Having read the initial ThinkPiece for this module, I was immediately interested. As a Middle Leader, there have been some frustrations for me in the way that we support our staff. As a newly appointed Deputy Head in the same school, with some responsibility for Teaching and Learning, I am now in a position to implement some change.
CPD in our school largely takes the form of staff presentations in staff meetings, some external training as Twilight sessions and, if we are really lucky, the odd course. All of this takes the form of teachers being talked at, rather than teachers doing. Feedback from appraisals in the past has largely been “what do you think went well? What could you improve?” and then being told the “answers” anyway. For me, I would rather use a coaching style in these conversations. This year, during the feedback I gave for one of my appraisals, I asked the usual questions and was told “why don’t you tell me? I’m sure you have an opinion.” However, I didn’t want to give my opinion and, after a while, we managed to have a really useful conversation. As a result, this teacher went away and tried something new in her lessons, a different approach which she really enjoyed and led to far more participation for the children.
For me, the most effective forms of CPD would be: coaching, peer observations (which I have tried to implement over the last 2 years but have yet to manage it – a challenge for this year) and individual or small group R&D. Staff need to find an area which interests them to develop themselves: personal motivation needs to play a huge part in CPD. I have attended TeachMeets and used Twitter extensively for my CPD, but others are not interested in this. They need to find their own interest to develop (within the remit of the school’s SDP) which they can then introduce to the school.
Developing T&L is something which I am very excited to be involved with and am sure I will learn a great deal through this module.
Summary of practice
Having read the account of practice, there is much that I could take away from Skipton Girls’ High School. However, I am not sure that we are ready for staff-pupil collaborative learning. For us, we need to develop a staff support network first before we even consider involving the children. As a primary school, we would also have to carefully consider which children we chose to involve.
The use of the VLE for ccollaborative learning is another area which I am not sure about for our school – some members of staff actively embrace the use of ICTand do so all of the time, whereas others are fairly technophobic. One of my goals is to broaden staff use of ICT where possible, especially in their teaching, but using it for the sharing of resources would not yet be a priority for us.
Despite perhaps seeming a little negative about what I have read about the Skipton School, their coaching ethos definitely interests me. As far as I am aware, we have one trained coach in the school – as a 14 class primary with many teachers, this is clearly not enough. Coaching is something I would be interested in developing, and, if one or two others felt the same, we could easily begin to develop a more open culture of development. I have often talked about having an “open classroom” system of training: previous observations have highlighted strengths and areas for development in all staff, so we could begin to pair people up for peer observations. We would have to ensure that this was seen as a non-threatening environment – I know that some would be more open to this than others. This would need to be developed “in house” before we began to invite staff from other schools in to see what we do.
Summary of learning
This module has confirmed much of what I had already suspected in my school – that there is a great deal we could do to make professional development more effective. After reading about Hargreaves and Fullan’s 6 types of professional culture, I struggled to identify an y of them (een the negative ones). We perhaps go some way along Warren-Little’s ‘Continuum of collaboration, but certainly not as far as joint working – any collaboration is generally informal and takes the form of storytelling or asking for help and assistance.
I have thought for some time that a coaching ethos could be beneficial to our school. I am a new Senior Leader, and I feel that Clutterbuck’s observation that effective leaders spend a high proportion of time coaching others is one which will inspire me on my way to becoming a good leader. My frustration now is that we are in the school holidays – there are many ideas which I would now like to take into school and discuss with the rest of the SLT. I know that I will be given some freedom to develop my new role, and hope that coaching and enhancing the learning of others can form a big part of it.
My next steps will be:
- to review what CPD procedures and policies are currently in place;
- share reading and research around developing a coaching ethos;
- investigate the possibility of using som PPA time to go into others’ classrooms, developing more of an “open door” ethos;
- follow up on intial enquiries made about an coaching qualification;
- following appraisals inthe autumn term, identify potential support pairings;
- discuss the possibiliity of building “sharing” sessions into staff meeting time, to share problems and offer solutions and share ideas and resources.
There is a great deal that could be done in my school, but as I have just ben promotoed to DH (and the previous DH is still worrking there), I will need to introduce any new ideas slowly to avoid causing any offense or treading on toes.