Guest Post – Effective Collaboration of   Teaching Staff and Learning Support Assistants in the Classroom

In 2016/2017, colleagues at The Sheffield College were encouraged to participate in a Big Learning Project. A collaborative small-scale research project that would lead to the development of their practice. I’ll be sharing a few of the write-ups here and the first comes from a trio of staff who chose to work together on their project. 

They knew that teaching staff and LSAs could be working more effectively together; sharing knowledge and expertise so that each student’s learning experience could be improved. So, they set out to explore what might work.

What follows is a write-up of their journey.

By Cath Clarke, Louise Nunn and Isaac Howell

Context

This project was inspired by feedback from a staff development training event about ‘How to effectively utilise learning support assistants in the classroom.’

In the first instance, training was requested by the Staff Development team to improve communication between English and Maths Staff and Learning Support Assistants (LSAs). This was delivered on Staff Development Day in early January 2017 by Cath Clarke and Louise Nunn (English teachers) with expert guidance from Isaac Howell (SENDCO).

The training included an overview of the Specific Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Department, vocabulary associated with SEND, and effective work practices.

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Click here to view a PDF version of this poster

The intention was to give an overview of protocol and procedure when English and Maths Staff work alongside LSAs in the classroom.

On the day of the event, more than 40 LSAs came to the training session and one member of the English and Maths Department. Unfortunately, most of the English and Maths team were either delivering or were involved in other essential training. The event was supposed to run for one hour. This was too short, and the session overran significantly as it became apparent that there were so many issues and queries. This highlighted the fundamental need for specific strategic guidelines and training for SEND staff and English/Maths staff.

The key finding was a lack of understanding of roles and responsibilities as well as poor communication between academic and support staff in the classroom.

Research

In the initial stages of preparation for the training event it became apparent that expert guidance from within the SEND team was needed. Isaac Howell was approached and agreed to input on the training session. On the day of the training Steve Kelly also checked the training content to ensure it was sending the same messages that he was delivering to the wider team. This was done informally as a result of the relationships between staff but again would benefit from being part of a standardised approach.

In reading the College SEND policies there was an immediate realisation that the vocabulary and acronyms were unfamiliar and confusing. Staff were also ignorant of or confused by latest legislation changes. The only experience of this was at the start of the academic year when new Educational and Heath Care Plans were put in documents on Pro Monitor. No specific training seemed to have taken place for academic staff. When searching on the Hub – there didn’t seem to be any appropriate information.

We discovered most of the SEND acronyms by general searches on the Web – but again were confused by the meanings and definitions. Some terminology seemed to be nationally recognised across educational institutions and others were organisationally specific.

SEND is an integral part of the College’s four Cornerstones;

‘The LSA or any other support staff in a session are aware of their role and how that fits into the wider aims’ – it is essential that all staff College-wide have clarity of their roles.

Additionally, Ofsted state that for an OUTSTANDING OUTCOME-

Staff plan learning sessions and assessments very effectively so that all learners undertake demanding work that helps them to realise their full potential. Staff identify and support any learner who is falling behind and enable almost all to catch up.

This demonstrates the vital role that the SEND support team has to play in the classroom.

The Question

Following feedback from the training event, more questions were raised.

Our first question was how to improve the system and situation regarding teaching staff and LSAs working effectively together in the classroom.

The second question would naturally be –

If the teaching staff and LSAs did have a strong rapport and more effective communication, would this have a positive impact on their work?

Whatever was revealed by the question could then be carried over so that the focus was on the impact on learning for the students.

The Journey

Using the feedback given at the event – both of the academic staff attempted to follow some of the suggestions/guidance to try to improve their own effectiveness with their own LSAs in the classroom. This involved a trial experiment over a period of 6 months – January to June.

Cath Clarke had 8 lessons with LSAs in both Functional Skills English and Maths and in GCSE English. Support needs ranged from deaf learners, moderate learning difficulties, students with EHCP plans, and visually impaired students.

Louise Nunn had 4 LSAs which included support for hearing impaired students, EHCP plans, and learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Both academic tutors had LSA support for learners with Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties.

Draft guidelines following the training event were emailed to the SEND Department and Staff Development – using the suggestions from the session and the online evaluation feedback.

Both tutors followed a number of the guidelines to establish a model of good practice over the period of the experiment. Feedback was then requested from relevant LSAs on the effectiveness of this practice.

Both tutors also used Peer Observation with each other and other tutors within English and Maths – to check if the model of Good Practice worked effectively.

Model of good practice used with the aim of improving communication

  • LSAs informed on what was being covered in lesson each week.
  • LSAs given copies of lesson plans, resources and SOW.
  • Tutors and LSAs had informal and formal meetings at the start and end of lessons.
  • Updated Pro – Monitor reports/ emails to LSAs to inform decision making.
  • Tutors made aware of glossary terms and definitions to help with planning and delivery.
  • Use of technology to support effective Teaching, Learning and Assessment.
  • Increased proactivity in utilising and directing LSAs.
  • LSAs more proactive in HOW to help teaching staff with specific SEND issues.
  • Regular reflection and review of student progress outside the classroom.

Findings

Findings based on the 6 month trial were mainly anecdotal and qualitative, using feedback from LSAs and tutors’ own experiences (plus peer observations – one per tutor).

Both tutors agreed that the experience encouraged reflection on their own practice.

Tutors felt the training event had revealed a deficiency in awareness of SEND – despite being ‘experts’ in English and Maths. After the 6 month period – both tutors felt they had raised their own awareness of SEND.

Both tutors felt far more confident in directing LSAs during lessons.

Isaac Howell felt the bond between the SEND Dept and English and Maths was much better and communication had improved for those taking part.

LSAs involved felt ‘included in the lesson’ and more ‘aware of overall aims and objectives’.

LSAs felt more able to discuss issues and input in to lesson planning.

Experiences encouraged greater review of teaching practice and promotion of inclusivity.

One LSA remarked on feeling more ‘valued’ and having an impact on the sessions.

Conclusion and Recommendations

To establish cross-College agreement on comprehensive guidelines that clarify roles and responsibilities for all SEND staff and teaching staff.

To have a working party to implement these changes and cascade to the wider College.

For College to provide urgent staff training on SEND legislation, responsibilities, terminology and protocol.

To provide documentation to support the above – specifically the Vocabulary of SEND.

To provide a more coordinated approach to the student experience – ensuring all staff are aware of student needs (updated and regularly reviewed support plans etc on Pro Monitor).

