Seeds of Southern Rocks
I was thrilled when David Rogers agreed to come and work at Hindhead Campus. We had meet at a Microsoft teachers event some fifteen years earlier and somehow managed to stay in touch via social media, local Teachmeet type events and the occasional chance encounter at our local zoo. I kid you not.
In the relative calmness of the post exam period in June, we muted the idea of hosting a “teachers for teachers” event. Modest, with real heart, where any teacher could share their story with other teachers. What David refers to as Campfire CPD. September was “Pedagoo Hampshire.” October was most definitely “Teaching and Learning Takeover.” So we settled on February. Other than that, the only concrete decision was David insistence on ice-cream, despite average seasonal temperature rarely hitting double figures. We accepted that six months presented a timely challenge and set about our task.
We emailed, called, DM’d, cajoroled and harrassed former colleagues and associates and were pleasantly surprised when many agreed to be involved. (Even you Stephen Lockyer.) We called in all our owed favours and offered IOUs where there we none. We pleaded “zero-budget” and exchanged good-will for support. We even borrowed our name “Southern Rocks,” (thank you Debra Kidd and thank you Northern Rocks). Emerging advocacy groups, #WomedEd and #BameEd, got behind us, encouraging a wide group of teachers to get involved… and by October, we nearly had a full program.
Tickets were released later that month and steadily the numbers climbed. We hit our target of fifty and still they climbed. We recruited a few extra session leads… and still they climbed. It was around January that we started to recognise a rather unique atmosphere was developing. Teachers were talking about Southern Rocks as the next “anticipated” event and still the numbers climbed.
We were starting to find it tough to make ends meet. Our employers, OneSchool, and local Trustees in particular, were nothing short of tremendous. They encouraged us to focus on what was needed, rather than what we had, offering to cover any shortfall our slightly ambitious plans were starting to redeem. They even encouraged us to host a pre-Rocks meal for our session leads, as a token of their appreciation, for colleagues giving up their Saturday to lead a session, and offered to cover that as well!
Thankfully, our pleas for support were slowly being answered. Onvu Learning, Calls9, Discovery the World, Literacy Planet, John Catt Publishing all contributed, Twinkl, GCSEPod, Canvas and IPEVO sent deliveries, James Dean and Sam Cook at Everybranded produced the lanyards and a long list of education authors donated signed copies of their books… and still the numbers climbed. At 240 David closed the ticket sales and opened a waiting list. And the waiting list numbers climbed.
We hope that attending was worthwhile. Feedback would suggest the event was somehow special. Lots of teachers made their presenting debuts, some travelled a long way to be with us (thank you), some made new connections and many revisited old ones.
What did we get out of it? Teaching is a tough profession. Knowing that we brought teachers together, knowing that they will have left stronger, revitalised… being in a position to say, “thank you for all you do.” That is a pretty cool thing don’t you think?
Dear Kristian and David and your amazing team,
I can not thank you enough for organising this event. Wow … so impressed from the minute I arrived to the moment I left, by your amazing students who were braving the freezing misty day, the enthusiastic welcoming committee, the thought provoking ideas & stimulating talks, the buzzing atmosphere, the food … It really didn’t stop flowing…
She closes with
Many thanks again for all your time and effort in putting together such a fabulous event which was so enjoyed by all. Keep doing what you are doing … if you have enough energy!
Why join us at Srocks19? Given the feedback we are trying hard not to change too much. Three fantastic speakers. 30 sessions. Of course ice-cream. A warm welcome, of course – great coffee. Tea, fresh fruit, pastries. Lunch, fresh from the BBQ, care of the Rapid Relief Team. Lots of “Golden Tickets” – that is tickets that come with gifts (signed books, teacher goodies, 1st in line, VIP treatment). But most of all – come for the stories.