#NPQSL – Leading Professional Development

typoramaHaving 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.

Next steps

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.


2015 in review

So, I’ve almost completed my first year of blogging.  I never thought I’d keep it up, but I’ve got the bug.  My aim for next year is to increase my readership further.  So, my new year’s request to you is this: please share my posts.  I promise to go back to writing more regularly,  so please pass my posts on!

Thank you.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


The new primary progress measure is a Good Thing

As ever,Michael Tidd provides a clear and simple explanation of what many may find difficult to understand.

Ramblings of a Teacher

I do my best to be fair to the Department for Education, even when I find things frustrating. (I honestly do!) I’ve given the department it’s fair share of stick, but the civil servants who work there have a difficult job and almost certainly deserve more credit than I give. And despite the complications and delays and various other issues relating to primary assessment, I think when it comes to the new progress measures for primary school, the department has got it right.

The calculations are complex, but I shall try to illustrate here why I think the new method is an improvement on the old. It is fairly closely based on the existing Value Added measure, but linked to the new scaled scores in KS2. I provide this video to illustrate my understanding of how it works… and hope that if I’ve made an error that someone at the…

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The Mystery of Blogging

There is another blogger in the family! MVNTH has joined the blogging fraternity… Please take time to read it.

MisterE Teacher

I read a post yesterday from @ictevangelist encouraging everyone to write a blog, a concept that I have always pondered but never actioned, a concept that fills me with some trepidation. I know that the majority of the internet community are unlikely to read it, and of those that do, will probably discard it as “more ramblings” but nevertheless, a challenging concept. What’s more, less than twelve months ago, @hayleyearl, my very talented wife, began blogging her musings (themusingsofateacher.wordpress.com) to some, allbeit still small, succcess. However, a few weeks ago I was told, during a professional conversation, by a person I have the upmost respect for, that I am outspoken and needed to consider my outlet. This morning, having pondered @ictevangelist’s post and advice on the web regarding blogging, that the publishing of a blog (publicly or privately) was both cathartic and rewarding, on the proviso that the…

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Half-term-days-off Solidarity

During my usual holiday visit to see all of my grandparents today, my Nan said to me, “It must be lovely having a week off.” Hands up, teachers, how many of you have heard this in the last few days?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful for the time off us teachers get: no other job gives quite so much holiday time, or so regularly, but I’m not sure it can all be called ‘time off.’ So far this week, I have been very good, having not yet touched the pile of tests that need marking or the mammoth pile of literacy books that need assessing. Nor have I planned my literacy or guided reading for the first week back: all jobs that need doing before next Monday. Neither have I begun to break the back on redeveloping my assessment system, worked out how to transfer assessment information from SIMS to Target Tracker or written the remaining assessment sheets that need doing. I have sent a few emails, and have a few more to send, but I have deliberately given myself a break before tackling the heavy stuff. But does it work? Not really. I’ve spent the last 4 evenings thinking about when I am going to do each of these jobs and mentally pacing myself. I’ve had constant (potential) assessment systems whirling round in my brain (possibly more about those in a day or two, you lucky people!), and I’ve had the continuous feeling of guilt over not having done any school work since 4.30 on Friday afternoon.

But, we need a break, and for many teachers, it needs to be a conscious decision to take one. Given the chance, we could easily fill the vast majority of our holidays with planning, marking, making resources, sending emails, writing action plans and adding to to-do lists. I’ve been there (see my previous post), and it’s not a healthy place to be. No doubt I’ll get to the end of the week and be flapping because I’ve left everything too late, but for the time being (well, at least until tomorrow!) I’m going to be remaining school work free. I hope that you’ll all be putting down your highlighters, stickers and stampers and join me in some half-term-days-off solidarity.


The power of Twitter

So today, I set myself the challenge of writing something meaningful.

I thought long and hard, and settled on thinking about how Twitter has changed my way of teaching.  My lovely husband, who is a very-nearly teacher, often says he wants to get into Twitter, but just doesn’t quite get how to get into it. So here goes: my Twitter sales pitch.

This time last year, I was on maternity leave.  Being the conscientious teacher that I am, I would regularly check my work emails and read the minutes of staff meetings, and one day, a colleague mentioned using Twitter.  Being a curious soul, I thought I’d have a look.  I’d already set up an account, used for useful things such as stalking my teen obsessions (Phillip Schofield!), harassing Radio 2 DJs by asking for requests, and generally looking up the hashtags that seemed to flash up on lots of trendy programmes.  So, all in all, I hadn’t been particularly overwhelmed.

However, I thought I’d give it a go.  I looked up my colleague and started following lots people from her list, and suddenly, a whole new world of information started to open up to me.  Of course, some of them I stopped following, but my list just keeps growing, and I have already found so many people to enthuse, support and inspire me.

In the few short months that I was away from school, so much seemed to have moved on, and I could have easily been left behind.  People like @Lisa_Learnpad, @ICTEvangelist and @ICT_MrP constantly give me new ideas and advice for how to use technology in the classroom. I’ve been introduced to Learnpads and Padlets, QR codes and Augmented Reality (although I haven’t used that one yet!), all of which were a foreign language to me. Others, like @MichaelT1979 and @jpembroke help to bring some sense and practicality to the minefield that is Assessing Without Levels. They help to keep me one step ahead of the game – documents that are forwarded to me from my head and the LA advisor are already in my files, thanks to Twitter. I’m sure the staff at school are fed up of hearing me bleating on about yet another idea I have found from the internet, but I’m not ashamed of that.  I’m proud that, after 15 years of teaching, I can still get excited and enthusiastic about my job.

Of course, with idealism there is always a realistic downside.  There are many, many fantastic ideas out there which I would love to implement in school, but I just don’t have the authority.  Yet. Others I don’t have the space or the resources for. There are lots of brilliant ideas which I think would terrify the staff if I tried to introduce them (such as @ICT_MrP’s QR code lesson objectives), but that I can’t implement in my own classroom without it being a whole school approach. What I need is an SLT ally: someone who I can get on side with these fantastic initiatives and who can then help me to roll them out. So, while I work on finding myself a Twitter friend, I’m just going to keep on being excited by all the fantastic stuff I stumble across each day, and keep putting it into my own classroom practice. And for all of you fantastic Tweachers out there with the brilliant ideas, thank you, thank you thank you… please don’t stop the Tweeting!