More effective use of College systems especially Pro – Monitor e.g Group Profile Document with guidance for staff and recommended support for students.

For all staff to use the Model of Good Practice.

References

Ofsted (2017) Further Education and skills Inspection Handbook, Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-education-and-skills-inspection-handbook

The Sheffield College (2017) Shared Expectations of Students’ Learning, Available at: PRIVATE WEB ADDRESS

The Sheffield College (2017) The Staff Hub, Available at: PRIVATE WEB ADDRESS

 

Transforming Teacher Education – Mentoring

A few weeks ago now, I completed the ‘Transforming Teacher Education’ course with Sheffield Hallam University and the Education and Training Foundation.

Week 1- From Teacher to Teacher Educator and Observation Skills

Week 2- A Teacher Education Curriculum, Teacher Identity and Developing English and maths skills

Online session- Use of Technology

One of our online weeks covered the topics of effective mentoring and these are my notes.

Trainees’ areas for development may consist of any or all of the following-

  • Acquiring teacher expertise
  • Understanding different situations
  • Understanding how an institution works
  • Acquiring a new approach to learning
  • Overcome setbacks and obstacles
  • Adjust to change
  • Understand appropriate behaviour
  • Develop personally

Trainees have a wide spectrum of development areas as they have the dual role of being both a student and a teacher.

Tutors on teacher education courses have a more coaching than mentoring role; they’re concerned with the tasks trainees need to complete and there’s an emphasis on feedback to enable them to perform better. Tutors will typically address their short-term needs.

Mentors of trainee teachers are focussed on capability and future progression of the trainee. It’s a relationship for life, or at least has real potential to be.

Tutors and mentors should ideally be working in tandem to help a trainee to adjust personally and professionally, as well as adjust to the context and culture they find themselves in.

Developing an effective relationship

Being mindful of ego states will be helpful for all parties in a mentoring relationship.

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Image available from here

Whilst we will strive for an adult-adult relationship, there are moments we where we fall into being more of a parent, or even a child.

Communication levels

  • Common niceties
  • Sharing of information
  • Sharing of opinions and ideas
  • Sharing of beliefs and values
  • Peak rapport

The levels have to be taken one at a time- we can’t skip to peak rapport; the relationship is built over time.

In order to bring a trainee along, we need to take the step first before other trainees feel it’s do-able for themselves. Once we share opinions and ideas for instance, then other people will feel it’s safe to do so.

Clear boundaries need to be maintained. As a teacher-educator, we don’t have to share everything so we should set boundaries in advance about what we’ll choose to share.

What might the consequences be for providing too little support to a trainee? How about too much? We need to work to get the balance right

Trainees will require different levels of support at different times. We won’t always get it right but it’s important to continue reflecting to get it right

Mentor-teacher educator relationship

When discussing the progress of a trainee, it should be discussed within an evidence-based model so that it doesn’t become about their personality.

It’s vital for each party to share honest and open feedback and thoughts about the trainees so that the trainee can be supported in the best way possible by both parties.

Forming a directive and stretching environment is important and can be achieved through coaching- we know what they need to do and help them achieve it. The relationship could be more nurturing at times as we’re moving them towards a future goal. At a point of high emotion (good or bad), it’s important to provide a nurturing and empathetic, non-directive manner. Our decision about what approach to use (coaching, guiding, empathy, networking – whether directive, non-directive, stretching or nurturing), should be based on the specific context at the time.

We watch a couple of observations from a secondary school to learn about different mentoring approaches. When observing trainees, making a minute by minute account of a lesson gives you things to speak about and demonstrates a thorough approach.

Some comments are more directive (where there’s something REQUIRED). Other comments are just much more coaching and stretching to help him think.

For me, the mentoring conversations I saw could have focussed far more on a teacher’s fixed mindset but also a range of areas were discussed with no single area of development prioritised- likely to lead to trainees being unclear about what action will have the greatest impact on trainees (see my learning from Match Education here).

Feedback

Adjusting to change is as important for trainee teachers as skills and knowledge development.

Feedback is avoided- we’re often in denial. It can feel confrontational. It can also be difficult to hear- we respond emotionally but can be reluctant to share how we feel. BUT- if feedback doesn’t take pace then there is no change; no longer-term development takes place and teaching & students suffer.

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Balanced
Observed
Objective
Specific
Timely

  • Pick your moment
  • Make an accurate and short statement
  • State the general (evidenced) case
  • Say how it makes you feel
  • What you want to happen
  • Ask the trainee to respond

‘John, today, I noticed…’

‘I noticed’ can introduce evidence but also demonstrates to a trainee that we’ve been paying attention.

‘It makes me feel…’ demonstrates empathy

Share what point you want them to get to- through a coaching conversation
Do they feel like they can respond/act in the way agreed or not – if not, then what else might help?

Self-evaluation questions can help trainees to evaluate their progress

  • What do you like about what you did?
  • If you had the opportunity to teach this again, what might you do differently?
  • What help do you need from me? (Take care not to fall into a parent-child relationship)

My concern with these questions was how far they focus on impact upon students (not very). I see it as vital that student teachers, early on in their career, are able to identify the impact they have on students. This way, their continued development and actions taken to improve their practice are more closely connected to impact on students.
A model that can be used for coaching rather than mentoring within the relationship is ‘GROW’, but it may also be helpful for trainees to use as self-assessment too.

Goal – what will success look like?
Reality– What have you already tried?
Options– What haven’t you tried yet?
Wrap up– ‘So what are you going to do?’

We were then give a trainee to respond to who had emailed us about workload and how far behind he felt he was on everything.

Hi Sam, 
 
Thanks for contacting me.  
This email is an important first step in getting back on track and so I appreciate your honesty.  
 
This is not a unique situation to be in and whilst it is far from ideal, there are positive steps you can take almost straight away to feel more ‘on top’ of your workload. 

 
1- Visioning for success 

I’d like you to first of all take a step back and consider what ‘success’ looks and feels like with your workload. What point would you like to get to, by when and why? (It’s important to be realistic as well as hopeful for this activity). This exercise should get you into a state where you can see light at the end of the tunnel. It may also be helpful for you to think about times when you have felt this way before- what has lead to success in these situations? What approaches did you try that worked or didn’t?

2- Prioritise 
It will then be helpful for you to write down all the things that are causing concern for you currently and prioritise them according to the level of urgency and importance (the Covey time management matrix shared on our VLE at the start of term might be of use here). 
 
