Northern Rocks: Return Journey

Part of the Northern Rocks blog sync –

Trigger Warning – This post contains regional nationalism

I chuffing love the North. I have had a phenomenal day connecting not only with the northern contingent of my educational Twitterati, but with the Northern contingent of myself. My Billy Caspar, my Barry Chuckle and my Brian Clough have been reignited, due to the warm natured decency of educators from Yorkshire, Manchester and the North-East, as well as notable southern triaipsers who made the journey.

In the simplest terms, I got to meet some thoroughly great human beings today, some of whom were new to me and some of whom I had been hoping to meet. I shall not let the fact that there is a fuzzy haired teen projectile vomiting in front of me on my 9:21 train to Doncaster detract from my prosocial vibes. I might even choose to pat him on the back, such is the humanistic fervour that Northern Rocks has cloaked me in.

Credit is due to the wonderful Debra Kidd and Emma Ann Hardy, both of whom I had been looking forward to meeting, and finally I did, over cider, dhal and Masala Dola. The day was so well organised but beyond that, more notable is the fact that everybody united in the spirit of openness, friendliness and good humour. I randomly spoke to so many people today – simply put, even the best London gathering could not even come close to emulating the gravity of warmth that so many of us felt today.

I got to meet some passionate educators today. I enjoyed meeting Amjad Ali, whose compendium of resources was mind boggling and whose ideas for teaching and learning left us begging for more. He is a formidable presenter, and it was good to briefly say hi. I shall be littering my kids books with green and red dots from Monday and lots of people have been in touch with me, from as far away as California, about ‘I wish my teacher knew’, as a consequence of your talk.

Hywel Roberts is someone I have been aware of, but haven’t engaged with. If Billy Caspar and Jim Carrey had a child, and that child married Peter Kay, and that child also had a child, that child would be Hywel Roberts. His session on his general approach was really insightful, and if only for the images of a Yorkshireman educating the children of Cairo, it was worthwhile as well as very entertaining.

Tait Coles was delivering the session I was most looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. The fact that he managed to introduce a room of laymen to the core principles underlying critical race theory in just 45 minutes, whilst also introducing key events in recent current affairs of IslamophobiA, was genuinely remarkable. His uncompromising openness about his privilege as a white man is refreshing, and it is a consciousness that is lacking in most speakers and thinkers in educational circles, even among those who discuss race.

Tim Taylor is a thoroughly pleasant man, and I loved his session on Mantle of the Expert, which is admittedly alien to me, and through chatting away into the evening, I feel I have found a kindred spirit. Thanks Tim, and it was great to meet you at long last.

I was also hugely pleased to connect with the Staff.Rm massive – Rachel Rossiter and Sinead Gaffney, you are both the sort of teacher I loved having as a kid and cried over when it got to the end of July and had to leave you. Admittedly I cried about quite a lot of things, but don’t let that take away from how much I enjoyed meeting you and discussing our different experiences as teachers.

Northern Rocks was such an enjoyable event, and it makes me proud to be a teacher, proud to love teaching, proud to love my kids and even more crucially, proud to be Northern. We ought to speak up for our profession, and if anyone outside of teaching was to see us today, I cannot help but think they would be mesmerised. We are right to bemoan our lack of time and money, but the fact we give up our Saturday for a paid event to celebrate pedagogy speaks more of our passion than it does of our inability to appreciate irony!

Pride does not come easily to me. I can be smug, boastful, embarrassed, modest, immodest and self deprecating before I can be proud. Two things really make me proud though; when my kids really dramatically overcome the odds to achieve some feat of spectacular excellence is one thing that makes me proud. The other thing that makes me proud is to be part of a group of people whose professional drive and humanistic passion sees them commit many minor miracles every day.

I am proud to teach. Thanks Emma and Debra.

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