Last year, I was fortunate enough to work with science teacher Bex Owen – helping her to reflect on and plan her own CPD. Bex discussed this at 15 minute forum earlier in the year – you can read about it here. This confirmed to me that CPD is a very personal thing – different people want different things, depending on the very specific area of their practice they are looking to develop. It’s for this reason that we should try to provide a wide range of optional and different CPD opportunities for teachers (read more about this here) – and wherever possible, ensure that these are within the context of their own subject. These activities should also be easily accessible for teachers. This post describes two ways in which we are planning to address this.
Subject Pedagogy Leaders
Each curriculum area now has a ‘Pedagogy Leader’. Every INSET day, time will be given over to a ‘Subject Pedagogy Development Session’. This session will be led by the Pedagogy Leader, and will focus on developing a particular aspect of our teaching, within the context of that subject.
The first such session will take place next week – and will focus on student effort. I’ve recently writte about how we have updated our ‘effort rubric’ – see here. During this session on the INSET day, curriculum teams will look at the effort rubric, from their subject perspective and consider these points:
- Look at and discuss the effort rubric, within the context of your subject.
- What does exemplary student effort look like in your subject? (6 key features)
- As a subject team, what 3 things could the whole team commit to doing, to improve effort?
On the face of it, it might appear that this would be a pretty similar conversation within each team. But when you begin to unpick it and think about it carefully – it won’t. The way a student ‘self-checks’ a piece of work in art, will not be the same as they do in English. Similarly, how a student responds to feedback in maths, will not be the same as how they will in PE, or drama. Another key aspect of ‘effort’ is students taking pride and care over their work. Again, it’s easy to see how this will be different when writing up a science experiment compared to producing a piece of work in product design. This is why we believe that putting CPD like this back into subjects, is so important.
Personalised Professional Learning
Teaching is a really busy job, so we want to make it as easy as possible for our colleagues to engage with effective and personalised professional learning opportunities. Whilst we have things like 15minute forums, Journal Club, Blog of the Week and research projects going on regularly, sometimes staff need something that is specific to them . This has to be something that is going to ‘work’ for each person and allow them to address their own development priorities.
In order to support colleagues with this, Andy Tharby and I have distributed a ‘CPD planning form’ to each teacher at the school.
Firstly, it asks teachers to identify their own personal development priority:
It’s important to focus on one specific aspect of your teaching, rather than trying to do too much – the idea of ‘marginal gains’. By focusing on the development of one aspect of our teaching, and practising it in a determined way, we are far more likely to embed it into our practice. This idea was supported by Chris Moyse during his presentation at TLT15. Chris asks all teachers at his academy to identify and share one aspect of their teaching they are looking to develop – by writing it on a sheet, that is then displayed in their classroom. This may be over the course of a year, or a term – that will vary from teacher to teacher. Anyway, thanks to Chris for sowing the seeds for this idea.
Next, colleagues are presented with a range of possible optional CPD activities:
All they have to do is to tick what they think would be useful, add a few more details if appropriate and then hand it in to me. Andy and I then take a look at them, discuss how best to support the requests from each member of staff and then get in touch with them, to plan the support.
These forms have only recently gone out to staff, but we have already done the following for staff:
- Bought a specific book they wanted for the CPD library.
- Put them in touch with a successful department in another school.
- Found a suitable course for them to attend (we are not big fans of courses, but this one is being led by someone we know and trust to deliver a great day of CPD).
- Organised for a colleague from the English department to support the development of extended writing in another subject.
- Worked with a Curriculum Leader to arrange some ‘subject knowledge booster sessions’ for staff.
- Arranged some coaching conversations around specific areas of pedagogy e.g. challenge and modelling.
These are all very relevant and specific to the individual teachers that requested them – a good feature of effective CPD.
Our plan is to distribute these at the start of every term.