3- Reflect 
What have you tried already?- Make a list of everything you’ve tried so far (whether it’s worked or not)  

4- Problem-solve 

What else could you try?- Now make a list of anything you’ve yet to try- consider where you’re trying to get work done, how you’re prioritising it, what time of day you’re working, distraction factors, how to de-stress so that you’re in the right frame of mind to work. 

Support from me 

Hopefully you should arrive at some short-term steps you can take. If not then let me know as I have some availability tomorrow afternoon and we could work through some approaches together. 
 
Thanks, 
Hannah.

Transforming Teacher Education – Technology

This was one of the online weeks for our ‘Transforming Teacher Education’ programme and one of the easier weeks for me to engage in. It has made me consider how well our Teacher Education programmes really prepare our future teachers to develop their digital skills though. Through recent engagement with the Jisc’s guide to developing digital literacies, I question this even more.

How do you feel about using Technology Enhanced Learning in your classroom?

I am confident using technology to enhance learning. I recognise it as a tool that can encourage collaboration and creativity in particular. It allows access to lesson content that other forms of delivery prohibit for students. It is just one tool of many though and in working with practitioners, I will discourage its use for merely ticking a box. It should be used in purposeful and meaningful ways- to develop digital skills and/or engage students with learning in improved SAMR is a useful model to follow for the embedding of technology – http://www.schrockguide.net/samr.html

What are the  driving forces that would encourage you to use more technology in your teaching?

In speaking to staff about the use of technology though, we’ll often talk about employability skills and how digital skills are an ever-increasingly large part of preparing our students for work. The second thing we speak about is how it can, given a bit of time and input, save time and make work more efficient (especially when it comes to assignments and feedback). The challenges we then overcome with staff are building of confidence and skills.

Some of my favourite tech tools are (all free)-

EdPuzzle – both for flipped learning and in class to improve use of video

Google Forms– for setting quizzes outside of class and units of work for students to work through (results are automatically analysed and feedback automated too. I also use it for end of lesson reflections/reviews for students. Thinking I could input my own teaching reflections using it too…

The range of Google tools– Google sites for out of lesson resource storage and access, Google Classroom for assignment submission, Google Docs and Slides for student group collaboration and Google Communities for closed discussion spaces

Padlet– for discussion and collaboration- basically a tech replacement for sticky notes (one of my favourite tools)

Quizizz/ Kahoot/ Socrative – for in and out of class quizzes to check learning

Class Dojofor giving points to students to manage behaviour (yes- I use it with 16 year olds and adults!)

Piktochart– for my creation of resources

Adobe Spark for posts, pages and video

I could go on…

This is a good site to find new technologies from an ex-colleague @james_kieft

What are the institutional factors that enable or prevent the further use of technology in teaching, learning and assessment where you work?

For me- it’s the lack of devices- Chromebooks/tablets/laptops/PCs prevents further in-class use for me and my students as the WiFi is not overly reliable and students are reluctant to use the data on their phones. Equally, writing essays on a phone is not really the best for developing their writing skills.

 

Engagement

Over the years, I have seen engagement take a variety of forms. When I first began teaching, I was an Associate Lecturer and was therefore handed whatever bits and pieces the College I worked in at the time couldn’t get covered by other members of staff – NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) groups on employability courses, Functional Skills classes at odd times of the day or week (Saturday mornings anyone?) and on other sites. With the majority of these groups, engagement was the main purpose- re-engaging them in education, re-engaging them with English, maths and ICT, re-engaging them with learning in general (making the assumption that there had been a time when they were engaged to begin with). More often than not, engagement was about distracting these young people from the major life challenges they faced, moving them away from previous failures in education and preventing them from hurting one another (trust and relationships weren’t generally their strong suit).

Since this time, I’ve placed a high value on ‘engagement’ and its foundation is almost certainly found in positive relationships. I’ve written before about ‘The Best Teachers I Know‘. These are teachers who show genuine care for their students in the relationships they have with them; earning trust. This genuine care is apparent in their high expectations, feedback, praise and valuing of their contribution to learning.

Whilst I believe the foundation to engagement lies in relationships, there are a number of other aspects that I feel make a significant contribution and so I was compelled to discover exactly what was meant by the act of ‘engagement’.

As an English teacher, I headed to the first place I felt would be able to help me with this week’s blog for the ‘Engage for progress’ week – the dictionary.

The first definition I found was from Merriam Webster online and it stated that to engage would be ‘to hold the attention of‘. This was an unsatisfactory definition for me. There are projects I engage with that still lose my attention at times. This can be because they’re a challenge and I’m unsure how to proceed- I feel the fear. It can be because life throws competing priorities my way and I find myself in the midst of another project. Just because my attention is elsewhere, it’s not to say that these projects don’t engage me.

So, when faced with an answer I didn’t like, I searched for one I did and this was to be found in the Cambridge Dictionary online

‘to interest someone in something and keep them thinking about it’

Surely this is the kind of engagement we want as educators? The kind of engagement that leaves students thinking about a lesson long after it has ended.

The beginning of a lesson can certainly trigger engagement-

  • A warm welcome that makes students feel as though the environment they have entered is one that offers a safe and secure learning experience
  • A clear routine that helps them to enter a focussed state of mind.
  • A question to raise curiosity or a short problem to solve as soon as students enter the learning space (explore a range of starter activities here)

Beyond the very beginning of a lesson though, what kind of learning experiences lead to a longer lasting engagement that stretches beyond their timetabled learning time?

The following patterns about engagement have emerged as a result of speaking to colleagues this week, reflecting on the best teachers I’ve seen, and considering learning I’ve chosen to engage in for myself. Engagement results from the following-

  1. Teachers with strong subject knowledge
  2. Teachers with passion for their subject
  3. Problem solving activities and well-pitched challenge

The best ‘teacher’ I can think of that embodies the first two of these is David Attenborough. He never ceases to engage me in a subject I have little natural affinity with.

In addition to his subject knowledge and passion, Attenborough has an authentic warmth, sense of humour and joy that certainly provides an entertaining edge.

It is often easy for us to be drawn towards the ‘fun’ aspect of engagement but this should never come first. In setting out to engage our students with their learning, fun may be the product of what they engage with and how rather than an end in itself.

Problem solving and well-pitched challenge

 

When I considered the learning in my life that has engaged me the most, it has always hooked me into a ‘state of flow’.

Flow is about finding the perfect balance of challenge in line with what the students abilities are so that you can work them away from anxious and stressed and towards a high level of control and focus.

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So how do we get students into a state of flow?

