I love half term. I don’t really care what time of year it is, I don’t even mind particularly much if it rains. What I love is the break from the daily grind of getting three children up and dressed and ready and organised and out of the door for a day at school. The bliss of not having to do any of that at a break-neck pace carries me through.
I’m not one of those parents who quails at the thought of the holidays. I’m not saying it isn’t hard – I’m happy to say goodbye to the days when they were little and the change in routine and finding themselves in each other’s company was the cause of much warfare, but now, now that I too am back at school, with yet another timetable for me to coordinate, the holiday, at preferably the end of six, rather than eight weeks, comes as blessed relief.
Not that I don’t appreciate a break, though; a chance to do something on my own, just for me, without any young people, with or without pushchairs or changing bags. Normally, it means a trip to the shops, a little look at Ladies’ Nice Things, or a lunch with an old friend, or a rare trip out in the boat with the man that gives me the space to be me, but yesterday I opted for something different.
In the glorious sunshine of a February morning, I headed out, via a hugely entertaining train journey where I met a man on his way to see a steam engine, a TA waiting to start her teacher training, her Finnish teacher boyfriend, and a fidgety man who looked like he was longing to join in our conversation and tell us all off soundly, to Oxford, to a TeachMeet for those of us working with and interested in SEND.
I take my hat off to Simon Knight. I admit it, organisation is not my strongest point. Sometimes I feel as if my head is full of ping pong balls and when you add one in, another one pops out, but Simon had everything down to a T. There was coffee and cake. There were large, comfortable sofas and a place to chat. There was a single computer with everyone’s presentations on it, a running order and timings that stuck to times (apart from me, apologies, apologies). There were even prizes (thank you @natedtrust_marc)(@rachelrossiter won the one for coming the furthest).
@AspieDeLaZouch told us that we need to make the new Code of Practice work for us, and gave us some pointers on how to do that (as well as organising Rachel and I and ensuring we didn’t get lost between the station and the venue and back again). @honeybeevic reminded us of the specific needs of girls with autism, so easily overlooked. Will Harvey spoke about praise, and how easy it is to get it wrong. @90_maz dazzled us with a rather whizzy prezi and solid ideas around teaching children the vocabulary of science – something that is very much transferrable to the mainstream classroom. @ASTsupportAAli, who wasn’t sure whether he could make it, spoke from the heart, and with no bells and whistles, about what he’s learned in a year and a half of being in charge of inclusion at his school.
Tom Proctor Legg explained how he is using ipads to help children with writing, and @SimonKnight100 told us about an excellent little app called MadPad, which I shall investigate as it can help children to make sentences. After that, @BenSimmons_PhD spoke about some of his findings into the experiences of children with profound PMLD in mainstream school. And then there was me. I got nervous and went on far too long. Rachel had to get out a tissue and Simon had to wave at me to get me back on track. Ben and I had an interesting little micro-discussion about the merits of special/mainstream education afterwards.
But more than that, what he did was create a space for us to meet each other, to confirm friendships made in the artificial place that is Twitter. I think, after yesterday, that I can safely say that @ChrisChivers2, @rachelrossiter, @AspieDeLaZouch (who doesn’t come from Ashby de la Zouche), @90_maz, @ASTsupportAAli, @natedtrust_marc, @SimonKnight100 and so many others are my friends. I am glad to know you, and very glad to have met you. I had a great day.
@90_maz has blogged herein more detail about what people spoke about, and there is also a link to her whizzy prezi.