What a fun, enthusiastic and exciting week I’ve just had…
At an inter-authority leadership conference held in Argyll and Bute, colleagues from Bearsden Academy reminded me that it was more than okay to aspire to, do what I’d always set out to do, ensure that learning is fun. In fact, it is the word that takes precedence in their aims, vision and values. They and were recently rewarded with an excellent from HMIE for their improvement through self-evaluation.
In my first year of teaching the message I gave my young learners was that teaching and learning should be fun. Nine years on I am still having fun, further inspired as I watch those young learners, I first shared that belief with, embarking on their exciting chosen destinations.
Bearsden Academy leadership staff are committed to working together to be all they can be. It shone in their faces, in their passion for their learning and teaching so much so that they could have employed many new members of staff that day because don’t we all want our lives, including our working lives to be fun? Yes, we want it to be enriching; yes we want to make a difference to learners and we all want them and ourselves to be valued but what about the notion that by having fun with our teaching and learning it can be the driver that makes the difference to everyone. The first powerful quote that touched a chord was ‘leave the negative thinkers behind!’ Yes, please! How much more fun would life be then? If everyone was positive, solution based and forward thinking in their desires whilst remaining respectful of others positive ambitions and aims then the skies the limit.
Fun is an intriguing word. Often the first thought is the belief that fun means being light hearted and something to be engaged in when the hard work is over. Is it a word that is considered deep and meaningful enough, when we are aiming for excellence for our learners within Scottish education?
I think so… Of course it is! if I remain true to my beliefs that education is predominantly about nurturing our young to become all they can be then of course ‘fun’ is an enormous gift, an invaluable skill to continue to model and share with all learners. Ensuring that learning is enjoyable, exciting and pleasurable will surely enhance engagement and thus attainment and achievement. In order to love doing something it has to be fun.
Following the inspirational collegiate working opportunity at Sandbank Primary, Dunoon, on that pleasure filled Saturday, I gathered further evidence that I needed to inform and reinforce my refreshed approach. After all obstacles are only what get in your way when you take your eyes off the goal…
Day one I started tweeting and collaborating with other positive thinkers. Guess what?
It was fun!
I then went into school modelling fun, which is easy when you love your work place already. However I still made sure that I had the biggest smile on my face and perfected the best spring in my step, before gathering and recording the evidence I needed from my pupils by asking ‘What makes learning fun?’ Soon Sticky post-its galore were filled… ‘Being able to interact, do things themselves, get messy, make choices about how they learn, be listened to and solve challenges’ were the driving desires.
I was extremely fortunate as our week of fun was soon to kick off with a pre-planned ‘Fizz Bang Boom’ chemistry workshop from Generation Science for Edinburgh science festival week. The challenge was to make a chemical reaction that was colourful and fizzing. The pupils interacted, they made a mess, they were listened to and they were entertained to learn and, my goodness, did they learn. The evidence was in their questions and answers and their enthusiasm. The evidence was in the Lego models they chose to make and annotate after showing their creative, evaluating and analytical skills. It was in the paintings, the comic strips, the posters. It was in the variety of mediums that they chose to share their learning through.
Exciting stuff… But the best part for me was when the pupils took ownership of that learning and took it home showing the ability to transfer their knowledge, understanding and skills and engage totally when the learning was enjoyable. A variety of evidence for the breadth and depth of their learning came into school the next day.
I myself tweeted further and had fun sharing the learning and watching as it reached across from our small island school and out into a wider community, locally, nationally and internationally. I gave the pupils a choice… to experiment at home or not and to my delight the majority chose to be the scientific enquirers I knew they could be! I had to try really hard not to jump up and down with the sheer joy the next day when pupils brought in a variety of learning evidence to share: An I-movie of lit match sticks and coin trick (pupil and parent collaboration); a home baked blue crispy cake came in complete with photographs of the creation. Stories of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar filled the classroom as well as messy kitchens. Best of all was the home made honeycomb bought in to share and the I-movie video that analysed and evaluated the cooking and scientific explanations of the chemical reaction. I was close to crying with delight. The joy of the learning experience created further fun and inspiration for us all.
- Blog to share the ethos of working and sharing collaboratively whilst having fun (of course!)
- Inspire all the learners into having enjoyment and meaningful experiences with their learning beyond the classroom walls
- Get more rest and sleep to handle all the new found enthusiasm
Hmm. Not sure where I will find the time. But guess what? I’m sure I will have fun trying…