‘The flow experience is when a person is completely involved in what he or she is doing, when the concentration is very high, when the person knows moment by moment what the next steps should be, like if you are playing tennis, you know where you want the ball to go, if you are playing a musical instrument you know what notes you want to play, every millisecond, almost. And you get feedback to what you’re doing. That is, if you’re playing music, you can hear whether what you are trying to do is coming out right or in tennis you see where the ball goes and so on. So there’s concentration, clear goals, feedback, there is the feeling that what you can do is more or less in balance with what needs to be done, that is, challenges and skills are pretty much in balance.

When these characteristics are present a person wants to do whatever made him or her feel like this, it becomes almost addictive and you’re trying to repeat that feeling and that seems to explain why people are willing to do things for no good reason — there is no money, no recognition — just because this experience is so rewarding and that’s the flow experience.’ (Csikszentmihalyi, M, 2008)

A useful model for challenge and pitching it right is ‘The Learning Pit’ from James Nottingham.

 

For further practical ideas about engagement and its components then the writers of ‘Outstanding Teaching – Engaging Learners’ may have some answers in their model for ‘outstanding’ teaching-

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Image available from here

They have a page filled with 4×4 grids on a variety of aspects of Teaching & Learning. here’s a sample of their version for lesson starts-starter.png

Click here to view all of the grids available

 

I began this blog writing about the reasons ‘engagement’ was important in my early career. Working in Further Education sits squarely in the ‘second chance education’ bracket and whilst the aim of getting students to be enthused about our subject long after the lesson is over is a worthy one; there is a social and personal perspective at play in their education with us too – How are we engaging students in developing connections with their peers and others? How are we working on their personal development so that they are able to progress and make a positive economic contribution to society? (Savelsberg, H et. al. 2017) ‘to interest someone in something and keep them thinking about it’ must stretch far beyond the realms of the subject content of their BTEC qualification. Enrich their time at College with social experiences, community contributions, and employer-led projects and we might be closer to engagement than any dictionary definition might get us.

 


Csikszentmihalyi, M (2008), Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, LONDON: Harper Perennial Modern Classics

Savelsberg, H et. al. (2017) ‘Second chance education: barriers, supports and engagement strategies’ in Australian Journal of Adult Learning, Vol. 57, Number 1

Transforming Teacher Education – Week 2

You can read about week 1 here

In this face-to-face session as part of the Education and Training Foundation funded programme, delivered by a number of University partners (mine being Sheffield Hallam University), we began by exploring the design of an Initial Teacher Education curriculum. What is it that trainee teachers need and how could we enable them to make progress with this?

We were asked to discuss the aspects of teaching we felt were the most important for trainees to engage with- especially those things which the mentor might be best placed to support. Much of our list turned out to be aspects we felt had been missed out of our own teacher training and/or mentor relationship when we started out-

  • The practicalities of the role- managing workload, time and being organised
  • Appreciating ‘impact’ so that strategies can be adjusted/prioritised accordingly
  • Being friendly versus being friends- boundaries
  • Setting ground rules in the form of ‘shared values’
  • Practical classroom management-including assertive discipline
  • Pastoral care side of the role
  • Their expectations versus the reality of the sector
  • Aspects of the role best summed up as ‘teachery things’

 

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Image available from here

As a trainee teacher, it’s important for them to begin defining themselves- what kind of ‘self’ will they bring to the role and their students? Observing others helps them to shape this but they need to be encouraged to reflect on the development of this ‘person’ for themselves. Who are they as a teacher? This is especially important in the post-compulsory sector when teacher identity is so much more complex- they may be an engineer, hairdresser, plumber, veterinary nurse- but is this who they are as a teacher? Stepping into their role as teacher and figuring out how to still be their professional selves as they’ve known it will be the hardest journey for them to take.

They ‘have an expertise and identity from their original vocation as well as a new identity that derives from their role as teacher.’ (Orr, K, 2008) The problem arises in that they are unable to eradicate their preceding identity as ‘their previous experience gives them the credibility required for their new teaching role.’ (Orr, K, 2008)

As we move our trainees beyond this initially challenging journey, the sector then faces the unique challenge of continuing to develop all teaching staff (qualified teachers or not…) towards being tri-professionals. As Dan Williams describes, there is a need for them to continually update industry expertise to keep up with changes in industry that take place once they leave the profession. They must also continue to develop both their knowledge and pedagogy as well as the subject content and knowledge (Williams, D, 2015).

The Curriculum

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Image available from here

From here, we entered initial discussions about the shape of the curriculum. The mentor would be one very important part of this but what of the remainder and would we refer to it as ‘training’ or as education’? WE remained unsure throughout- discussing that it was perhaps training at the start with education later.. but at times we’d need to conduct it the other way around…

We had all of the usual elements you’d expect on a teacher education curriculum. We also spoke about the incorporation of 360 assessments, development of digital skills, discussions about resilience and mindset and engagement with the latest in evidence based practice.

Developing Expert Teachers

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Image available from here

John Hattie

Whilst the core aim of any teacher education programme, developing ‘expert’ teachers would be a longer term aim; establishing the conditions and foundation for them to become ‘expert’ teachers in the future.

‘Expert teachers identify the most important ways to represent the subject that they teach.’

‘Expert teachers create an optimal classroom climate for learning.’

‘Expert teachers believe all students can reach the success criteria.’

‘Expert teachers influence a wide range of student outcomes not solely limited to test scores.’ (Hattie, J, 2012)

Modelling expert teaching then becomes a large part of the job for any teacher educator- engaging trainees in learning experiences and then talking about the decision making involved in getting them there. Why did I choose to do it that way rather than this way? How was that activity beneficial for your learning? Which expert teacher attitude and belief was being used there and what was ‘expert’ about it?

Developing English and maths skills

 

It’s become increasingly important for all Further Education teachers to develop students’ English and maths skills, both for employment and to pass their courses. Prior to the session, we were asked to complete a Functional Skills maths paper and one for English.

English- practice paper

Teaching English and having taught Functional Skills before, there were few surprises on this paper. I was however surprised that so much of the reading task was multiple choice – the new GCSE English course certainly demands a great deal more of students than the level 2 FS appears to. The jury is still out here as to which qualification currently serves our FE students best (I’m currently inclined to say neither). There’s certainly an opportunity for this paper to develop students’ evaluative and critical abilities far more than it does currently.

Maths- practice paper

The maths paper held an entirely different experience for me however. I had heard it was wordy and that our students were often struggling with the language on the paper before they could even move onto the maths. It is wordier than I had even expected and there are a great number of details to take in before a question can be answered- students’ comprehension skills will need to be well-developed if they are to tackle such papers with success.

