Festival of Education- Mandy Graham

These are Mandy Graham’s notes from the Festival of Education 2015 held at Wellington College. She works as a cover supervisor and sometimes covers teaching in humanities subjects and business studies at a secondary school.  She used to work as a teaching assistant. She is also the course leader for the Teaching Assistant Course (Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools). She teaches and assesses TA students in college and also observes and assesses TAs demonstrating skills in placement (local schools).  She is  currently working towards her CACHE IQA qualification.


The Festival of Education was enlightening and inspiring. One of my favourite lectures was about ‘True Grit’ from Dr Angela Lee Duckworth. As educators are we encouraging ourselves, leaders, colleagues, students and others we encounter to develop?

What does it take to be successful?

  • consistency
  • perseverance
  • character, dependability, kindness
    these qualities increase with age

Will Smith talks about True Grit (see link to article here)

Francis Galton – highlights a recipe for achievement

  • natural talent
  • hard labour
  • zeal

Grit is sustained passion and perseverance for long term goals

  • people want to strive and have goals
  • grit lays a path to this
  • achievement = talent x effort

Skills as a function of deliberate practice
Anders Erickson suggested a 10,000 hrs rule, which indicates to be outstanding at something it takes years and years of practice

What is deliberate practice?

  • setting a specific stretch goal
  • concentrating 100% (usually in solitude, without interruption)
  • getting immediate and formative feedback
  • practice repetitively until fluency / automatic
  • rewards can be far off
  • feelings of failure are normal if you are working outside your comfort zone, it is a sign you are stretching yourself

Martha Graham dancer said…dancing appears glamorous …’
Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.

Building Grit

  • race your strengths
  • train your weaknesses
    Usain Bolt

focus on what you are doing not on what you are and not imagining alternatives

believe that the ability to learn is malleable / achievable

– find a partner, mentor, coach
– they have perspective
– they have psychological distance
– don’t quit on bad days
– talk about this when you are in a better state of mind
– create a culture of grit and deliberate practice

Reach for your dreams, goals and aspirations …. You can do it!

download (1)

As an educator are you versatile? Can you adapt to deal with changing circumstances in your teaching environment?

The video shows an example of how situations can be overcome by thinking creatively.

Do you encourage creativity in the classroom?

A useful tip from the Festival of Education: encourage learners to think differently and be creative.


Another workshop I attended was on ‘Developing Leaders’ from the authors of ‘Don’t Change the Lightbulbs.

Developing Leaders workshop examines:

– developing people
– what works for organisations
– influential models or ideas
– what organisations do

influencing skills
motivating people, negotiating, public speaking, entrepreneurial
learning skills
listening, recognising potential
creative skills
envisioning, inspiring, empowering and aligning

Exposure and exchange

Model – ‘the learning triangle‘ (although there are debates that suggest the model is too simplistic and teaching / learning is more complex)

Model – Work of Boyatsis
– self assess
– ideal self (be clear about your vision of where you want to be)
– support and help from others

What organisations do as good practice:

– senior management forum (staff development committees)
– new experiences (engineer so people get broader experiences)
– additional feedback (how to give in depth personal feedback, coaching, what do people want to change)
– diagnosing development needs
– leadership courses
– competencies
– Hi Po development (identify early potential of individuals – fast tracking staff into leadership opportunities)
– others’ help (job shadowing, learning from others)
– self-help / resources
– emotional resilience / courage

Source : RS Academics

Senior Management Forum

discuss individuals’ development:

  • career direction, preferences and mobility
  • key strengths and achievements
  • development areas top 2 or 3
  • current, recent or planned development
  • individual produce a personal development plan

– teachers at any level can have a ‘fixed seat’ on the committee
– ‘open space’ approach (free discussions, agenda set by staff, no feedback required)
– project teams / process of learning

Additional Feedback
– understanding people
– personality profiles

– development centres (stretch and challenge, business strategies, people leadership, peer feedback)
– appraisal (derailers)
– upward feedback


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