CPD time is precious. Teachers have so many issues to address; so many things to discuss, to share, to thrash out, to reflect on – and there’s lots of strong evidence about the importance of collaborative professional dialogue in fuelling teacher development.
And yet, there are lots of barriers to schools delivering good CPD; I’ve written about this before. One of the key barriers is time. All too often, teacher CPD time feels like it is eeked out, scraped and cobbled together, begged and borrowed instead of being what it should be: a central structural spine around which professional discourse revolves. One of the things I’m most proud of introducing in my last school was a built-in CPD programme, virtually identical to the justifiably lauded programme in operation at Huntington.
Even when there is a CPD programme in place, the gold dust of CPD time can be wasted. Here’s are 10 ways this happens:
1. Extra tasks from SLT: “We’ll just get them to do the survey during their CPD session”.
2. Inefficient whole-staff gatherings; “We’ll just have a quick 10 minute briefing in the hall before they go off into departments”.
3. Extra input on yet another really important thing: “Sue just wants a quick 10 minutes on the new school trip procedures. It’s really important”.
4. People are missing: In the Y11 interventions; on central detention duty; a really important fixture; a really important parental meeting (= untouchable); the SLT have a really important meeting.
5. Robbing CPD time with procedural issues: Going through minutes; discussing the test grade boundaries; organising the book issue system.
6. Listening to Dave give his Hyper-Puppy Evangelist presentation about the latest app fad gizmo thing.
7. Talking about doing things instead of doing things: plans about plans about future actions.
8. Robbing CPD time for admin: the exam review proforma; the scheme of work layout and rota; (OK this might be the same as Number 5).
9. Scatter-gunning: Everyone chipping in their ‘really great ideas’ without any focus. Nothing moves on.
10. Flitting: Each meeting happens as if the last one didn’t. Nothing sticks or gets embedded.
The answer: Try not to do these things. Treat CPD time with the reverence it deserves and use every minute of it to develop ideas, to refine teachers’ understanding and practice in teaching, curriculum thinking and assessment, using a ‘deliberate practice’ approach: focused, sustained, sharing feedback, planning next steps, focused on specific students and their learning.