In some of the questions I was asked to check my answer and show that I had done my check… I had no idea how to do this. Along with this, it was clear there was certain knowledge that I was particularly rusty with and how highly knowledge features in the paper (conversion from degrees C to F for instance..). I soon found that when I was able to do a question, I felt pleased and motivated to continue. The questions I could recollect how to do were an enjoyable challenge BUT when there was something I didn’t have a clue about, I felt tired out and bored… I decided I would find a question I liked instead! Like, ooh, a graph! I know these!

The reforms to FS will no doubt be welcome for the sector when they arrive; hopefully making them far more functional and far less contrived. How often, really, do our students need to read a timetable for a bus or train these days with apps that will give them the information merely by inputting the times and days they wish to travel to their destination? Whilst being able to apply English and maths skills confidently is key when they enter the workplace we’re preparing them for, there is far more to the education English and maths can offer that we mustn’t forget about – logical approaches to problem solving, curiosity and determination to reach an answer, evaluative skills and approaching unfamiliar situations with curiosity.

So, the teacher educator needs to work with their trainees on how to develop English and maths skills but they also need to develop trainees’ English and maths skills sufficiently well that they, in turn, can develop the skills of their students.

This, in short, requires continual revisiting. Regularly asking at the end of the session, Where was the maths and English in today’s lesson? develops students’ reflective skills as they can explore how well this development was executed but they can then begin to explore how they’re achieving it in their own lessons. Much of the battle is helping trainees to translate how they feel about their own English and maths skills into a) doing something to develop their own skills and b) allowing themselves to appreciate how this affects the mindsets of their students in similar ways.

We’ve been working on a set of English skills (still a work in progress) that all of our teachers need to develop in students and we’ll be working on materials to accompany the development of their own skills too. We will be working on a maths set to accompany this.

English skills
Reading Writing Speaking Listening
Making use of a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words Writing in full, clear and concise sentences Organise ideas into a clear structure for presentation (individually or as part of a group) Listen to questions carefully and respond in a straightforward manner as part of a presentation
Reading to understand meaning (explicit) Spelling key terms correctly Plan language carefully for a presentation (individually or as part of a group) Listen to questions carefully and respond in a straightforward and suitably detailed manner as part of a teacher’s Q&A
Reading to understand underlying meaning (implicit) Make notes in a logical and clear manner Choose words carefully when contributing to a discussion Listen to others’ contributions during a discussion to avoid repeating their points
Reading to locate specific details (searching for information) Plan ideas carefully in a logical structure Structure ideas before contributing to a discussion Listen to others’ contributions during a discussion in order to make a meaningful response
Differentiate between facts and opinions, including ‘fake facts’ Spelling commonly confused words correctly Listen to and carefully follow instructions
Reading for structure- sequencing information Use appropriate punctuation
Make use of a wide ranging vocabulary (find alternatives for words you repeat frequently)
Writing to explain – writing about concepts in a clear manner
Writing to evaluate – writing about ideas in a critical way
Writing to persuade – writing about subjects in a persuasive way (convincing someone of a POV)

Embedding, Promoting, Developing

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Whilst movements have been made to move beyond embedding (an action that became ‘hiding’), a new term has been introduced- that of ‘promoting’. I can’t think of that as anything other than ramming English and maths down students’ throats, willing or not. Beating them relentlessly over the head with the benefits.

‘Developing’ students’ skills works well for me-

  • We’re not including English and maths for the sake of it merely to tick a box.
  • We’re not working on their skills but without explicitly sharing that it’s English and maths so that it’s by stealth.
  • We’re not marking out the adding of two numbers in a level 3 class as ‘maths’ when it’s something most of them could have achieved when they were 6 years of age.

In developing, we are actively reflecting on where their English and maths skills are currently, both in general and in relation to the subject-specific skills that will serve as the foundation for their future success in their chosen industry. We’re then working to create activities that will provide maximum space and opportunity for them to develop a wide range of skills towards both competence and confidence.

Berliner, D C (date unknown) Expert Teachers: Their Characteristics, Developments and Accomplishments, Available at: https://www.sportscoachuk.org/sites/default/files/Berliner-(2004)-Expert-Teachers.pdf

Hattie, J (2012) Visible Learning for Teachers, quoted in The Main Idea, Available at: http://www.tdschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/The+Main+Idea+-+Visible+Learning+for+Teachers+-+April+2013.pdf

Orr, K (2008) Dual Identities: enhancing the in-service teacher-trainee experience in further education, Available at:  https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/subjects/escalate/5125_Dual_identities_-_enhancing_th

Williams, D (2015) The Tri-Professional, Available at: https://furtheredagogy.wordpress.com/2015/12/28/the-tri-professional/https://furtheredagogy.wordpress.com/2015/12/28/the-tri-professional/

 

How do you plan your lessons?

Whenever I ask colleagues the question, ‘How do you plan your lessons?’ I never get the answer I expect to get. Their immediate starting point is often to describe the comprehensive written lesson plans they might produce for an observation or Ofsted. The kind where they pull all the stops out, justify their every move and add the cherry on top. A dancing, singing figure prances across my vision before I respond, ‘No, I don’t care about that kind of ‘planning’. ‘I’m interested in how you plan your lessons week in, week out – the planning you do for your students, not the big O.’

Then I’m invariably met with ‘Well I haven’t got time to write 4 page lesson plans for every single one of the hours I teach…’

After wondering how better to rephrase my question in order to avoid this in the future… I share that mine invariably consist of illegible scribbles on scraps of paper in a weird and wonderful layout that could only ever make sense to me. This appears to free colleagues up into a far more open and honest dialogue about what their lesson planning really consists of.

This, as you’d expect, varies wildly-

  • Some have ideas in their head with minimal to no notes on paper
  • Some stick to a linear layout with intricate timings and details for everything
  • Some plan on the back of a post-it (there’s a book in there somewhere Rachel George and you know it!)
  • Some make use of a 5 minute lesson plan (like this from Ross McGill or these from Shaun Andrew )
  • Some will just take an index card of questions in with them – the rest of their lesson has been plotted on their slides and electronic resources
  • One has a ‘mad Venn diagram’!

Layout aside (because I’ve never seen a single template used effectively across an entire body of teachers- please feel free to share one in the comments below if you know differently), the more pertinent questions become –

What does the process of planning a lesson actually involve?

