Pedagoo: Getting stuck in

An online community of teachers sharing tips for classroom practice has blossomed thanks to social media. Fearghal Kelly tells us more.

Pedagoo

noun
The method and practice of teaching, the gooey mess we often find ourselves in, and the sticky essence of collaboration

You may have heard of Pedagoo. It emerged in 2011, the brainchild of a small group of teachers in Scotland who decided to use a collaborative blog to explore the growing opportunities for learning available for our pupils. We knew we didn’t have all the answers – but we weren’t afraid to try.

Three years on, Pedagoo is a burgeoning online community of thousands, set on creating and sharing innovative teaching and improving outcomes for our students. The power of social media has allowed us to share and develop our classroom practice - we now have almost 15,000 Twitter followers. Essentially, Pedagoo is a place where ‘open-minded teacher-learners’ can come together and learn from each other in a ways which were not possible before the widespread infiltration of the internet into our lives.

"Learning is a social experience, so professional growth is usually fostered through exchange, critique, exploration and formulation of new ideas. Language interaction in supportive and challenging collaborative contexts is often indispensable. With the help of sympathetic others, the open-minded teacher-learner can scaffold his or her way to new states of knowing, feeling and acting in the interests of pupils." Dadds (1997)

Not only do I love the view of professional learning shared in the quote above, I particularly like the fact that this perfectly captures the essence of what it is we’re trying to do through social media with Pedagoo, and yet this was written long before ‘social media’ had become the ubiquitous force that it is today.

Pedagoo consists of three main ways of sharing, our collaborative blog Pedagoo.org, our twitter presence in the form of our @pedagoo account and the weekly hashtag #PedagooFriday (where teachers share the highlight of their teaching week) and our events, which consist of free teacher-led conferences on Saturdays. The consistent theme running through all of these approaches is the attempt to provide positive opportunities to share classroom practice. What has amazed us has been the appetite to participate from teachers throughout the UK.

So what are teachers sharing? The practice shared through the Pedagoo community is as vast and varied as the teachers who contribute, as that’s essentially what the community survives and thrives on.

A common theme of most of the practice we see being shared relates back to the quote above, in that members of our community are clearly ‘acting in the interests of pupils’. This can take the form of sharing strategies to enhance learning at every age and stage, but on #PedagooFriday we often see a large number of tweets from Secondary stage teachers sharing approaches to improving exam success. These are then very often quickly taken up and adapted by others - normally by the following Friday, ready to share again still further!

This is the real value of our community – teachers sharing with teachers, ideas that have worked, and those that haven’t. Anything from strategies to engage and excite pupils, to time and admin management for busy teachers. The ideas are adopted, developed, tweaked, and shared again. A true learning community of professional educators with an enthusiasm and desire to improve their classroom practice and the experiences of their students.

When I think back to the start of my teaching career, all of the ideas and strategies I had access to were very much limited to the department and staff room I happened to be working in. Social media provides a potential to access a much greater source of support from far beyond our school gates, we just need to tap into it and make use of it in the interests of our pupils and ourselves.

Fearghal Kelly is a biology teacher and one of the creators of Pedagoo

References: 
  1. Dadds, M. (1997). Continuing professional development: nurturing the expert within. Journal of In-Service Education, 23:1, 31-38. 

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