5 THINGS I DO… OR WOULD LIKE TO DO

My staff development role has certain fixed points: professional studies for student teachers, NQT induction, appraisal, inset, line management of ASTs. But, embedded within the job description, are other more challenging statements, such as creating a ‘learning community’ for the school and what my Head terms ‘Getting staff to read about education’.  I have blogged here before about the innovative NQT programme I run, and how the ASTs lead a team of Development Coordinators to feed into the whole-school initiatives we drive through our Development Time. We do some good stuff. But below are 5 more CPD ideas, some of which we and other schools do, and some which – by announcing them here first – I hope to make happen in the near future. I would be grateful to anyone who posts a comment.

 

  1.      1. Department Buddy Reviews. Just as in any school that takes the monitoring of the quality of teaching and learning seriously, our SLT (and I am one of them) conducts regular reviews of faculties and key stages, by observing lessons, interviewing students, scrutinising work or doing learning walks. We occasionally manage to draft other colleagues – such as the ASTs – into this business. What if, instead of SLT doing the monitoring, we paired up departments to ‘do it’ to each other? We might have Geography reviewing Art, or Music inspecting Media Studies. It would be easy to establish some basic rules:
  2. SLT would compile the calendar and set up the pairings
  3. The review would focus on some aspect of the department’s development plan
  4. Both the departments reviewing and being reviewed would be expected to learn and implement something from the process
  5. The departments together would agree the methodology, but it would likely retain the observation of lessons
  6. There would be formal feedback from lessons, but this would not be graded. Grading changes the dynamic of the lesson taught, and for the observer it focuses their mind too much on ‘How do I explain why this is not outstanding?’, rather than ‘What can I and the teacher learn from this?’
  7. The reviewing department would write a report, which would be presented also to SLT and go in the big Ofsted file.
  8.     2.  Masters of Teaching. My school has been an enthusiastic participant in the school-based MA programme run by Middlesex University through their Midwheb partnership with north London local authorities. We began in January 2010, and to date 9 teachers (including myself) have completed their MAs in Education; we have another 4 or 5 in the pipeline. As associate tutor, I lead about 20 sessions after school on needs analysis, literature review, action research methodology, ethics and evaluating data. The research projects are school-based, usually relating to the teacher’s personal job description. Inevitably, as the school has made a big push on certain aspects of pedagogy, the MA studies have reflected these, so we now have a substantial evidence base for the impact of our in-house CPD. The main areas have covered creativity, student independence, homework, strategies to improve literacy, promoting resilience and the management of CPD itself. And we now have a considerable corpus of staff who have become skilled researchers.
  9.     3.  ChEd Talks. One of our main challenges following on from all of this research has been how to get others to notice it. Few colleagues are going to read someone else’s 20,000 words (apart from me, as I have to mark them). Standing up at briefing and announcing the main results also does the thing little justice: somehow we need a way of explaining the method as well as the findings, and then making evidence-based proposals. Vivian Porritt at the London Centre for Leadership in Learning, at the IOE, has spoken of the creation of ‘secret gardens’: where expertise develops in one place, but is hidden from view from everyone else. This is the recurring challenge for every CPD leader. What if we gave these secret gardeners their own flower show? My plan, aping the TED talks, is to launch a summer series of after-school lectures, where, for 15-20 minutes, a colleague speaks knowledgeably and entertainingly on a subject they have researched. It may be their MA, or just their personal passion. We will call them ChEds (derived from the name of our school). I will post again on the outcome of this.
  10.      4. Teacher-Researchers. What happens to all that research skill that my MA colleagues have latterly acquired? They have gained their academic qualification, but they have caught the action research bug. There have been teacher-researcher models in the past (eg TLA), but I fancy devising my own. Teachers spend an awful lot of time identifying gaps in knowledge, devising methods to tackle these and assessing the efficacy of their methods. They also often do this collaboratively. If we conceive this for a moment as research, then the evidence that is collected on a daily basis is huge. What we need to do is to find the time to analyse that data, to make ‘new knowledge’. All I mean is – get teachers talking together about what they have discovered, so the study can become a meta-study. But this must not become just another ‘secret garden’, so our teacher researchers would need to find a platform to share their new knowledge with others. A ChEd talk? Certainly. But I have just begun tentative talks with friends at London Metropolitan University to find ways of publishing our work, and possibly link up with like-minded colleagues in other schools across London.
  11.      5. 5 hours to do what you like. Planning the inset programme is what of my chores. In reality, much of it is taken up with regular fixtures (such as Moderation in Spring), and I have an incredible team of ASTs who understand it as their role to do most of the actual doing of inset. But a couple of years ago I was stuck with a problem: what should I do with the inset day in December? My solution was to give it back to the staff. They could use the day itself as they wished. They could go Christmas shopping; or, more profitably, they could visit another school, or museum, or theatre or library. Alternatively, they could take the 5 hours of the inset day, and ‘spend’ them in school across the year: in their frees, they could observe colleagues, carry out a mini-project, do an appreciative enquiry. The whole thing would be accounted for through appraisal: they would set their plan in October, and review their learning from it the following October. Some few colleagues perhaps did not use up their full allocation. Most, however, in the event spent much more than the 5 hours they were given, and were happy also to lend their time to other colleagues for their5 hours. They were much more creative than I could possibly have been in planning a day for all, and of course it was by definition differentiated to the needs of the individual. Inset has never been more popular!
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One thought on “5 THINGS I DO… OR WOULD LIKE TO DO

  1. Pingback: 5 THINGS I DO… OR WOULD LIKE TO DO | markquinn1968

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