I am a huge advocate of coaching in schools and believe it to be the best way to bring about genuine and long lasting school improvement. When coaching others and discussing a particular issue I will often ask, what does perfect look like in this situation? We can then discuss solving the problem and work backwards in putting together steps to achieve the desired solution.
So from a Leader of Teaching and Learning perspective, what does perfection look like for me in school? My answer to this is quite simple perfection means that the students in our care get a consistently good to outstanding education and that every member of staff shares my passion for their own professional learning.
Over the course of the past few weeks, I have shared ideas with, and set out a plan with, the rest of the senior leadership team as to how we think we should best drive our school forward with Teaching and Learning.
Firstly, the most exciting innovation I have seen in recent times is the much under rated revolution that is currently happening on Twitter. It is a marvellous tool for CPD and so full of inspirational tweachers selflessly sharing their ideas. As a school, we have made it a priority to drive forward ‘Martini CPD’, professional development which is available to us ‘anytime, anyplace, anywhere’. This also includes continuing to develop our T&L Blog, ‘From the sandpit..’, to add to our T&L toolkit and weekly T&L tips.
We are also very excited that the ‘Teach Meet’ phenomenon has reached Dubai and encourage staff to attend the UAE’s Teachmeet, SPARK (Sharing pedagogy and refining knowledge). We are pencilled in to host our first SPARK event during October 2013.
Clearly sharing best practice and collaboration between staff are the way forward in bringing about school improvement, so we have designed our CPD programme ‘Share, Learn, Inspire 2013-2014’, so that we also make best use of in house expertise and thoroughly embed a coaching culture within school. You can view an animation I have made about our forthcoming CPD programme here.
From this academic year we have included Teaching and Learning ‘Hub’ meetings onto our calendar. These are 1 hr meetings once every half term. Staff are divided into cross curricular/ cross phase groups of approx. 20 people. During these meetings staff will attend a workshop/ discuss a specific aspect of pedagogy. The following week they will commit to trialing a particular strategy during ‘WOW’ week (watching others work). Staff will be buddied up and carry out a peer observation during this time. Our first topic for the first meeting in September is going to be “stretch and challenge”, a focus on the Gifted and Talented. Other focuses for future meetings will develop as we assess what staff needs are as we go along.
We have also decided to appoint approximately 16-20 staff as ‘Leaders of Learning’. These staff will deliver the T&L Hub meetings and be trained in specialist coaching. One of our aims is that CPD comes from the middle and that it is a shared responsibility. You can read more about this on a previous Blog post, ‘Leading a learning community from the middle’.
We are also really keen to establish a closer and more formal Teaching and Learning partnership with a small cluster of schools in Dubai (ideally 3-5). In the first year this would involve us sharing a training day with all of the schools on one day. You can read in more detail about the vision for this by reading my open letter to other UK schools in Dubai here.
As a school we are really excited about the forthcoming academic year, we move into a brand new school in September and the above plans we have formulated, we feel hold us in really good stead for driving school improvement forward 2013-2014 and beyond.. for the benefit of our students.