Tonight’s ukedchat prompted me to think about a really powerful model of professional development we introduced at my last school. The school was in special measures when I took up the post of headteacher (my first – I figured there was only one way to go!) We came out of the category early and I was keen to keep up the impetus that saw us make such rapid gains in a short space of time. We got involved in a project around thinking skills with a neighbouring school and this gave us a strong focus as we moved forward however it was the summer research project that I want to talk about here.
The Deputy and I felt that getting staff to engage in a short piece of research would be a great idea and hugely benefit staff individually and collectively. We knew from observations and discussions, and the range of information we had from HMI the individual strengths and weaknesses of teachers so we looked at a range of books, journals and online support to find something bespoke to each teachers current needs. We then met with each of them individually and agreed their personal area of research. We collapsed some inset days to give time for everyone to work on their project; they read articles, discussed their research and we bought them each a book on their chosen area. We asked that when they returned after the summer break they give a presentation on their research. The first staff meeting in the September was given over to our first ‘researcher’ to share for 10 minutes their findings – it was as simple and straightforward as that.
We didn’t ask for handouts, or insist on presentations but to our delight that first staff meeting contained both. It set the scene for the following few weeks of staff meetings when, one by one each teacher shared their findings in similar ways. We covered a range of areas in those sessions and really developed professionally in that first half term. Did the research have lasting impact? I believe it helped staff as practitioners and benefitted the children in the classrooms. It also increased professional dialogue as teachers who hadn’t really engaged in a high level of educational discourse suddenly felt empowered to do so. This approach to CPD really helped the school move forward, it was a powerful model that was very simple to execute and had a lasting impact on the practice of all involved. What more could you ask for?