A month on from our first Kognity Conference, we sat down to talk with one of the teachers who attended to share her experience. Sofie Muchardt Smith is the IB Coordinator at Internationella Engelska Gymnasiet Södermalm, Stockholm. This is what she had to say about her experience at the Kognity Conference.
What made you decide to go to the Kognity Conference?
We thought it would be a great opportunity to go and show our support. We like Kognity’s products and also saw the conference as a chance to meet other users, do some networking and just learn, from both the Kognity team and the other people attending.
Throughout the year do you regularly go to conferences or workshops relating to the IB?
I go to the yearly IB Regional Conference for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. I go to a lot of workshops too, and have actually just trained as a workshop leader myself. Eventually I will be delivering my own workshops.
When you see a training or conference, what is it that makes you want to attend?
It’s always great to have some practical take backs for the classroom, but training is also important in terms of school development. I am both a teacher and in the management team for our school, so it goes beyond the classroom too. I met some people at the Kognity conference that were very interesting and that I will keep in touch with. So that kind of networking aspect is always useful as well. We all have international education in common, so can always learn from each other and exchange ideas.
You mentioned taking things away from conferences, what things did you take away from the Kognity Conference?
I really liked the workshops. We had an opportunity to split into different groups and I attended one by Claire Neeson, an IB Psychology teacher at Impington Village College, Cambridge. I got loads of hands-on tips from her. She ran the workshop by saying “think about doing this” or “try doing that” – which was brilliant. All of the speakers were really good. I particularly liked Richard Henry, the former IBO Director of Global School Services. These are real veterans of international education who have been everywhere; they know about so many school contexts. They just have a lot of good advice to share, and things like that are always a positive for me to listen to.
You also said you enjoyed Richards talk. Why did his talk in particular stand out for you?
He was very knowledgeable and very well prepared. He was also a very charismatic speaker. Anyone that has the amount of experience that he has in the role can offer great insight – particularly for us as an IB school. The experience that he had in school services was extremely helpful. He is the sort of person that will tell you what you really need to know when it comes to not only becoming an IB school, but what schools are looking for when they go through their five year evaluation. That is something we are doing next year, so for me that part was really important as I am in charge of that whole process. What made him so valuable was the fact that he was referring to very pragmatic things, such as what they look for, what needs to be done and how they think about things like that.
You also said that you took some tips away. What type of tips did you find most useful and have you used any of those since?
Yes, I did use lots of things that I learnt in the workshop. Basically, she ran it like we were in a classroom and we actually did the things that she talked about doing. She showed us many kinds of starter activities and different types of group activities. Then we designed an activity for the classroom in our mini groups on how we might teach about seed dispersal mechanisms in fruits. It was something I don’t know anything about – I am a History and English teacher. But we came up with a really great classroom prototype that was subject transferable. It was really interesting. She was one of those teachers who loved to be in front of any group of learners. That’s always inspiring too: someone that loves their job and on a daily basis looks for ways to engage and interest their students. She engaged us really well, she was a real super star.
How did you feel the day went from start to finish?
Fantastic. It was fantastic. They did such a good job and we were sure to tell them that when we were there. They were all so young and so driven and passionate. They really did an excellent job organising and hosting, not only the conference but also the dinner afterwards, which was absolutely lovely, really top notch. Given that it was their first time even more so. They are pros!
What would you say to a teacher who was considering coming to our next conference?
I would say absolutely go! If I wasn’t in a position to go then I would say to one of the heads of department or one of the lead teachers in the relevant subject groups to go in my place. That way they can get ideas and see what different methods you can use in the classroom. At the Kognity conference there was a focus on the “Flipped Classroom”, so there were lots of ideas for that. But there were also other things around that. Like I said, the key note speakers didn’t just focus on the “Flipped Classroom” – it went far beyond that. If anyone would be interested in going, I would definitely encourage them to go.
Did you attend the Kognity Conference and want to share your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.