July 2018 David and I made a commitment. Understanding the inherent challenges of our profession*… you are no doubt familiar with the list, we agreed to convene an “event” that would hopefully bring together and amplify the positive voices in education across sectors. Not to drown out the very obvious professional concerns, just to counter them. A modest event, where hardworking, determined and enthused teachers, told their stories (that’s David’s influence). Hence, most of my free time was dedicated to making the event a success at the expense of this blog.
When we look back at our notes and actions, this is what I have learnt.
We tried to be open minded, however our own personal ideologies influenced the event. I asked for representation from #Womened and a space for Special Education. I have always felt that the work of my colleagues from the SEND sector are undervalued. #Srocks18 gave me the opportunity to invite two educationalist that I admire. Both Jarleth O’Brien and Simon Knight agreed to speak (though I knew, these gentlemen no longer spend most of their working week in the classroom, their expertise more than made up for it.) 2019 we hope they may come back or recommend some hard working, SEND teachers and SENDCOs. David wanted a space for BAME teachers, supporting the @BAMEedNetwork and to support teachers stepping up to speak at the their first event. We wanted to be inclusive. Lastly, we wanted to make sure that those teachers that shared their expertise, really felt appreciated, so mission “the best green room ever,” was initiated. Along with a teacher pre-event meal and an invite to OneSchool’s National Conference in Birmingham.
We made a personal commitment to these values. Both male and female keynotes, representative BAME speakers and what has become known as encouraging “emerging voices.” 30% of every #srocks event will be open to first time speakers as 2018 achieved. Oh and good coffee. Ice-cream in february was just a fun idea, rather than a principled value but I can see an without Dylan’s.
I wrestled with the irresponsibility of hosting an event on a Saturday. I even wrote about it though I conceded it was the only way we could bring teachers from across the sectors together. Consuming teachers discretionary-time galvanised our determination to put on the very best event we could. What happened thereafter is simple. David and I called in all the favours we had and before we knew it we had three strong keynotes and over thirty offers to lead sessions. We now had an event to promote, and promote it we did. We tried very hard to get out of the social media echo chamber, but we didn’t have any clout.
Putting #Srocks18 together
EventBrite, Twitter and LinkedIn (via Buffer) Adobe Spark – our tools of choice.
Our hook, ice-cream in February and Discover the World put up a teachers visit to Iceland. DTW were the first businesses to get behind us and we will not forget that.
Dylan’s ice-cream where really friendly and accommodating. Making our own attendees voted favourite flavours and serving throughout the day.
All the artwork was created in Adobe Spark post and by December, making new items, became a regular father-daughter activity.
Mapping was created via Google Maps.
As the event gathered interest, so we received more and more support. People we had never met before offered to roll their selves up and retweet and support the event (Anoara Mughal, Mike Watson, Michelle Fawkes and more.)
The support of the sponsors has been exceptional. As I noted, Discover the World were the first to step up and offer their support. The team at Calls9 have been sincere and generous, we plan to meet up with the team in Leeds for Northern Rocks 2018. The now award winning Literacy Planet generously sponsored the Dylan’s ice-cream and Alex Sharratt from John Catt Education was a fantastic advocate for the event. Sam and EverythingBranded stepped up when we needed them. To every author that signed and sent in a book, every one went to a thankful teacher (except for yours Jarleth, it will once I’ve read it.) The Rapid Relief Team put on an amazing lunch, there is no way we could have done that without them. The reality is – we made a small loss.
Leanne at the Devil’s Punchbowl for hosting a wonderful speakers dinner.
Tim Browning for lifting our expectations for the event – “china cups, not paper cups.”
Thank you to the DfE for seeking the input of hard working teachers and to Teach Primary and Teach Secondary for covering the event. I’m looking forward to their post.
The feedback – the letters, the comments about our school, staff and students. Thank you.
Perhaps my personal favourite,given our commitment to teachers, was this comment from Doug Wise.
Pitfalls to avoid
Only offer single tickets. – We offered 1 and 2 ticket options and this caused all sorts of issues later on, printing name badges (for names we didn’t have), refunds, access to the website. Add postcode to the sign up form.
The event information and planner will be available via an open website or Adobe Page next year.
Have a deeper reserve speaker list. We had 10%, we needed 30%. What was most challenging, was sticking to our BAME commitment and finding BAME replacements. Also, we lost speakers from Primary and couldn’t find replacements with just hours notice.
No refunds. Tickets were just £10 and that included breakfast and lunch. Refunds were time consuming.
We had planned for 10% no shows. Despite having a refund policy, £10 was easily foregone and 10% didnt show up on the day. This was rather frustrating as at one point we had 30 names on the waiting list.
Delegate bags take much longer than you think to fill and put out.
Was it worth it?
#srocks18 rocked because it gave me strategies I could walk into school on Monday with and use immediately @KristianStill @davidErogers
@Belleville_TS Teacher Recruitment Fair & #srocks18 today. Looking forward to meeting lots of new teachers interested in working at one of our six schools & exploring Teaching, Thinking, Learning &…
We’re off… thank you to everyone who made #srocks18 toddler-friendly! Amazing staff and students who helped looked after T – what a fantastic day – thank you davidErogers and @KristianStill
Great to visit the Focus School (Hindhead Campus) today. Would love to find out more about your concept of self-directed learning. #srocks18 @KristianStill
@theed_ucator: Such a terrific session on ‘Questioning’ at #srocks18 from @taylor_teacher 💡 Check out the resources- lots of inspiration…
@KristianStill @inquirymaths Very much enjoyed the @inquirymathssession at #srocks18 and look forward to catching up at the national conference
#srocks18 @EmmaDwyerES what a fab day! Brilliant venue and hospitality from students. Learned lots- thank you
@jeeveswilliams You have made my day and year! Thank you. This tops #srocks18
Working with Freya (my daughter) in the evenings, giving away signed books to teachers was a real privilege, Friday’s evenings speaker meal, hearing the laughter and conversation between staff was a tremendous highlight. Smiling as it snowed, yes it snowed first thing Saturday morning. Seeing Mel and Sally (Hindhead Campus AHTs) in fits of laughter, crouching by Dylans cow trying to take a selfie, listening to David tell an audience of professionals that teachers “change the world,”seeing our students getting hands on, the amazing green room… reviewing the media footage, reading the emails, seeing the endorsements on social media.Yes, I’d say it was worth it.
*retention, recruitment, workload balance, inexorable curriculum revision