Message from Stornoway: I Can and I Will

Last weekend I had the pleasure of chairing the first ever TeachMeet Hebrides in Stornoway on the beautiful Isle of Lewis. The sun shone as we gathered in the bright new foyer of Lews Castle College UHI to listen to a tremendously varied selection of short presentations. There was a live video link so that those who were unable to travel, but with us in spirit, were able to feel part of the event, and a Twitterfeed displayed on the wall gave instant feedback and reassurance to those for whom Teachmeet was their first opportunity to present themselves in front of their peers – a potentially daunting task in any profession. Sometimes the technology refused to co-operate, which only served as a reminder that Teachmeets are about people’s experiences, successes and challenges. If the technology works, it’s a bonus rather than a necessity.

You can catch up with the presentations, photographs and associated events from TeachMeet Hebrides here.

Since returning from Stornoway, my attention has been drawn to this short film, made by a group of youngsters from the town’s Nicolson Institute, with help from local director Roddy Maclean in association with screenHi and the BBC’s L.A.B. Scotland. In the film, three of the young people describe the challenges they face when it comes to reading, writing and talking and how this in turn affects their confidence and self-image. Yet in each case, what strikes you is how articulate they are and what skills they have. At a time in Scotland when many are fretting over how we make assessment ‘fit’ the new curriculum, or even more sadly how we make the curriculum fit the new assessments, perhaps we should remind ourselves that when a curriculum is described in terms of ‘I can…’ statements, an essential component of assessment is self-assessment, and that no-one quite knows a person’s strengths and weaknesses as well as themselves. It is also worth reflecting that an important role of the teacher is to help young people articulate their story as effectively as possible. It strikes me that what applies to young people applies equally well to adults; just ask those teachers at TeachMeet how they felt immediately after their presentations last week.

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