What is a fifteen minute forum?

I hear you cry?  Well, let me tell you.  A 15 minute forum is a brief opportunity to gain a bit of CPD on the run, so to speak.

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You know how in the past you would gear up for a whole day out of school for some training, have to check train times, prepare your cover, leave earlier in the morning, not expect to get back at the same time and then have to pick up where you left off?

All this has changed!  Due to recent advances in our understanding of the brain, we now know that we can learn as much in a couple of short sessions as we might in an entire day.  If we come with an open mind and can engage in learning culture, who knows how one brief, dynamic or thoughtful input might help to improve your practice?  What is more, you do not have to leave the comfort of your own school staffroom, your favourite brand of coffee on tap, and colleagues you know and are confident with, but perhaps do not get to bounce ideas off as often as you would like!  In this way (see below), it even has some improvements on the recent CPD phenomenon known as the Teachmeet.  No cover required, no travel time, AND negligible impact on after-school marking or planning time.

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Teachmeet, which according to Twitter and indeed to Wikipedia takes place all round the country.  A West Sussex organiser explains that:

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every TeachMeet I’ve ever been to – it’s never felt like a burden. I’ve come away from each one with a tonne of ideas to use in my classroom, new friends who are in the profession and a full belly from a very decent pub meal.

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Well, perhaps we’re not getting as far as the pub meal here, but essentially this is grass-roots CPD we are talking about with no threat.  We know that practitioners are best placed to help practitioners, and let’s face it, as teachers we do not need a vast amount of preamble, or build-up, but simply the ‘meat’ of the idea itself.  We can very quickly in our heads scroll through our current groups, or subject topics, and see whether what is being offered will be useful for us or not.  Find out more about Forums by checking out Marginal Gains and MrBenney.

So what’s the snag?  Will you remember to come?  How will you know that attending the 15 minute forum will help to improve your practice?  Here are some recommendations for how to take responsibility for your CPD and know that you are giving yourself a good deal:

1. Prioritise attendance of the 15 minute forum.

2. Make sure that you talk to someone else about it and commit yourself to trying something out that is new for you

3. Bring back to the next session something that you have discovered.

4. Aim to make a contribution yourself – this could be anything from a comment on the blog, or a retweet, up to offering to present something from your practice as a forum session. 

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