What are the most important things for us to plan in advance and why?

imagesThe end point

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Engage with a video about Doug Lemov’s ‘Start with the End’ stategy here

Perhaps a little odd to start at the end but for me (and a number of colleagues I asked on Twitter), this is the most logical beginning for the planning process.

Where do you want your students to reach by the end of the lesson?

Someone once described it to me as ‘Students are walking out of that door at the end of the lesson- What knowledge would you like them to possess? How would you like them to be different? What questions would you like them to still be contemplating?’

I then take some time to plan how best to check this- Will it be a series of questions or an activity for them to complete? Will it be a reflection in a learning diary? Do I need to conduct this individually or could a small group assessment work at this moment in time?

This process logically leads me to writing some learning objectives for students to work towards during a session. These will be the guide on our learning journey ahead.

Kompas_Sofia.JPGLearning objectives

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You can read more about the use of learning objectives/outcomes here – https://www.smore.com/bjjb4-learning-objectives

I generally choose a maximum of 3 learning objectives (because more just seems a bit crazy and less doesn’t always serve us well)-

  1. START IT – this will scaffold (support) students’ progress – a piece of knowledge they’ll need to be familiar with and have an understanding of.
  2. PROVE IT – to stretch them and demand some application and practice.
  3. DEVELOP IT – to challenge them still further and generally develop some longer-term attributes useful for their futures (digital skills, reflective capabilities, evaluation or problem solving skills).

(PS. This is never a to do list – it has to be about their learning!)

I’ve always struggled with how to relay these effectively to students and in recent years have resolved just to use questions. These take some crafting during the planning stages but once formed, they are then perfect for measuring levels of confidence at the start and end of a lesson – How confident are you that you could answer this question? How confident are you now? How about now? Students can then answer the learning objective questions for me during or at the end of a lesson and I can feel more secure that they’re leaving the classroom with all that I initially felt was important.

So I now know where I want them to get to but how can I get them there if I’m not sure where they’re starting from?

Leichtathletiklaufbahn.jpegStarting Points

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It’s important for me to consider, via planning, the best way to determine where each of my students is starting from (and part of this is often about their emotional wellbeing so that I can be aware of this and respond accordingly during the lesson). Is asking students’ levels of confidence enough? Do I need them to map out all that they know about a new topic? Could they teach the person next to them all that they’ve learned so far about a topic? Could they free-write for 2 minutes about the bits they know and don’t? Could they complete an activity or engage in an online quiz?

There are multiple ways to achieve a sense of this starting point but its importance is in the reflection that can then take place at the end of the lesson- What kind of a journey have they been on? Could I have pushed them further (as they knew a lot to begin with)? Could I have scaffolded activities more to ensure their progress (as they knew little to begin with)? Did they end up where I thought they would and does it matter? Knowing their starting point is a crucial part of me being able to ‘measure’ their progress.

I can also consider what I’ll use to warm up their brain and generate intrigue as they walk into the room and get prepared for the lesson -a question, a conundrum, a name, a face, a challenge. This and the all important routines we’ve established of meet and greet, catch-up about the week, find your place (different every week), lanyard, pen, paper, rewards for positive engagement…

You can explore a range of starter (and plenary activities) here – https://hannahruthtyreman.wordpress.com/2015/12/01/starters-and-plenaries/

 

At_The_End_Of_The_Tunnel.jpgThe journey in between

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I then consider how I’m going to get the students from their starting point to as close as possible to the desired end point.

  1. How will the new learning be introduced- Will that be me? Could that be them? Will it be researched? Could video and/or demonstration be helpful?
  2. What will their ‘practice’ look like?
  3. How will they give or receive feedback?
  4. What assessment strategies can I use throughout to check their learning and move it forward?

My group profile is crucial for informing this part of my planning – Where are each of my students at currently? What are their strengths in this topic? What do they need to develop? How can I best shape activities to maximise learning for each of my individual students?

pexels-photo-92028.jpegWhat else?

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Them and me – At each point of the lesson- What are they doing? What am I doing?

Questions – What questions could I ask at pivotal moments in the lesson that might further their learning? How might I differentiate these for each of my students? What questions might they ask me? What misconceptions might they have?

Schedule– In a longer lesson- What timings are important (because I know I won’t be able to stick to them all)? What breaks from learning could I provide to refresh students’ energy and what will these consist of?

Connections– What pieces of previous learning could I make connections to? What learning to come could I relate it to portray a sense of the bigger picture?

Extend– How might their learning be extended outside of the lesson?

 

7512877940_2720e3be12_b.jpgA word of caution

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During my initial teacher education, I was given a card that said, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. Whilst I have experienced failure even when I have planned, I can agree that few great lessons have come from no lesson plan at all (although I do remember an awesome one!). So planning seems to be worthwhile but a word of caution is shared in this piece of research (thanks for the link Deep Ghataura).

‘Once the teacher decides what outcomes (s)he wants from the lesson and how (s)he will achieve them, (s)he sets out to produce these outcomes regardless of what pupils introduce into the teaching-learning situation. Pupils’ ideas and remarks are words to be heard, not thoughts to be dealt with’ (Zahorik, J, 1970).

So, whilst we plan where we want to take our students and predict how they will get there, we must not adhere so rigidly to the plan and what we expect that we miss the rich learning experiences that could result from us being more responsive to the reality of the students in front of us.

There are, of course, many, many elements of a lesson that I’ve missed out here but I chose only to write about the fundamental aspects- the parts that I think make the biggest difference to learners’ progress as well as those parts that make me feel more confident entering a lesson. I’d love to know what you think? Please comment below or contact me on Twitter @hannahtyreman

Promoting British Values

Ever since I attended the development day @sheffcol on how to have conversations about Prevent and British Values with students, it occurred to me that we needed to be integrate more explicit promotion rather than hidden embedding of these values.

This has resulted in a collection of ideas to start us on this journey. I’m hoping it will grow as a result of colleagues sharing their approaches.

Click here for the live online version

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And I’m not sure I know anything more powerful for beginning a conversation about mutual respect and tolerance than this:

Transforming Teacher Education – Week 1

Last week saw me start a new learning journey- because the journeys of-

  • Teaching new spec GCSE English
  • Doing my job
  • Photography

…weren’t quite enough for me!

The course is a collaboration between the Education and Training Foundation and a number of universities around the country, one of them being Sheffield Hallam.

This is one of four regional projects, funded by the Education and Training Foundation. The ETF commissioned the projects to inform a set of professional standards and a qualification for FE teacher educators. By being involved in this project you are helping shape the future of teacher education in the post-compulsory education and training sector (also known as the FE sector).

