Professional development opportunities, as in courses run by external bodies, have become fewer and fewer, as a result of ever-shrinking CPD budgets. This means that teaching staff have had less opportunities to attend courses that will help them develop their practice. As a Head of Faculty, if such opportunities arise, then I have tried to get one of the team out before taking the opportunity myself. This means that since joining my academy, a year and a half ago, I haven’t been out to develop myself as a teacher or a leader and, in terms of moral, this is a hit that has had an impact on my wellbeing and moral as a member of staff.
After all, I am a feeder. I feed off positivity and energy. Sometimes, in my professional working week this can be lacking. During certain dark periods this can also be lacking. To avoid, total slips into depression, I have tried to combat this with things that inspire and motivate me. I remember for three to four years, in December, I would always attend the TES resources show so that I could participate in a seminar led by the Independent Thinking Company who would pick my miserable self up and spit out the most energetic, enthusiastic practitioner anyone could meet. Attending this seminar was enough to feed me and keep me going for the remainder of that long, long term – so much so that it became a necessity. Yet opportunities like this have all but dwindled and it is noticeable in terms of staff morale and well being.
Having not been out of school for a year and a half, this week I have had the opportunity to visit two different schools on two different days to share practice, listen, learn and network to enhance what we do at the academy I work in.
Below is a reflection on the days themselves and the impact this has had on me as teacher and as a leader.
I loved visiting school A, so much so that upon my return to my own school, I became incredibly emotional.
The school was running its second INSET day on the new curriculum. The opening speech by a member of the SLT was captivating and it was immediately clear that the school, as a whole, had done a lot of thinking about life without levels. This was then developed during a literacy focused session which gave me the opportunity to see the model applied to my own curriculum area which excited me even more. I then joined the department for some of their meeting before attending a session on Accelerated Reader with some members of the school and an HMI. I was inspired by how they had developed AR and the exemplary practice that was going on and the benefits that this had already reaped for them. After lunch I re-joined the faculty and observed members of the department, working together, to create the long term plan for the new KS5 specifications.
Impact on me:
1) New curriculum planning needs to begin now. I emulated their meeting with the new KS4 specifications the following day and the team worked brilliantly together to create the first draft of our long term plan.
2) The school shared with me their brilliant 7 year curriculum overview and I am excited that my SLE is going to come over and work with my 2ic on the re-draft of our KS3 curriculum. I am excited by the mastery curriculum I have been developing and cannot wait to see my SLE and my 2ic continue to develop this over the course of the next few months, alleviating this pressure off of me.
3) Accelerated Reader – I came away feeling inspired by the package and on Wednesday was able to meet with our new Literacy Co-Ordinator to discuss some of the brilliant things I had seen which he has already started to address.
I attended School B with my Vice Principal.
The day started by meeting the Head and Associate Headteacher who led an engaging meeting about various different aspects of our work. We then conducted a learning walk of the school which was incredibly calm and the buildings were incredibly spacious. After break, I went and observed a year 10 lesson with one of the heads of faculty and was so impressed with the students’ work and their supportive nature towards each other. We then met to discuss curriculum structures which I found fascinating as I believe that the school’s curriculum model was inspiring which energised me once again. I then met with a staff member to discuss Accelerated Reader and we talked through the diagnostics and early literacy tests which proved to be another useful tool.
Impact on me:
1) Establishing a whole school culture is critical. The school had the most wonderful displays that documented everything that the students had participated in. Everything. This revealed what a busy and vibrant school it is. In addition, the core values that they hold dear are everywhere and transmitted through everything that they do.
2) The curriculum model is exceptional and a lot of careful thought and planning has gone into it. I want us to consider our interventions and literacy approach much more carefully, ready for September.
3) Accelerated Reader – enhanced the ideas I have for the programme we will run and some targeted interventions we will introduce through tutor / library lesson which I am really excited about.
4) Confidence of our students – which requires slightly more thought.
I have been overwhelmed by everything I have seen this week and enthused by other teacher’s / leader’s passion. It has brought me out of what has been a tough, and at times, somewhat emotionally challenging year and a half and re-energised me. With the support of my SLT and my SLE, who is my new guardian angel, embedding lots of great stuff – in terms of curriculum and regular practice is going to be incredibly exciting.
However, what I have loved most about the two schools I have seen, is that neither have been in a rush to get things right. This has helped me immensely this week. Currently, too much of what I have done has been in the present, the day to day, reactionary (because of what I have needed to get done) and as a result, often without enough consideration. Therefore, the pledge I have made to myself (and seen come to fruition this week) is that besides year 11 gaining solid results and ensuring the other year groups are on track, not one new thing is going to be introduced. Instead, my efforts, time and focus is going to be on researching, creating and developing a mastery curriculum and policies and practice that will support this, ready for September 2015. I am slowing everything down even more to ensure that what we do, is done right and it is done well. I am also going to do this with the help of my SLE and some incredibly enthusiastic and passionate teachers who I have had the pleasure of networking with over the past few weeks and who I am fortunate enough to have in my team.
So, what have I learnt this week? That the best CPD you can offer yourself is to get into other schools, network with our departments, listen to everything that they have to say to you, soak it up and take one small step at a time to ensure that what you do is right for you, and more importantly, right for the students in your care.
A wonderful and fabulous week.