Monday INSET- Effective or just a non-uniform day?

By John Dexter.

INSET or as I like to call them non-uniform days. Over my teaching career I have done a lot of CPD – has it made me a better teacher? Yes I hope so, certainly some has challenged and made me change practice, hopefully for the better but a lot, especially some “done to me” hasn’t made much difference and I have sat thinking of all the jobs I have to do or would prefer to be doing.

goat

Not more INSET please not more

Heck now I’m a head I can’t moan any longer but I can evolve our systems and CPD programmes and look for something better. One of the first areas I wanted to develop was CPD, we have great teachers and I love hearing their ideas so how do we capture that, mould it with current ideas and good practice even academic research? That was the challenge and I just didn’t have time so with a new deputy we set about working on a project. Huge credit to him for making this work, by working out the finer details, you know how it is -he does the work I take the credit; not today it was just too exciting. But let’s go back to the plans:

1.Get some topics we think the school could, should, might consider or be interested in, may or may not be on the development plan (summer 2015) BUT we are interested in.

2.Get some teachers who are enthusiasts on these topics or maybe their own topics?

3.Pay them – sadly no, no budget for that but maybe buy some time?

4.Give them a nice title “directors of learning” – 6 get going

5.Get them to choose a topic start some research/reading etc and tell the staff body about their projects Sept INSET day. Draw in a few other potential enthusiasts.

6.This becomes a learning community and the rule is to share the ideas, work out what might really make a difference in a classroom, try it; YES try it in a class in our school with our pupils and be preparing for a February INSET to share with rest of staff.

7.Meet them support them, get resources if necessary, bring in colleagues etc

gold-stars

”Directors of Learning” – gold stars

S0 in September through to February these little communities slogging away, reimageading about teaching and learning aspects of their topics, discussing with each other and other colleagues and then, that final rule they must try any ideas in their class, and do a bit of proper research and get feedback from staff, from observers, from pupils. [ and of course still teaching every day!]

So that was all going well but next up not just piloting with in the classroom sharing with that most critical of audiences – your colleagues – feels like the worst lesson observations ever.

Here were our topics

1.It’s not personal – How does student voice impact on teaching and learning

2.Don’t say please – Practical positive approaches to classroom behaviour management, using light touch and considering what to do for the “not very OK” pupils

3.Using data to inform day to day teaching and learning – instead of just looking at exam results and working out what did and didn’t happen, can those systems help us understand day to day interventions? can they help with new specs where we are in the dark a little about grading?

4.Why are questions worth thinking about? Are we still stuck on closed questions? Can we move the discussion on and will this lead to deeper learning?

5.Flipped learning – what impact can flipping the resource have on classroom time? How can we do it, what are the benefits and how might technology help us?

6.What does Independent Learning look like in the classroom? – a KS5 focus considering how we might use a) research b) group work)teaching methods and d) assessment to create more resilient independent learners.

Then today we had out INSET day whereby each community led a 45 minute workshop, repeated twice – Three slots for staff, and then followed by discussions in departments, what did you learn about, what might work in your subject. It wasn’t about throwing out old practice it was about tweaking it, was about marginal gains instead of marginal losses for all of us in the classroom. It was occasionally a reminder that praise does work and I need to bring that back a bit ….especially with my year ….

Don’t you love that buzz when colleagues from different subjects with different experience just get enveloped in the issues, jotting ideas and enthusing. Picking each others brains. “This worked in my class in our school, it made my practice better and their learning enhanced” “OK might try that”. Absolutely no need to worry about the gigantic lesson observations going on in your workshops – listen to the big buzz, the chatter, the concentration the “loving it” moments.

I do wish we had another INSET day tomorrow to get it all written into SoW or lesson plans but I know our staff, they’ll be trying stuff. Oh and follow up? Well from here we hope to try those ideas and feedback results to dept or pastoral teams, we have promised our Directors we will do that.

Next up we need to think if we can

  • continue the same topics and bring more effective learning
  • move to new topics.
  • bring in some more Directors
  • check out how staff are doing embedding the ideas
  • maintain a manageable workload but be more effective in the classroom

This blog was originally posted on John’s blog, mrjdexter.com, you can view the original post here.

The School of Education takes no institutional position and all authors’ views are their own.

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