It appealed to me because I work with new teachers often through my role and working to develop their practice is something I’ve never had training for. The conversation went more along the lines of- you’re a great teacher, you’re keen and willing, you have a positive demeanour- off you go! As is the way with all things ‘FE’, in at the deep end was the way so having the opportunity to reflect and learn was welcome- even if it did mean some Saturdays and some online activity for the coming few weeks.

This is the first of my blogs in this series and summarises my learning from week 1. There’ll be subsequent blogs for the rest of the programme:

  1. Day 1: Session 1 – From teacher to teacher educator
  2. Day 1: Session 2 – Developing observation skills 
  3. Online: Session 3 – Working with mentors
  4. Day 2: Session 4 – Designing and ITE curriculum
  5. Day 2: Session 5 -Developing English and maths skills within the ITE curriculum
  6. Online: Session 6 – Using technology to enhance learning
  7. Day 3: Session 7 – Making feedback and feed forward effective
  8. Day 3: Session 8 – Safeguarding within ITE
  9. Day 4: Session 9 – Reflection for action
  10. Day 4: Session 10 – Becoming a practitioner researcher

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Qualities and skills of teacher educators

To develop our understanding of the qualities of teacher educators, we were first invited to reflect on the images of ‘teachers’ around the room; what skills and qualities did they possess?

Dalai Lama / Brian Cox / Dumbledore / David Attenborough / Salman Khan / Albert Einstein…

Whilst there were a multitude of differences between them, we identified some commonalities most of them shared (bar them all being men):

  • Their reach is wide
  • They have the ability to make the complex simple, but not so simple that we feel like fools
  • They have tremendous passion and presence
  • They have strong subject knowledge; experts in their field
  • They connect with their audience and build rapport
  • They generate curiosity

So if these are the qualities of the world’s (arguably) best teachers then what of teacher educators?

Our pre-reading was entitled, ‘Train the Trainer: A study of the professional skill competencies and psychological qualities of teacher trainer’

We spent some time discussing this article at the start of the session; exploring its content but also our opinion of it. We spoke about the findings of the study, that:

  • Facilitation skills
  • Pedagogical knowledge
  • Rich experience
  • Good understanding of the participants’ expectations
  • Confidence
  • Self-regulation of emotion

‘are the most essential skill competencies and the psychological needs of the teacher trainers’. 

In addition, ‘a range of ‘critical abilities’ and ‘reflective attitudes’ would also ease he anxieties raised from the trainers’ changing roles during their transitions from subject teachers to teacher trainers because teacher training is a much more complex and demanding job.’ (Yuk-Kwan Ng, R and Yee-Shun Lam, R, 2015)

Although we felt that a lot of the study pointed out the obvious, at least to educators working in the UK, I felt comforted by its incorporation of the psychological demands of the job. I’ve read little related to this whether teachers OR teacher educators and I think those aspects are as important, if not more so, than the skill competencies required. It made me question my own ‘psychological readiness’ when I first entered the realms of teacher education. I’ve certainly developed this ‘readiness’ over the years but having mentored a new teacher educator a few years ago, I realised the level of ‘readiness’ the job demanded. So much of what we spoke about were her approaches to difficult student-teachers and how to lead these individuals towards success in their studies and career.

We were then able to draw some similarities between the two via a venn diagram (what qualities and aspects do they share?)

We then spent some time speaking about aspects of perception and reflection and how they might be important as teacher educators:

Self-efficacy – the accuracy with which you are able to gauge how successfully you can do something

Self-esteem– the attitude and feelings you have towards yourself and your worth

Stepping through a mirror – we need to move past the immediate things we notice and towards the rest; the things we see when stepping through the mirror to see how others see it and interact with it.

A warning about reflection– it can be a monster of our own creation: you will never be ‘good enough’.

As a result of speaking about these aspects, we reflected that often, teacher education is separated from vocational practice – this is how we alienate our trainee teachers. It becomes our duty to know the theory well enough that we are then able to distill that theory into something relevant and accessible. For instance, when we provide trainees with reading, how can we make this palatable? Use of video, diagrams, images, questions, a jigsaw activity to engage with content…

A question cropped up during the morning – how much of teacher training is (and should be) compliance? For any good curriculum design, it’s always the case that the ‘compliance’ aspects and essentials can be incorporated as a part of a much broader or deeper exploration of a subject and my own vision for and experience of teacher education is that it should be just that; resulting in teachers who are prepared as best they can be, not just for the necessary parts of the job, but to make the most of the joys and feel prepared for the varying demands it entails.

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Towards impact

The job of a teacher educator is to help the trainees along their journey towards understanding their impact, which Lidstone and Hollingworth (1992) says takes 2 years. At the beginning of their journey, they focus on their classroom skills; behaviour management, planning, questioning, assessment, feedback and so on. They then begin to move towards subject knowledge; still maintaining a focus on classroom skills but tying this to their subject and considering modelling, explanations, learning objectives and appropriate assessment methods. The end point is to get the trainee to ‘impact’- the final stage of their initial teacher journey and the point at which they begin to focus on how their students are affected by their actions. Teacher educators are to help these trainees towards this ‘impact’ stage where their focus is not on themselves but their students and their learning. This is not the end point of a teacher’s journey though; it is just the start (just as passing your driving test is seen to be the start of you really learning to drive!)

How do trainee teachers learn (Maxwell, B, 2010) – Through a mix between the various components of their experience: their placement / engagement levels in general / their ITE course. Whilst these three components can often be in competition with one another, there are many ways in which they can complement one another (and any future design of teacher education, should allow for this even more). The influences of each can affect another; what they are exposed to on their placement for instance having a huge impact on how they respond to and interact with their ITE course, thus affecting engagement too.

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Observing trainee teachers

This began with us discussing the purpose of these observations and there were certainly conflicting views; although compliance would be one element and assessment of this; there was also development, and yet there was judgement too. There is a tension that exists for the teacher educator; that between measuring and developing.

Our role, although not our purpose, as teacher educators observing trainees is to reveal their tacit knowledge in order to build confidence and increase efficacy; the aspects of the trainees practice that they’re unable to articulate themselves easily as they don’t notice they’re doing it.

So what is it that we’d be looking for during an observation? Well these things are wide-ranging but the trick is – How do we know when we’ve seen it? What evidence can we draw on to avoid our own perception taking over?

