The Tutors’ Association 3rd Annual Conference.
The Barbican, The City of London
Tuesday 16th October 2018

It was fantastic to attend my second Tutors’ Association this year with @SignatureEnglish after one year of rewarding collaboration crossing the curricula and geographical divide.  It is hard to believe we only met a year ago at the 2nd Tutors’ Association conference.

After an inspiring welcome from our president Adam Muckle, in which we were encouraged to share our energy, the Opening Plenary was presented by Jill Hodges from Fire Tech.  The title being ‘How can tutors be prepared for the future’.   My overriding take away was to ‘empower students with technical skills’.  I was so inspired by Jill’s enthusiasm to teach coding that I have already begun to teach myself some coding using the software ‘Scratch’.  Below is a small program I have produced.  As a Maths tutor, it is a nice cross-curricula activity with using coordinates and translations.

Some key phrases I noted; ‘Demonstrate good internet presence’,  ‘The train is coming down the track’ a metaphor for Online teaching.  Thank you Jill for a great start to the day.

There then followed a presentation from Dr Adam Boddison on ‘The New Curriculum, New Horizons, New Opportunities’.  Dr Boddison is the Chief Executive of NASEN (National Association of Special Education Needs) and gave a comprehensive overview of the different areas of education.  He encouraged us to give attention to students whatever their ability.  He emphasised ‘Getting to know your students’ which as tutors we have a unique opportunity and privilege to be able to do.

After a break for coffee we were off to the first of our chosen workshops.

Workshop 1 – The Best Resources for Tutoring by Emily Milne.  It was good in this session to have an opportunity to discuss in small groups the difference between tutoring and teaching.  We were then provided with some resources to discuss how we might use them in a tutorial.  There then followed a list of key words to engage the tutee with a resource; novelty, surprise, anticipation, appropriate challenge, application, feedback, competition.  A good resource as well as being a great ‘way in’ to a topic is also an opportunity to ‘break up’ a session.  I made an aide memoire to ask my students three questions to find out if they have internalised the concept.

Workshop 2 – Current trends in the Delivery of Education: Research, Neuroscience and Edtech by John Nichols.   It was particularly interesting in this session to hear about the neuroscience of learning.  The fact that the brain has neuroplasticity and can change was a good reminder not to pigeon-hole a student’s ability.  I learnt my first Chinese word and how to write it, as we heard how memories are made by connections.

Workshop 3 – Q&A: Mental Health – A Panel about Mental Health, Positive Psychology, Self Awareness and Resilience led by Peter Tait.  It made a refreshing change to attend a question and answer session with expert panellists Alan Beggs Chartered Psychologist, Natalie Harling from the Outward Bound Trust, Nicky Horn Teacher & Tutor at Ampleforth College, Daniel Licence Mental Health Adviser and Dr Kathryn Weston motivational speaker on parenting.  The overriding theme centred on the rise in social media.  Dr Weston remind us of the need for ‘Digital Hygiene’ for example putting the mobile phone away at night.  The importance of exercise and outdoor activities were also recommended.  In my notes I wrote ‘a dog is a better remedy to mental health issues’, not sure who said this or in one context but as the proud owner of a dog, I can vouch for the therapeutic benefits.

Workshop 4 – Developing Excellent Primary Tutoring Practices by Dr Stephen Curran. As I have taught and trained for the last ten years in secondary education, it was fascinating to get an insight into the development of Primary education over the years.  I noted the importance of laying solid foundations, for the teacher to teach the techniques and then allow the tutee to investigate and let the understanding develop and be their eureka moment.

The day finished with another inspiring presentation, this time from Katy Oglethorpe interviewing a beneficiary of the Prisoners’ Education Trust.  It is was a stark reminder of the benefits of education and how boredom in education can so easily contribute to a wrong path being taken.  It was uplifting to hear how despite all the obstacles the interviewee had gained a degree in PPE after six and half years.  To finish the day Dr Kirstine Szifris spoke on her experiences teaching in prisons.

As well as the workshops it was good to meet up and share ideas with other members, two of which I have noted below but cannot recall who to credit.

  1. Make a real effort to encourage tutees to present tutorial notes well. An underlined heading and date set a good start to the lesson and we end up with some useful notes at the end.
  2. Swap seats with your tutee occasionally.

It was great to see Simon and Cara again and to meet Kat, Fiona and David.  Thank you to The Tutors’ Association and all the speakers for all their hard work putting together another great Conference.

If there are any errors, omissions or misrepresentations please email jforsythe@passion4maths.com

The Tutors’ Association 3rd Annual Conference.

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