Practitioner based college improvement

I was interested to read the twitter conversation between two valued colleagues, Tony Cassidy and David Rogers on some of the issues surrounding teacher CPD.

As one of the few lucky schools who actually made it through BSF, it has become painfully apparent that to maximise the potential that a new school building can offer, you really need an exceptionally strong commitment to teacher development and CPD.

However, in our school the approach to teacher CPD offered within school had been predominately top down information sharing. I should point out I don’t criticize the school for this, rather the expectations and constraints placed on them by the LA/OFSTED. As a result, each academic year timetabled into the calendar are approximately six “College Improvement Meetings” (CIP). Historically, the quality, relevance and appropriateness of these meetings has been questioned by many staff. Indeed, there was a resounding feeling that they were things to be endured rather then genuine attempts to improve practice. (They were almost always directed at the entire staff and would usually take place on Monday after school… Ouch!)

With this in mind, following one of our teaching and learning group meetings, myself and Lesley Hall our Maths AST, threw some ideas around regarding how our CIP meetings could be enhanced for the coming academic year. What we proposed was a more teacher based approach to CIP meetings that was centred on teaching and learning and was not a one size fits all, top down approach. The presentation below was given to staff to during our proposal for next year. The notes accompanying each image are on the last slide.

When we presented the proposal to staff at the end this last academic year, we introduced them to the cycle of meetings. At that point we had no idea what the staff needed in terms of CPD so we asked them to consider what they felt were aspects of teaching and learning that they most needed assistance with. To facilitate this discussion and with contributions from many in  my twitter network, we created a “discussing teaching and learning presentation”

The slides here were designed to get the staff discussing some of the challenges we face as educators on a lesson by lesson or day to day basis. Members of staff were asked to comment and discuss the extent to which they agreed with the statements.

Following a lively discussion, staff were then asked to draw up a list of themes relating to teaching and learning they would like to investigate next year. These were collated and staff were offered two choices of groups they would most like to join. Groups were then formed around these themes. For this academic year we have groups of teachers investigating…

(1) Developing independence in learning

(2) Teaching an d learning strategies for positive behaviour management

(3) Approaches to promote achievement of students with limited English

(4) Differentiation, by questions, task and outcome

(5) Language development across the curriculum

(6) Effective feedback

(7) Learning outside the classroom

(8) Advanced uses of technology to enhance learning

(9) More advanced Interactive Whiteboard skills

(10) Basic Interactive Whiteboard skills

Each time the group meets next year it will be chaired by a facilitator. This individual is not an expert in that particular aspect of teaching and learning but has volunteered to steer discussions and chair meetings. The facilitator also needs to offer support and encouragement through a group email distribution list.

Meeting 1 (September 2010)

Meet other members of the group and share experiences (good and bad) of particular theme

What each teacher would like to achieve by the end of the year

What that might look like in terms of impact on students

Identify one change that you could make to your practice to help you move towards this goal in before the next meeting.

Meeting 2 (December- January)

Feedback on successes / barriers initiating first step

Offer mutual peer support and guidance

Identify a theme, resource or training need for meeting 3

Meeting 3 (January – April 2011)

Receive some kind of CPD from an “expert” This could be an external trainer invited in or a member of the staff team.

Plan further changes to practice following CPD input

Meeting 4 (April – June 2011)

Feedback on successes / barriers after making further changes to practice following CPD

Offer mutual peer support and guidance

Identify a method of presentation to communicate learning’s to whole staff

Meeting 5/6 (June – July 2011)

Group’s feedbacks to the entire staff on individual / group learning’s and suggest recommendations for changes to whole school policy based on teacher experiences within the cycle.

As the year progresses I’ll write up the successes and challenges the cycle throws up!

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