After exploring these aspects, we watched a video of a lesson and prepared to give and receive the ‘feedback’. Having moved to a coaching approach for all teaching observations at work, I was able to share that our opening question is not ‘How do you think it went?’ anymore. This is never a good place to start as a trainee teacher is either over-critical of their practice and uses it as an opportunity to beat themselves up OR they do not possess the critical faculties yet to appraise their performance effectively and over-estimate how successful the learning was. Better to begin with a question along the lines of, ‘How did the students develop during that lesson? How were they different by the end of the lesson?’ These kinds of questions place the emphasis on learning and the students; taking the focus away from the trainee and moving them more quickly along their journey towards understanding their impact.

We all concluded that there was no optimum form for taking notes on during an observation; most of us opting to jot down notes and take time to reflect and prioritise themes later.

As a result of the session, we were all asked to contribute our reflections on what makes observation feedback effective on a Padlet wall. I shared the following;

I’d agree that timing is important. This should be mutually agreed so that the trainee is happy with the time, rather than it just being squeezed into an available gap (not always to achieve). I feel it should be between 2-4 days after an observation to allow time for reflection for the observee and for the teacher educator to formulate the key themes to be talked about and the questions to trigger dialogue.

Location is absolutely vital. Ideally a small and private space away from the corridor the trainee would normally work in so that they don’t feel nervous about being interrupted by staff and/or students (or using this as an excuse to escape).

The feedback needs to engage the trainee. ‘How did your students develop in the lesson?’ ‘What was your thinking behind x activity?’ ‘Explain your phrasing of x question…’ This allows the trainee to frame their practice in context and their responses can guide the teacher educator’s approach in response- either more coaching or more mentoring depending on the trainee’s level of self-efficacy. Asking the teacher educator to rephrase what they’ve heard during each part of the feedback is a useful way to check they’ve understood accurately.

The feedback needs to result in some clear actions- share your practice in this way… Observe a peer and look for this… Record yourself teaching and explore the following questions… Try x and record the students’ responses… These actions should be connected to some kinds of measures the trainee could use to check effectiveness but should also lead into a future observation so that there is some continuity with their development.

It is important that the relationship is maintained during feedback; responding to the individual, their context and rate of development is vital so that they are not discouraged from developing and nor do they feel so buoyed that they interpret they have little else to develop in their practice.I was emailed this article the other day and it includes some pointers- I especially liked that as an observer, we have the ability to hold up a mirror to another person’s practice through describing what we’ve seen:

http://blog.irisconnect.com/uk/6-simple-ways-to-make-your-feedback-more-empowering-for-others

As always, I found the opportunity to discuss my practice and ideas as well as reflect on it of great value (a community has been created). I’m being introduced to a number of concepts I’d like to explore more along the way  (my curiosity has been sparked) and I’m looking forward to the remaining weeks (including online learning weeks via OneNote and other technologies).

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Recommended Reading

Bathmaker, A. & Avis, J. (2005) Becoming a lecturer in further education in England: the construction of professional identity and the role of communities of practice. Journal of Education for Teaching 31 (1) pp. 47-62

Dixon, L., Jennings, A., Orr, K. & Tummons, J. (2010) Dominant discourses of pre‐service teacher education and the exigencies of the workplace: an ethnographic study from English further education, Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 62 (4) pp.381-393

Hattie, J (2015) Know Thy Impact, Available from: https://goo.gl/qvBf3f

Maxwell, B.(2010) Teacher knowledge and initial teacher education in the English learning and skills sector, Teaching Education, 21:4, 335-348,

Orr, K. (2012) Coping, confidence and alienation: the early experience of trainee teachers in English further education. Journal of Education for Teaching: International research and pedagogy, 38 (1) pp. 51-65

Mini Learning Project Journal

Between April and July, a number of The Sheffield College staff volunteered to participate in a project that would help us to trial what will become the Big Learning Project from September 2016 (read more about its launch here).

The original motivation for developing this project was to address the need for CPD that would be more relevant and meaningful to each of the professionals who chose to participate in it. The Mini Learning Project presented opportunities for collaboration and discussion. It encouraged creativity and experimentation, as well as reflection and evaluation. It made a move away from ‘traditional’ CPD by being:

  • Open to all staff, no matter what their role
  • Aligned to the needs of the students/ customers/ staff
  • Relevant to the participants’ experiences
  • Impact focused
  • A collaborative and reflective process
  • A sharing of learning experiences

Staff chose to engage with this pilot for a range of reasons and these are just a few of them:

‘I am always keen to find ways in which I can make better use of my skills and improve the service I provide for students. I like to understand how others work and make practical suggestions for ways in which their working practices could be more efficient.’  

‘To have the opportunity to develop my own practice and share experiences with other     colleagues. I think it is important to continually reflect and evaluate your own practice in order to improve/keep up to date with learning pedagogies and drive up standards.’  
 
‘I see it as an opportunity to make observations, develop/share ideas/experiments and try them out to help make things happen – ultimately to improve the experiences of both our internal and external customers.’  

‘The opportunity to discuss and work with staff from other depts as when otherwise do we have the time? And to challenge my thinking, and to refresh my approaches to teaching.’

There were four phases to the project:

Learning Lens was a two week phase of the project provided participants with valuable reflection time.

Thinking Out Loud was a series of breakfast sessions that enabled conversation and collaboration.

Learning Journey was where participants had a chance to experiment back in their contexts.

Sharing Learning is the contents of this publication (click the image to view).

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I was pleased that staff had engaged well with the project, especially given the challenge of engaging in CPD at that time of the year. Feedback so far indicates that staff greatly valued the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues; even if this was just recognising one another’s contexts and the similarities/differences between their areas of work. The experiments had various levels of success and a greater emphasis on their measuring of impact would have been beneficial. I’ve had to give thought to how I’ll create an online community as well as face-to-face one and generate more flexibility throughout the year for project start and end dates.

I’m pleased that all staff had the chance to explore an area of their work or practice most meaningful to them; the whole advantage of running CPD in this way.

What’s next?

Well, I’ve learnt from the pilot and the Big Learning Project will commence with six phases from September 2016, heightening the focus on engaging with existing evidence/thinking/practice as well as later explorations of impact. Staff can register their interest between now and September and the first project-eers will commence their learning in late September.

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Turning CPD into Learning: The Mini Learning Project

The Mini Learning Project began life in my mind and then on a Piktochart as The Big Learning Project in January 2016. The project was borne largely out of frustration that the only thing that remains continuous about CPD is its unshakeable reputation as something that’s done TO you. Continue reading “Turning CPD into Learning: The Mini Learning Project”