Teachers talking about teaching…

For the first time in a while I feel like CPD is making an impact on my teaching. This year it has stopped me in my tracks a few times and made me think, tweak and reassess what I am doing. Since a new leadership team started at my school in September a lot of changes have been made (for the better!) and as a result CPD has focused much more on outstanding practice with an emphasis on sharing. Many members of staff have already run CPD sessions and many more waiting to deliver. The new leadership team has built an ethos which has shifted the school from focusing on WHAT and HOW we do things to WHY we do things. Focusing on the WHY has to a reflective culture in the school with staff taking more risks in lessons in order to move students forward in their learning and offer new and exciting learning opportunities.

For the last two terms in CPD sessions teachers have been working in different groups (which they opted into depending on their interest) looking at different ways to improve teaching and learning. Groups were formed for topics such as differentiation, questioning, using data, e.t.c. I have been working with a group of teachers focusing on ways to increase student enthusiasm. Working with teachers from different subject areas gives a fresh perspective on the same students but being able to choose what I wanted to investigate is very powerful indeed. Regular meetings, lesson observations, brain-storming sessions, e.t.c led to each of us coming up with something new to try in lessons in order to increase student enthusiasm for our subjects. I was specifically looking at starters and picked up some great ideas from my English and Drama colleagues about getting students to use their imagination more and tie that in with literacy. Might sound obvious, but sometimes its easy to fall into the bubble of your subject area and lose the wider perspective that is needed to develop.

The end product was three fold

1. A mini teaching conference after school in the main hall where teachers were able to walk round and see what everybody had been working on and discuss ideas – Teachers talking about teaching!

2. Best practice card was created by each group with tips, ‘quick wins’ and longer term strategies that could be tried.

3. Once a week we have a ‘teaching briefing’ for all staff which is led by teachers. Groups took it in turns to present back what they had found out.

Understanding WHY we teach and re-focusing on that has provided me with a renewed determination to give the students I teach the best possible chance of success.

engaging starters1

Idea taken from English and Drama colleagues to get students to think creatively about something. I was also inspired to try and conceptualise key blooms terms in order for students to have a deeper understanding of their meaning.

engaging starters2

Here I used an app got ‘Foldify’ to enthuse students about algorithms.

presenting back

Presenting back my ideas and research during a teacher breifing… Teachers talking about teaching!

#NeverStopLearning

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8 comments

  1. Mark Hardisty (@hardistymark)

    Fantastic idea. This kind of peer innovation model should be adopted by more professions. One of the best examples I’ve seen is at Blitz Games where developers and other staff have the freedom within a week of work to pursue their own projects and also have the opportunity to deliver workshops, talks or hints and tips to other staff.

    For example if you’ve been working on a piece of code that works really well you can post a workshop to share the method with others. I’m sure this would work with lesson planning, tips and tricks with software, finding new pieces of software, what works, doesn’t, etc.

    It would really encourage a bottom-up approach to innovation in any organisation as long as those in power participated and implemented the great ideas.

    • mrocallaghanedu

      I know Google also do this (allowing their employees to spend one day a week working on their own projects) and it led to various innovations. Be great if teachers were allocated time do something similar but not sure about the logistics. I think more inviting ‘meeting places’ to stimulate creative discussions might be a place to start in schools, rather then small ‘boxy’ meeting rooms / classrooms.i have most of my ideas whilst running, perhaps I should start a staff running club?!

      I am really enjoying CPD at the moment and I see the impact of CPD in lessons when I observe within the department and across the school which tells me it’s working!

  2. Helen Rogerson

    The structure of our day prohibits dedicated CPD sessions at the end of the day. However our new head teacher has started “sharing practice Wednesday” where we share ideas in briefing related to teaching or making life easier for our teaching. The accademic assistant head teacher regularly does book scurinities and feeds back to the school, highlighting and sharing good practcie. We are in a very fortunate situation that we are able to go to training outside school. I will be going to the ASE summer conference and I imagine I will be able to go to the annual conference next January too. I have also been informally working with another teacher doing peer observations. Knowing that it is informal has been great as there is no pressure on us to do anything other than support each other, it is not about ticking a box for SLT. Finally we have weekly subject meetings, at the moment they are take up with admin, but they are a great opportunity to share practice when we aren’t so busy. All this on top of our five INSET days, with alternating admin, pastoral and teaching emphasis. In the past I have found CPD wanting, I am glad you are having a positive experience.

    • mrocallaghanedu

      Helen – Sharing practice in teacher briefings is a great idea and something we do weekly. I think it helps build a culture in school of teachers wanting to explore and improve their practice. I think it’s important that schools allow teachers who want to explore ways to develop their practice a platform on which to do so. A top down leadership model of SLT telling staff what to explore will not work here, staff need to be empowered and take ownership to drive their CPD forward!

      • Helen Rogerson

        What strategies are used for those who aren’t empowered? And how does the system support those who already have firm (and sound) educational philosophies?

        Does your system allow for reflection and the measurement of impact on the teacher, students, results, department and school? The science learning centre has a lot of research about this.

      • mrocallaghanedu

        All great points Helen! People who already have a better understanding of the mechanics of teaching are encouraged to lead groups which gives them some leadership experience. I think the impact of CPD on lessons is assessed by teachers reflecting on their lessons and its also picked up during lesson observations and learning walks.

        By offering my personalised CPD and growing the bright spots of where it is done well, I’m hoping more will see greater value in it. We recently held an after school gallery where every member of staff ‘showed off’ their CPD for the last two terms which was really inspiring. Lots of teachers very proud of what they had done and discussing what they had learnt from doing their own research in small groups. It had a similar vibe to when you attend a teach meet and walk away with lots of ideas and ‘quick wins’ to try out in your lessons…

        Do you have a link to the Science Centre research?

  3. David Spence

    Seems great. I like the idea of the groupings. Which group did people join if they have particular weaknesses? We’re they directed?

    • mrocallaghanedu

      David – a number of groups were set up relating to different aspects of an outstanding lesson and staff opted into a group that interested them. This was absolute key, not pressurising staff to join a group but empowering them to lead their own line of enquiry. This led to groups made up of staff from across a wide range of subjects. In the group that I joined I got to hear some fresh perspectives on enthusing starters from Drama, Science and English which really helped me think beyond what I was doing in Computing.

      How do you do CPD at your school?

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