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Since lockdown, my personal professional development has been on a steep learning curve. I have been learning how to run meetings online, in particular Network Meetings. It is important to me to stay in touch with teachers in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, and to be able to support them in the best way I can as their Area Coordinator.

The AMSP uses BigBlueButton (BBB) as their platform, so my first step was to attend training on and practise using BBB. Having had to cancel the standard Coffee and Pi (Oxon) and Making Them Think! (Bucks) meetings in March, I arranged online meetings for May. The initial meetings were ‘catch-up and chat’ sessions, at which I ascertained what teachers wanted for the next meetings. Both sets of teachers chose to find out more about Desmos activities, which are very powerful ways of delivering online lessons. The Oxfordshire teachers wanted to discuss grading, and the Buckinghamshire teachers wanted to discuss Year 10 to Year 11 transition.

For the follow-up meetings in June, I enlisted Jack Wilcock from Matthew Arnold School, who has used Desmos activities for some time with his students, before lockdown in the school’s computer room, and during lockdown online. He focused on using Polygraphs where students communicate with each other. I showed teachers some of the features which make Desmos so good for online delivery, and as a teaching tool.

What differences have I noticed in migrating to online working?

On the plus side, teachers are appreciative of the online Network Meetings because there is no travel time and, in fact, would like some of the meetings in the next academic year to be online as well, even when we can go back to face-to-face working. They also like to catch up with teachers from other schools, which of course is one of the huge benefits of Network Meetings. I have been pleased to welcome teachers who had never been to a Network Meeting in the area before, and hopefully those new contacts will continue to attend meetings in the future.

Negatively, I have missed those chats which we have over a tea and coffee break which are missing when we are online. It will be difficult to run some activities online, so these activities may have to be abandoned for the time being. Finally, sometimes the technology doesn’t behave as it should!

But overall, I think that online Network Meetings have proved successful, and must be part of the way forward.

Please remember that the Network Meetings are yours to decide what you want to cover. In the new academic year, the first meetings in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire will focus on Large Data Sets, which several of you have asked for.

The last Network Meeting of this year is scheduled for Tuesday 14 July 2020 (Bucks). Details about these events are available on the AMSP events page.

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