I love learning new things to use in my classroom and to improve the learning opportunities and experience of my class and the children my school. A week ago I hosted my 3rd TeachMeet Essex along with the wonderful Tom Sherrington @HeadGuruTeacher. It was a great event with some amazing, insightful and witty educational thinkers.
But away from events like TeachMeets, professional development is usually very different in schools. It is usually focused on what are felt to be the needs of the whole school to aid progression with the school development/improvement plan to improve the teaching and learning experience. Very noble. It is often also deadly dull and often doesn’t differentiate to an individual teacher’s needs and situation. These insets and training sessions tend mark the implementation of a big policy change and thus the way I teach.
I happen to like what I term ‘blue sky’ professional development which I encounter at events like TeachMeets and on Twitter, which is not necessarily focused on my particular needs, but offer insight in to how other educators do things and sharing the best that they do. I can choose want is useful and disregard what is not of interest. This provide what the Olympic GB team termed ‘incremental improvement’ – teachers learning and improving by tiny steps which quickly add up.
But is this personalised ‘buffet’ possible or even desirable in schools. I believe the answer to both is yes, but it is important that there is a conducive environment which allows and values individuals shaping their own CPD opportunities beyond the overarching framework – an environment which is lacking in many schools, where the minutiae of daily teaching is impose upon teachers.
Teachers need time to reflect and make any new knowledge, tricks and skills. They need time to digest, internalise and to make it their own. Teachers also need time to explore ideas for themselves and discussions on Twitter hones one’s thoughts which a wider range of educators.
Schools need to celebrate and draw upon the unique talents and different experience of its teachers and wider staff. Collaborate and share what brilliant ideas and techniques are being used in your school. You may be surprise what talents are hidden in plain sight.
Look out into the blue sky once in a while and explore possibilities from over the horizon.