Here we can share what types of events you have run at cluster level that have worked really well. You could also share what didn't go so well.

What has worked

Cluster Expo

We had this as a call back day in the school holidays. Teachers were generally very enthusiastic about the day and enjoyed having sessions 'By teachers, for teachers'. We had an expo committee set up made out of interested principals and lead teachers. This helped to share the load of organisation. We made up a handout for staff on the day. This included a reflective journal (adapted from another cluster).

We made sure we recognised the effort that teachers had gone to in preparing their workshops by giving them a bottle of wine and a certificate.

This year, we are using technology to help streamline the process. We are using Zoho Creator to make online workshop submission and workshop registration forms (see survey and form tools for more information). You can see our Cluster Expo wiki with these forms embedded as well as our programme for the day and areas for presenters to upload materials from their presentations.

We also had a media team of children from the local school who took photos of the event and interviewed teachers. They then loaded presentations up to the wiki using RockYou.

Expo cont:- Flaxmere:
We have run a "mini-conference" each year of the contract. The first was very successful, and they have got better each time! We have used various formats, but the following are our best recommendations:
  • Establish a theme for the conference in keeping with the ICTPD focus for the year.
  • research for and organise early a REALLY GOOD KEYNOTE. Our last one cost us $4500, and was worth every cent of that. My teachers were still voluntarily talking about what they gained from him 2 weeks after the event. (1 hr)
    (TIP: it's best if no-one has heard that speaker before)
  • on the same day, use that keynote to:
    - run a forum/presentation for school leaders, and bring in other leaders from outside the cluster too. (1.5hrs)
    - run a workshop for Lead Teachers and IT leaders: different focus - make it practical and growth orientated. (1.5hrs)
    - run a workshop (at the conference) for interested teachers.
  • run two workshop rounds: 1 x 1.5 hours: activity based workshops; 1 x 45min: presentations or how-to's.
  • presenters from outside the cluster are received very well. Don't overbook them: give them plenty of time to enjoy your conference too. Many excellent relationships have continued through the use of outside presenters.
  • give good thought/planning to the social time at the end. The greatest exchange of ideas and first processing of the learnings of the day happen right here. Good food and a good range of sponsor prizes lifts the event to superstar status.
  • Get started early in the planning, and be very thorough. What can go wrong will go wrong, but you'll be ready for it if you've crossed all the t's.
  • Our conference caters for 150. I have a small Access database that might be useful for organisation. It saves me a lot of work. Happy to share.
  • Use the event to identify potential presenters for conferences at national level.

School Bus Trips
The highlight for our teachers were the bus trips to schools in our area, that were identified as doing good things, during the day while class programmes were in action. Teachers visited 3 schools during the day, had the chance to talk to teachers in their classroom and see ICT in action as well as enjoy a lunch out where ideas were shared and expanded on.

Trips Away to Best-Practice Schools
This is very similar to the idea above but with the addition of a night away. One of the best ways to get a cluster to function as a group is to stay together in a hotel and head out for dinner and drinks one night. It improves the social dynamics of the group as well as giving people the opportunity to see great things happening in other schools.
Flaxmere: We have made a number of visits, all well received, but with a different approach to Suzi's outline above. I like to take my team away in a mini-bus. Much of the journey is spent in rich discussion, and the trip home is always about how we're going to respond to what we've seen and heard. Talk about talk!!! And it's much harder to do this well in cars. We eat together AT the host school - it needn't be flash, just lots of it! - then we spread out into classrooms for an hour or two to talk about pedagogy and challenges and to see the neat stuff before going home with staff or BOT members for the night. Yes, we billet out. It has been brilliant. Next morning, with good rapport already established, we spend time in the classrooms seeing the action. Depart by lunchtime. VERY low cost, minimal relief cover if you get away on the first day around 2pm (depending on distance to travel), and you almost certainly have the groundwork done for the host school(s) to come visit you next term!

Year Group Meetings
This year, we are having full day meetings for teachers working with similar age groups. That has meant all the Year 0-2, Yr3/4, Yr 5/6 ane Yr 7/8 teachers meeting on four separate days in term one. We have only had the first of these days so far but it was very successful. We are hosting the resources for each year group on a wiki and have an individual page for each teacher to record their journey with ICT over the year. You can go and look at these by first going to the TeacherPortal wiki and then clicking on the year groups on the left hand side.