‘Why pamper life’s complexities when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat?’ asks Morrissey in The Smiths’ ‘This Charming Man’. How is this relevant, you may be asking, to a post about a day of CPD at a school in Edgware? Stay with me…
So often, we are treated to CPD which is ‘bolted on’, ‘parachuted in’, brought in from the periphery to tell us how to be better. It’s as if others have the answer to this riddle called ‘teaching’; they pop in, get paid (a lot!) and wow us with their solutions to our problems. I know that’s potentially an overly reductive view of CPD and I hasten to add that not all such sessions are dreadful. However, see what Rachael Stevens (@murphiegirl) has to say about teachers’ responses to CPD here: http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/oct/11/observation-classroom-teaching-development-schools
So, it seems to me that sometimes we do ‘pamper life’s complexities’ by making things seem more difficult than they are, by looking for a BIG solution to something that might not even really be a problem. We throw money at things, indulging in ‘external expert’ CPD because we’re following a pattern that’s been in existence for as long as we can remember.
Today, I had a fantastic CPD experience. In a school. It was about sharing good practice. Right next to me, in neighbouring classrooms and nearby schools, there’s learning to be done. If pedagogy is my craft then so is it someone else’s, someone else who operates in the classroom every day of their working life, doing the things that I’m likely to be doing, albeit in a variety of contexts.
Listening to the staff at Canons talking about their experiences of the Pedagogy Leaders programme (read about it here: http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/jun/14/pedagogy-staff-initiative-teaching-learning-project) was simply invigorating. Because it’s there and it works and the people involved came in to the room and told us about it face-to-face, it *is* a reality which may just be transferrable into my school, or yours. Getting out and about on a Learning Walk, seeing those ideas in action and interacting with students & teachers who clearly have learning at the top of their agendas certainly was the ‘Demonstration’ phase of today’s ‘Active Learning’ cycle.
And what I *really* liked was the ‘Impact’ session – what a fantastic idea! Why doesn’t more CPD take us down the route of showing us tangible evidence of ‘how it works’? Maybe because the people delivering it never stay long enough to see what happens? Harsh, I know. But possibly true? Investigating the soft, medium and hard impacts of the project means I feel so much more confident about ‘selling’ this to my school now. Not in its entirety, of course – it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach and neither should it be.
So, if you get the opportunity to sit alongside a teacher or group of teachers who have already started driving the bus, get in and check out the upholstery rather than calling in someone to pimp your ride for you.
Thank you, Canons, for a superb day.