I have been in post as leader of CPD for nearly a year now, and this has been my first post in a long time partly due to this fact. My school is an international school which hosts EYFS through to P16. My role as leader of CPD is to coordinate CPD through the entire school! I am not on the SLT which has its positives and negatives but working between the Primary SLT and Secondary SLT has been quite time consuming along with the current duties as HOD. The hardest part of this role has certainly been trying to create a provision that fits in with the vision of the school. However, being given a free reign and using the research available to produce a provision almost entirely from a blank starting point has certainly been challenging thought-provoking and engaging.
Before I started this post, I was lucky enough to jump on a 3 day leading CPD course which quite honestly has been one of the most effective externally led courses I’ve been on, as it gave me the knowledge, tools and insight into creating effective provision for professional learning. Since going on that course, I have read vast amounts of research and evidenced based articles regarding CPD and evaluation in particular and I am now on a path of reading further into the wider field of research in teaching and learning. Being overseas can certainly be lonely in terms of keeping up to date with the fast pace of education and policy changes but this has been made possible and more accessible thanks to the Twittersphere and the Livestreams (ResearchED and Teachmeets for example).
This is my first year in attempting at changing the culture of CPD towards a higher quality of provision through the use of the trojan mouse effect – small focused changes which can be far reaching. My whole year has been based on trying to create a bottom up, personalised approach in providing professional learning and because of the nature of the environment that we live in has been centred largely around collaboration thanks to the 2003 CUREE review on the impact of collaborative CPD Teaching and Learning – here and the many blogs and tweets I’ve encountered. The review consisted of combing through some 13,479 titles and reading 266 studies. Of that they found 72 studies that carried some relevance and then assessed again in terms of their weight of evidence that left 15 studies from around the world. In summary, collaborated CPD was linked to improvements in teaching and learning and reported that some of the improvements were substantial towards students and teachers.
There were behavioural changes to teachers including an enthusiasm to work collectively, a reduction in anxiety with regards to feedback and greater confidence as well as a greater belief that teacher could actually make a difference to student achievement. For students, there was evidence of enhanced motivation, increased quality of response to questions, improved performance (test results) and an overall wider experience of different learning activities.
Below is a reflection and summary on the strategies and interventions I have started this year in the quest for promoting effective CPD provision.
Whole school meeting – Primary AND Secondary:
A copy of the slides in PDF format can be viewed here: http://goo.gl/Vf9jZg
Here I used some of Prof J Hattie’s research to try and make the point that the teacher has the highest number of effects which can affect student achievement and learning. I then went on to talk about the blog (Alex Quigley – HuntingEnglish.com) and the OK Plateau which sort of led me to research Joshua Foer. I think it was at this point where I felt personally people were becoming more reflective about their own practice and how much they had developed over their teaching career. This lead on nicely to a slight detour as I had come across the work of John Fisher and the process of transition. I showed them this slide http://goo.gl/G6nrtt which highlights the emotional change people may go through for effective change to occur. The main reason for doing this was to try and counteract some of the negativity I was anticipating with the changes I had planned. I think at the time, it would have had some impact but would certainly need revisiting to sustain a positive ethos towards professional learning. There was certainly a good vibe and an air of optimism after the meeting which was good because the following day there was another CPD strategy. See below.
An internal Teachmeet. For the vasty majority of staff, they had heard of Teachmeets but had never attended one. So for the first week of INSET, we held our own (with a slight difference). Four primary and secondary staff randomly had 3 minutes to share their idea BUT they had been briefed not to go into too much detail because afterwards, staff voted on their top 2 preferences for further exploration of that idea in a classroom. This worked perfectly because it allowed teachers to engage in questioning to further their understanding. For example, one member of the primary staff used imotion HD and spent an extra 20minutes supporting staff in using the software in a ICT classeroom. After the 20minutes workshop was over staff went onto their second preference. For that 90 minute session, staff were engaged and already some of the more ‘reserved’ members actually vocally approved of the small event.
Teaching & Learning Bulletin
Quite simply I have put together “The SES T&L Bulletin”. A simple document which is emailed to all staff – once a month. Inside are blog articles (with permission!), ideas on AFL, research, and general tips and ideas picked up.
Lead by the SSAT, there are currently 9 members of staff who are driving pedagogical change through the school to improve teaching and learning. This has been kindly part funded (50%) by the school and is working towards a whole school improvement. This is evidenced based and once achieved, the accreditation can then go towards a masters degree. The programme involves those to attend 6 school based lectures, carryout an action research project and a coaching module evidence impact.
