Gathering Momentum

As we near the beginning of a new school year and thoughts turn to the first few inset days that will usher in the autumn term, I am reminded of a CPD day from my first headship that was thoroughly enjoyed by staff, despite initial reservations.

The summer reading project.

My deputy and I were keen to involve staff in a quality inset day at the beginning of the school year. We wanted all teachers to feel a real sense of being an active part of the day rather than passive recipients. We believed this would give them more ownership over the experience and make the day more rewarding.

Before finishing for the summer break we bought everyone a carefully chosen book. The books were on areas of education we knew the teachers were interested in or wanted to develop in their classrooms. We sacrificed an earlier training day giving staff free time with the summer reading in mind. We asked each teacher to read their book over the six weeks and prepare a presentation for the first day back in school after the holidays. Despite some initial misgivings from one or two staff the response was fantastic. The presentations showed that everyone had really risen to the challenge. They talked passionately about what they had read and how they were going to try new ideas in their classroom as a result.

Individual teachers got a lot from their own presentations but just as much from hearing their colleagues talk with enthusiasm about their summer read. The quality and relevance of the day made it a huge success and one that enabled us to start the year on a real high.

Many thanks to @whatedsaid for prompting my memory with her post: Teachers teaching teachers!


About smichael920

Headteacher of a large primary school in North West England. Helping me to blur the distinction between work and home, I am also father of five, covering most phases of education thus giving me the lowdown from within and without. Education is about enjoying today and preparing for tomorrow. This can't be done using the tools of the past. View all posts by smichael920

9 responses to “Gathering Momentum

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  • Peter Richardson

    What a great idea – i’ll definitely be suggesting it to our Head. Do you think it would have had a better response if the staff had chosen the books? (after agreeing the area) Or would that have made the CPD less focused on school development plan issues?

    • smichael920

      Hi Pete and thanks for the feedback. I think ideally staff should choose their own books but this was during my first headship and the school had just come out of special measures. We were keen to keep the momentum going and had already identified with individual teachers the areas they needed to work on to move the school forward – based on the priorities we’d been left with. Some staff didn’t like the idea and I did wonder what the presentations would be like! I deliberately chose the most enthusiastic to go first to set the tone and that kind of won the doubters over. Without being disrespectful to the staff there, I don’t think they would have been too sure who to read so I suggested titles and authors and we kind of mutually agreed (although I know in such situations it probably more like ‘he’s the head, ok I’ll go with that then!’) If I were to do something similar now I think I’d build up to it by sharing the thinking of some key educationalists over the proceeding term and probably preparing a list ( and then suggesting to staff that if they had ideas of their own I would be open to those as well). It is definitely something I would recommend and it can have a huge impact on both the practice and professional dialogue around school. If your head goes for it, I’d be interested to hear how you get on.

  • jfb57

    What a great idea! I like the idea of letting them choose as well providing there was a guide as to what could be choosen. Excellent use of IN-SET. Sends a great message that it is about learning & not a 9-5 job!

  • Oliver Quinlan

    Brilliant idea! Thanks for sharing it.

  • Sharon

    Wow! This is such a positive idea and quite inspirational. I want to work in your school.

    • smichael920

      Hi Sharon

      Thanks for the positive feedback. It’s certainly a powerful model. I’m really excited about moving forward with it, I think quite a few of us are!

      All the best, Michael

      Sent from my iPhone

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