The idea of trust and profession go together like a horse and carriage. Doctors, lawyers… teachers?
I was talking to a colleague this week whose role involves arranging CPD in their school – we shall call them Tony. Tony was telling me that he really wanted to increase the amount of time on INSET days and during twighlight sessions that could be spent as a department implementing the training they had received. Tony’s idea was that they should have personalised input on areas they had identified as needing support on before going back to their departments to plan collaboratively. He took his plans to SLT and was told “That won’t work. How will we know if they are actually doing anything? They will have to spend the session working in the hall. And make sure you take a register in every session in case people don’t turn up.” On hearing this my heart sank. This is at a time when teachers are giving up their weekends and evenings to arrange and attend their own Teach Meets and conferences. At a a time when they are reading and writing blogs, creating, collaborating and sharing resources freely on Google Drive and Drop Box. Weak leadership like this and a lack of trust is seriously undermining our profession.
I always feel very lucky to work at my school when I hear stories like Tony’s.
Last week we had an INSET day and the day was almost entirely planned and delivered by classroom teachers who were trusted to organise it as they saw fit. I feel very privileged to have been part of that team. We decided that in the morning we would run three sessions. For two of these sessions people signed up based on areas they wanted to work on and which fitted with our school’s Pillars of Teaching and Learning (Challenge, Feedback, Independence and Engagement). The third session was time set aside to read the books in our CPD library, visit blogs that had been recommended or that they had discovered and share and discuss what they had found (check out #HCCbuzzroom on Twitter for a taste of what we liked and shared). The afternoon was given over to planning excellent lessons based on what they had learnt that morning.
I think this shows great trust from our SLT. There are not many schools I have heard of that are happy to support teachers spending their time sitting and reading. I think it also shows a faith in their own leadership as they are confident that we are pulling in the same direction and share a vision of what the school should and could be.
This is not an isolated example of where I think our school is getting it right in terms of trust and CPD. This year all staff had the opportunity to have an additional hour of non-contact time once a fortnight added to their timetable to spend collaborating with their colleagues in small groups. This hour can be spent sharing and developing good practice, reading blogs and articles, looking at data analysis – having those professional conversations about teaching and learning we otherwise struggle to find time for.
On top of this we had the opprtunity to have a second hour of non-contact time added to take part in an innovation team looking at and leading on a particular area of the school’s priority for this year (boy’s achievement, pupil premium, literacy, pedagogical practice). So that is an hour every week there on the timetable when we are trusted to develop our own practice. No one is checking up on what we are doing. There is no register. No one is asking us to fill in a form to justify our time. Why would they need to? We are professionals.
Just as an aside. I work in a Local Authority comprehensive. Poor Tony? As a part of a flashy multi-academy trust.