on the shop floor: don’t be put off by the politics of education at the moment.

Jamie finishes by talking about his experience of his school burning down. He said that it proved that schools are more than just the buildings. The collegiate approach that exists out there on Twitter helped staff to come up with low energy, high impact strategies for, for example, teaching 60 students at the same time in a youth club. It’s a teaching and learning community without walls.

It’s a call to arms, really. Our current situation as teachers is horrible, but we need to reclaim the headlines: broadcast the message that there is hope.

So, why are we here? We are here to be the best in he world at what we do, and we’ll do that when we go about it in a collegiate manner, challenging ourselves and the status quo.

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