Firstly, my apologies that I haven’t updated in a long time. This began as a lockdown project and fell very easily onto a back burner. Over the past few months I’ve struggled to get available time and inspiration to line up, but here is the product of a few weeks of mulling things over. I’m aware that there are a lot of blogs about pedagogy and specific tips, so at the risk of dropping into an already saturated area, this is hopefully the start of a new series:
CPD is a tricky thing to manage on a whole school level. You have a whole staff to consider from novice teachers that are keen to learn to hardened veterans who have been at the chalk face for decades and (claim to) have seen every technique or practice come and go. I was given the task of preparing a weekly 15 minute input for staff based with the idea of giving teachers some quick wins. In this blog I’m hoping to explain what the ‘Quick Wins’ series is about, why we run it and, in subsequent blogs, some of the material that I’ve covered.
Quick wins is a series of very short CPD sessions that look to deliver a short burst of information. The information in these sessions is designed to be instantly useful for any teacher so the key is to keep it short, sharp and very concise. It’s delivered via google meet so that as teachers are preparing for their day we aren’t bringing them across the site to a central location but we are trusting them as professionals to tune in and focus as much as they need to. While the original idea was that staff had the freedom to join the meet individually where and how it suited them, now, teachers are meeting in departments and watching the breifing and discussing together and using the chat to ask questions.
Generally speaking, after a full day of teaching most teachers are tired and overloaded with short tasks, managing detentions or clubs, or they have a million other things that they are thinking about. By having a short session in the morning the hope is that people can focus better, are more likely to take on the tips or ideas that are being delivered and can also put them into practise the very next lesson. All of the advice and tips that I deliver in these sessions come out of either internal peer lesson observations or feedback from other schools in the MAT and external partners that look at learning and teaching. In this way, I know that I’m speaking directly into some of the areas for development of the whole school.
Importantly, Quick Wins is not about starting whole school initiatives. I’m absolutely clear when presenting that this isn’t some edict from above, and that we aren’t looking to see this in every lesson all of the time from now on. At its most simple it is me saying to my colleagues ‘here’s what works for lots of teachers including myself. Here’s a link to a blog or article which expands on this technique. Try it and see if it works for you. ‘ I think the dynamic is helped by the fact that I am not a member of SLT, although I am a lead practitioner. I have the space to research these ideas, and I’m definitely reccomending them, however I am not there to demand them. The most important thing is tone. I know that the majority of teachers in the school will be doing most of what I am telling them already. That being said, when we put a name to a technique we get a shared language and a joint framework where we can all discuss how we do something. Further, once we start making our good practice concious as opposed to innate, it makes it far easier to do more of those things and develop them more effectively.
The main difficulties are that due to the short sessions and the need to avoid overloading the audience, I have to aggresively chunk the topics. This means that I am ruthless with what gets included and what gets left out of a session and also a run of information on a theme can take many weeks. Each session involves a very brief recap of the previous one before offering anything new so the challenge is in really drilling down into the heart of a technique or idea and only sharing key points. To compensate I rely on staff using the slide deck that I send out with links to access any relevant further information on the sections that they are finding most useful.
Overall, attendance on these sessions is very good despite the fact that we don’t check up on people, take any registers or see them face to face during the presentation. We even record the breifings and share them with staff afterwards. Feedback has been good and teachers tell me in the staff room or in the corridor that they have used bits and pieces from the briefing and whether they found them effective. I can also use that feedback to inform the next session or run of sessions.
Despite the limitations on what gets included in each session my plan is to lean into this structure and create a section of short blogs taking 3-5 minutes to read. Please watch this space for updates on the ‘Quick Wins’ series.