Making a Spanish Omelette out of Teaching and Learning – or should that be a French one? By Dr Sue Allingham

20th April 2017

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I put in my proposal for Childcare Expo London – and promptly forgot all about it!  So when I received the email to say that I was invited to speak on ‘Teaching and Learning – the onion approach’ it was a lovely surprise.

I set to work forming and reforming my ideas to refine them into an hour’s worth of seminar.  As well as putting out adverts – kindly supplied by the Childcare Expo Team – on all my social media pages.

My subject – teaching and learning – can be quite dry and I didn’t want to bore people so my mission was to make it as entertaining as possible.  Eventually, it involved onions and eggs mixed together with some Chinese script, research, Ofsted and Statutory Requirements.  I didn’t call my consultancy ‘Early Years Out of the Box’ for nothing!

As I travelled towards Olympia on the tube I went over my notes again – will the audience find it entertaining and thought provoking?  Will there even be an audience??  Will I be talking to an empty room?

I arrived in plenty of time and was welcomed by the Team who gave me my lanyard and showed me where everything was.  Feeling confident that I knew where the Seminar Room was I went in search of a friend of mine who was waiting in the cafe.  By chance Beth was talking to someone that I only knew in the virtual world – David Wright also known as Mr Paint Pots who was also presenting a seminar.  Good to meet him in person.  As we talked another friend – Rob – arrived.  I discovered that my two friends were coming to my talk – no pressure then!

Cuppa in hand I made my way to my Seminar Room – there was a queue waiting to hear me.  That was reassuring.  The lady on the day was expecting me and ushered me in as soon as the previous audience came out.  The support given was very good – and we laughed as I was fitted with a ‘Madonna’ microphone because I hate using a handheld one.

A nod from the team at the back and it was time to start – some more people came in and the room was nearly full.  To gauge the mood of the audience I joked about my ‘Madonna’ microphone as I introduced myself – they laughed and appreciated it.  This set the mood – I love working with an audience that interacts and participates.  They were thoughtful and thought provoking and they laughed in the right places.  The perfect audience.  The hour flew past and a teaching and learning omelette – plus several serious pedagogical points – was made. I am very grateful to the lady who came up to me at the end to thank me and add that an omelette made with just onions is actually a French one.

I was then free to wander round the exhibition with Beth.  We found it thought provoking.  It gave us a lot to reflect on during our tea breaks – and we bumped into another virtual friend who had been giving a seminar – John Warren.  Having the opportunity to interact with other professionals – well known or not – is an important part of attending Childcare Expo.  You may well not agree with things you see or hear – and there is a lot to take in – but make a point of stopping at as many stands as possible and talking to the representatives.  Also, attend seminars that are about things you don’t normally consider.  Professional discussion is vital to developing informed thinking – nothing is ever all right or all wrong.

‘Without contraries, there is no progression’

(William Blake)

Dr Sue Allingham, Early Years Out of the Box


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