School teachers are trainers; their trainees may be slightly smaller in stature, but nevertheless, teaching is training! Schools are centres of learning excellence and teachers are at the forefront of outcome-focused professional development. They train, constantly, in spite of time and work pressures and ensure that the education our children receive is of the highest quality. We even have a way to quality assure them in the form of Ofsted. We wouldn’t want our teacher training to be sidelined as the impact would be considered too great a risk to our children’s education.
By focusing on learning engagement and reflective observation, education CPD (Continuing Professional Development) is scores ahead of the corporate space. As a result, education CPD is measured, cultivated and nurtured to ensure the best quality education for our children. There is excellence in teaching.
Teachers, on average, partake in 35 hours of CPD per year and are often scrutinised for not doing enough. In the corporate space, we manage a meagre 16.2 hours on average… it makes you think, doesn’t it?
This blog asks a simple question, what can we learn from education CPD?
1. Self-reflection and CPD
Teachers are encouraged to self-reflect and evaluate their performance much more regularly than professionals within organisations. They ask for the training they need and actively seek out answers and ways to develop. Often, I feel we fall into the trap of simply completing our to-do list, and this applies to training as much as it does the workplace.
Research shows that given the opportunity to self-reflect or see/ hear yourself in your workplace environment will result in a much higher percentage of behaviour change than simply disseminating information. As a result, teachers are self-reflecting on their lessons by recording them and watching them back. This gives them the opportunity to see themselves in the classroom and actively experiment with their teaching in order to embed their development.
Self-reflection is an easy way to up those precious training hours without diverting attention away from day-to-day roles. It’s proven impact means that ROI is much higher than traditional learning and development methods.
If you were given the opportunity to see yourself giving a presentation or training session, what do you think you would notice?
2. Overcoming training barriers
Budget and time. The big two when it comes to training barriers. You couldn’t find a more pressured environment where these partners in crime come into play than in education. But, they hit us hard too with tight learning and development budgets.
So how do teachers do it all? And how do they share all the excellence in teaching?
They get organised and they find tools that make sure they can deliver high-quality CPD whilst meeting staff needs in a way that is less effective without the use of technology.
Have a think about how you currently provide learning and development, is it cost-effective? Does it have proven outcomes? Are you getting a good ROI?
3. Observation for peers and seniors
I’m sure everyone reading this at some point has taken part in an observation. But, what’s different about teachers’ observation is that the observation may not be led by a senior member of your team. Observations are encouraged for all learners and leaders alike, either being observed or observing themselves.
This gives everyone the opportunity to see other teachers in practice, no matter what their level. Imagine, NQTs (newly qualified teachers) being encouraged to observe their senior members to learn from their experience, or middle leaders observing each other to gain insight into different lesson skills. No matter what the scenario, I think we can all agree that watching someone else in practice is an extremely effective way to learn.
Now, I understand that we have all had experience with observations. So the question here, is how do we make the most of it?
Firstly, we need to link back to those two barriers, time and money. Observation, traditionally, relies on removing people from their daily work environment, and, if we want to encourage more observation from both senior and peer positions, productivity is going to be an issue.
So we’ve acknowledged the problems, do teachers have the answer?
They use video.
Teachers use video to record their lessons so observations can be conducted by any staff member at any time. This makes peer observations more flexible and accessible and makes sure you are getting your training ROI. People can then observe and learn from each other without diverting too much time away from their day-to-day role, we will all develop as a result.
This leads us nicely into my next point.…
Teachers are ALWAYS working together. Whether it’s sharing lesson plans, observing each other or just asking for friendly advice, there is always somebody to give a helping hand.
This allows them to do a lot of very clever things…
Firstly, learning from experience, by sharing wisdom, or as per above, observations, teachers can learn from the experience of other teachers, this cuts down the reliance on external training providers. Secondly, this also promotes a learning culture. In the corporate space, we are always talking about how to achieve a learning culture, but teachers have nailed it. Now, I can’t put a finger on why this is and I believe there are a number of different reasons why learning is so important to teachers. Maybe it’s as simple as being involved in learning so, therefore, they understand its significance? If anyone has any idea as to why teachers have such a good learning culture, please let me know.
Finally, one thing that strikes me as particularly significant for school collaboration is inter-school collaboration. As a rule, the majority of schools partake in some form of interschool collaboration. I suppose you could translate this into interdepartmental collaborations or perhaps, at a stretch, networking? What this means, however, is that they are always looking for new ideas, research and learning opportunities. Some teachers take part in observing teachers at other schools and peer coaching over schools sites, a significant step in simply sharing resources and ideas.
This list isn’t complete. Excellence in teaching is achieved and surpassed frequently and there are many more ways in which our teachers are going above and beyond in their development. We should all raise a glass to teachers achieving teaching excellence whilst overcoming numerous CPD limitations, we could certainly learn a thing or two…