This weekend, the Teacher Development Trust published a report, entitled "Developing Great Teaching." Our Principal sent me the link to the report just as I was about to publish yesterday's post about our Pathways to Excellence CPD Programme for 2015-16. As a result, I decided to check our programme against the report's recommendations. However, I realised that including this in my original post would have made it overly long so I'm publishing it separately here instead.
The report is divided into ten sections, so I’ve outlined my thoughts below using the same headings. I've attempted to identify what I believe to be some of the strengths of our model and some safeguards we'll be putting in place to try to avoid potential stumbling blocks. As the year goes on, we'll return to these to evaluate the impact of the programme as well as how effectively we've stuck to our principles.
The report suggests that a substantial development of an aspect of teaching and learning takes at least two terms, and more often a year, to put in place. At times, it's easy to think you're ahead of where you actually are. At others, you can miss seeing some people’s successes in implementing the model you're establishing. We began putting our Teaching and Learning model into practice last September. It is and has to be a sustained focus as we are not flitting to a different model. It's really important to us that any alterations to it are adaptations rather than wholesale rewrites. This will help us embed it over time.
In my previous post about our Pathways to Excellence, I mentioned that we will be having more substantial, two hour monthly sessions as well as our weekly briefings. These monthly meetings will help to generate the necessary sense of rhythmic focus which the report identifies as being important. A shift from weekly to fortnightly coaching, where it’s right to do so, and an increase in the number of coaches should make the coaching workload and the rhythm more manageable. We will be working on ensuring that our methods of gauging the impact of coaching on students are more robust.
Designing for participants’ needs –
The range of options available to staff and a greater sharing of information with Curriculum Leaders will support better bespoke provision for our teachers. In addition, the inclusion of a subject knowledge audit will feed into the design of Faculty Planning time.
Creating a shared sense of purpose –
The continuation of our Teaching and Learning Model will help with this as we focus on different aspects of it through the year. The report advises that a focus on why things work as well as what does and what does not is really important and this will be a focus of our work in developing our Teaching and Learning E-Handbook.
We have a range of CPD activity types in our model and each of the activities will be aligned with our Teaching and Learning model too. We’ll need to review the impact of each of these activity types through having opportunities for staff feedback periodically.
Activities associated with effective professional development –
On each of our September Training Days and at each of the monthly events, we will ensured that there is an opportunity for the whole school focus to move into a smaller group or faculty focus, concentrating on how the training can be translated into the teacher’s own classroom. “Analysis of and reflection around the underpinning rationale, evidence and relevant assessment data” are areas to work on.
Providers of professional development and support from specialists –
We have far less of this than we used to - most of our training is provided by our own staff and this will be increasingly the case next year. Where this is happening there is and will continue to be a sound mix of training, in class support, coaching/mentoring and a focus on outcomes for students.
Encouraging effective collaboration –
I think our new model will make this more effective than it has been previously as it will be focused on problem solving and solution finding relating to different aspects of the teaching and learning model.
Leadership of Professional Development –
We have a stated vision for the CPD Programme – this will need communicating to staff and we will need to periodically return to this in order to hold ourselves to account for its delivery.
Managing and organising the programme will need to be a key focus – especially for the monthly sessions. However, inviting others to deliver parts of the CPD package where their practice has been identified as being strong will help develop their leadership.
Teacher feedback implies that we’ve led professional learning well so far fairly well. One of the biggest issues identified in the report is that of differentiating for different staff and making the package bespoke. I think the new model address some of these issues and we'll certainly be moving away from the didactic model which the report advises against.