Sharing paper based resources
This school is an 11-16 Specialist Business & Enterprise School; with a history of low GCSE outcomes. The 3 years prior to the project had seen the school work in soft federation with 2 other local schools to develop pedagogy, improve behaviour and raise aspirations, with the school at that point having close to 50% of leavers achieving C and above in Maths & English. Data management had delivered some of this jump, but the next leap in progress needed to come from engaging pupils with exciting lessons and consistent pedagogy across the department. To do this the staff would be required to work even better as a team, collaboratively developing activities to deliver outstanding learning.
Aims of project
We knew we had the talent in-house to develop outstanding lessons and needed to work better as a team to develop a range of ideas into workable lessons and sequences that could be delivered by all staff consistently and to a high standard. Our short term objective was for each class to be exposed to an outstanding lesson each week. This project involved developing paper-based card games, sorting cards into Sometimes, Always or Never Categories.
CPD activities planned and undertaken
The CPD was focused on delivering our department's first effective resource sharing session. The department consists of Head of Department, Deputy Head of department, four MPS Teachers, one HLTA and 2 ITT students. Departmental meetings had been occur once every 3 - 4 weeks and had been focused on administrative / exam / streaming topics or SLT focused subjects and rarely covered actual teaching and learning in the classroom. Limited informal resource sharing occurred across the department,generally consisting of lesson plans being emailed etc.
I am not the HoD, in fact I have the least teaching experience across the department so my focus was very much on my management style of selling the concept. The common complaint of the department when using others' resources is that they don’t work for their style or class, so I was determined to present a topic area that covered many levels. From previous Masters research I had already established that lesson plans were not the key in sharing resources, it was the resource itself, its operation and key AfL questions that were important to seeing learning in the classroom.
The topic I presented was a 'sometimes, always or never' card sort on probability statements. This resource gave plenty of opportunity for discussion and scope for differentiation.
The CPD session lasted for 30 minutes. Focussing first on selling the idea of spending 30 minutes looking at one person’s resource and developing it to work across the department; the idea being to spend 30 minutes to develop 18 hours worth of outstanding learning. Following that, the department were put into pairs to do the card sort exercise and then questions linked to it, from general queries to discussions around levels of the card statements and how to develop the resource. We then worked together to create more cards at different levels and alter some of those I'd created, making the activity a shared resource rather than my resource.
Fundamental to this process is that the resource being presented is not one that relates to a topic that most staff have just completed, but relates to a topic that most staff will be completing in the coming weeks. The focus is on other staff making use of the resource and find the benefit, that way they will put effort into both their presentations and into the 30 minute session. If the topic covered is not going to be used until next year there will be limited buy in from staff. From that perspective it was important to spend the final 5 minutes discussing what topic was going to be looked at next time so the presenter could look into it and other staff could plan the gap in their own sequence of lessons.
Success of the CPD approach used
Because the topic was coming up on everybody’s scheme of work the resource was actively taken on board. Being able to spend the time using the resource ensured all staff knew how the resource worked; more importantly though by discussing the AfL questions all staff had an outstanding resource and had the potential to engage learners.
Students have commented on enjoying this style of lessons; this process allows for 18 hours of these lessons to occur in the department each week which is great news.
Evaluation of CPD effectiveness
As often occurs, the problem comes down to time. In the coming weeks I am having a meeting with our Principle to discuss ring fencing the time and prioritising the teaching and learning over other school wide CPD.
Future CPD plans
This process works well, the challenge is to maintain the momentum into the New Year and prevent the process from becoming stale.