#PrimaryRocksLive – a review

Yesterday, I went to the second PrimaryRocksLive event, held at Medlock Primary School in Manchester. Over 200 primary educators came together for a day of workshops, networking and fun.

I just got there in time, sitting down just as @gazneedle opened the day, with knob gags and innuendo, but also with massive thank yous to the PrimaryRocks team, and to all the people who came along yesterday and joined him for a chat on a Monday night. Gaz spoke about the thousands of little things we all do for our children, and how we make a difference. The buzz and positivity on that room was a reflection of that message.

The first keynote was Paul Dix who spoke about behaviour, and about teachers finding the behaviour they wish to see. He presented each and every person with a wristband saying “over and above” – with the message of praising behaviour that is over and above the normal, because the normal should be an expectation. He talked about not naming and faming negative behaviour. He was a brilliant speaker, lively, passionate and funny – everything that #PrimaryRocks is all about.

Next came the first workshop. I headed to Tim Roach’s (@MrTRoach) workshop on writing.  Tim is a brilliant Year 6 teacher in the same authority as me,  with a real passion for writing, and for the works of Stephen King. He used Stephen King as a prism to look at children’s writing and how we can develop writing within our classes.  It was a talk that I got loads from, and will be putting into practice.

Lunch came next, followed by free ice cream. This is just such a great touch, and brought even bigger smiles to people’s faces. Next came Stan Cullimore- formerly of the Housemartins and now a children’s author. He entertained us all with songs and a gentle teasing Q+A. I’d love to have him visit my class!

For my second workshop, I went to see Tim Taylor (@imagineinquiry) talk about Mantle of the Expert. I’ve read Tim’s book (which is excellent) but actually to work through session with him was amazing. It felt like magic being woven over us as we all stepped into the imaginary scenario of discovering an Egyptian tomb. I am so excited to try this approach with my class – it was clear to see how it would support amazing pieces of writing on loads of topics. 

My final workshop was Bryn Llewelyn’s (@brynll) talk on Active Learning.  I went along to this one as it is about to become a focus at my school (my TA is also our sports development staff member so we had already been trialling things in school). His simple ideas for times tables and basic number facts were amazing, and the Tagtiv8 things look like a really powerful resource.

The final keynote of the day was Michael Tidd. He talked about marking policies as a retention tool. He made some excellent points, and was very funny about it all too. This was a talk I wish members of my SLT had been party to, in fact, I wished my whole staff could have heard it.  The main thing that I keep thinking about is “of marking was banned, what would you do, secretly? Do that then.” If I think about that, maybe most marking policies are just wrong.  I also liked, “Sometimes you don’t need 30 comments. Sometimes just one will do: This is all shit.  Granted, if it’s shit, that’s my fault, but still…”  It’s an excellent point. 

The thing I loved about PrimaryRocksLive this year was meeting so many people (the least said about last year when I panicked and hid at the back the better) and the general atmosphere of positivity and humour about it all. We were all together, on a Saturday, and it felt good. Nobody was negative, everybody was simply loving the atmosphere.

I wrote something down while Paul Dix was speaking in the morning. To me it sums up what PrimaryRocks is about:

“Unite, and we’re unstoppable.”