You would be forgiven for thinking that I was in a furtive online bidding war for a rare shabby-chic antique or trying to obtain sought-after tickets for a highly-acclaimed festival / concert / other cultural event. No, I was attempting to secure the opportunity to spend a weekend in November at a Youth Hostel in Dorking with 40 strangers at an unconference for senior leaders.
I can appreciate why this may seem like a bizarre thing to want to do. November is notorious for being the bleakest month in the educational calendar: the fresh start to the academic year, filled with high expectations and promise, is a hazy memory (as is the holiday tan and shiny new back-to-school stationery), and the Christmas break is distant on the horizon with only a back-breaking quantity of mock exam marking and dark and depressing commutes in the interim. Booking a mini break somewhere with a spa and a log-burning fire may have been more sensible. Instead, I'll be heading down the M25 after period 5 on a Friday 15th November to share a weekend, and a room, with teachers I have never met before for some voluntary, self-led CPD.
I was chuffed to snaffle one of the golden SLT Camp tickets. And, from the speed at which they sold out, so were other similarly motivated senior leaders across the country. So, what's the reason for this enthusiasm? Why am I, and 39 others, willing to sacrifice precious free-time and money for this unusual residential unconference?
It's an exciting prospect for many reasons: the privilege of being able to meet and share ideas with progressive educators; the chance to benefit from some intensive collaboration; the opportunity to learn from, and with, like-minded school leaders; the space and time away from habit and routine to properly reflect, think and plan.
Looking through the delegate list, schedule and pre-SLT Camp challenges, I'm excited by the potential of this unconference. The design of it is quite unique; the programme being completely bespoke, tailored to attendees' interests, motivations and expertise.
I'll be shattered by the middle of November but I've no doubt that I'll be refueled, refreshed and energised by what promises to be a truly absorbing and engaging weekend of professional learning and, dare I say it, fun. Not quite a spa break, but for an education junkie, perhaps the intellectual equivalent.
Thanks to @mrlockyer and @MissFindlater for the idea and organisation. I'm pleased to be part of the first cohort of this innovative venture.