Personalising through small T&L groups
I conducted a staff survey on CPD provision. This was to try and gain some insight into the needs and develop a bottom up approach model. The questionnaire which went out was based (at that time) on the new Sept 2012 teacher standards. The intent here was to pick out staffs strengths and weaknesses and create a programme personalising CPD to their needs. This started shortly after the Christmas break but prior to that and in conjunction with the Primary SLT we initiated the planning by using various review tools and using the coaching skill-will matrix (Max Lundsberg) identified staff to help change the culture of an outdated CPD approach to a more collaborative one. One term I came across during the CPD Leaders course was through a research paper (McKinzie Report), Prescribe Adequacy – Unleash Greatness. Headteacher, Tom Sherrington in a similar way describes his unleashing greatness of his staff by using a rainforest analogy and allowing personalisation to characterise the provision of CPD – here. Rather than constraining staff to a linear path he envisages staff taking risks and creative opportunities without being too restrictive. I wouldn’t say that we have unleashed greatness just yet or that our rainforest is growing wildly out of control but their is certainly some growth and momentum and hopefully this can all be showcased for the purpose of improving student achievement. Slowly, I have experienced particular members of staff who have surprised me with their willingness to come forward and share with me their teaching and learning accounts in the classroom. A possible sign that the wheel is turning.
With the needs of the colleagues now collated, the Primary SLT identified members of staff to lead a mini T&L group with a specific focus: Implementing the new Primary Curriculum, AFL strategies and success criteria. Over the past couple of months staff have been busy trialling, collaborating, exploring, implementing ideas based on their focus. To share the findings, staff will be presenting to the SLT and the rest of the Primary school where hopefully this will shape future practice. Early indications from feedback suggests that this has been a useful approach but need to re-consider group sizes in future.
CPD Tues Briefing
Within the primary sector, briefing is on a Sunday and the secondary school, everyday but on Tuesday this is known as CPD Sun/Tues. After all the reminders have been shared out, CPD briefing kicks in. Basically, all staff were entered into a random generator and one person is picked out to share one teaching and learning idea that they use. For most people this is one of the highlights of the week as it breaks up the monotonous morning briefings that we have on a daily basis and the more interactive they are, the more entertaining and interesting they are at 7:30 in the morning. This has now evolved to sharing 2 ideas. One person who is randomly chosen and one person who volunteers to share a revision strategy.
We have just recently gone through ALL the staff (randomly) and rather than going through a second cycle I have revamped the day to Triple Tuesday. Staff have to group together (voluntarily) in threes where there are at least 2 different departments represented. Each group then decides on a focus e.g. effective starters. This then becomes the focus for the week for the entire secondary school and the three staff involved also share ideas associated with that focus and a small checklists to refresh the importance. With 2 different departments represented this should ensure that the ideas are cross curricular and not subject specific.
On of the hardest tasks has been measuring the impact of the strategies which is reliable and valid. I have sent out a staff survey via Google Forms where they describe the impact of the various strategies which they have had in the classroom. This has been interesting as you gain an insight into the kind of strategies that have made a difference which I suppose will now help to further embed a positive culture and ethos. The second evaluation method is based on Thomas Guskey’s model of Evaluating Professional Development. This is based on; the learning made by the staff member, the additional support/change needed from the school, the impact of staff’s use of new skills/behaviour and the student’s outcome which is then followed up 6 weeks later to test the real impact or see if it is just another flash in the pan idea but soon forgotten. This is by no way the perfect evaluation model but when browsing over the data, it does give a good picture on the range of quality of CPD including external provision which appears to be working and perhaps needs to be focused on to sustain the enthusiasm.
My intention was to start small and build up the CPD provision for the school. For me getting staff to understand the OK Plateu shared by Alex Quigley – read here and doing some self-reflection has been key. And most people agreed with the concept but getting staff out of their comfort zone and taking risks is a bigger challenge than first thought. Changing the attitude of what CPD ‘used to be’ to now what ‘effective CPD is’ will certainly be my challenge for the remainder of the year and the next I suspect. But reading the feedback it is appearing to be not a lack of desire or will but actually sustaining the enthusiasm as it gets lost amongst all the other newly introduced processes, pressures, deadlines and polices. For me collaboration has been vital. In an international setting, we are not bombarded so much with the huge CPD advertising and therefore external courses are not as widely available, which is not a bad thing as it encourages me to use the expertise within the school. For the future, I would like to see the secondary school become more involved with research and enquiry based practices. With the Lead Practitioner’s course, we have members of staff who is currently working through this course and would be an ideal opportunity to lead others through this action research process. CPD is not yet a central part of the school system for various reasons. We do not have allocated time for INSET training and therefore building that all important time capacity is much needed. How we do this could be through being creative with the curriculum and continue persevering with trying to personalise professional learning, develop independent enquiry in the hope to sustain the engagement of professional learning.