With experienced teachers leaving the profession in droves and recruitment targets regularly missed, innovation is essential says Andy Goff
Teacher continuous professional development (CPD), to improve teacher efficacy, is the most important thing for us to get right, according to educationalists and academics alike. It is clearly one, if not the most important, influence on student learning outcomes.
Teacher recruitment targets are being missed year on year, and we are currently seeing teachers fleeing the profession at alarming rates; approximately half of teachers have only been in the profession for 10 years. It is clear that we are on a hiding to nothing if we don’t innovate and invest in the next generation of CPD to support teachers now so that they can be the best that they can be, achieving even better levels of expertise and mastery in the profession.
We need to invest in innovative CPD that supports those working in schools, so that they want to stay, enjoy it, and find it intellectually stimulating. Andreas Schleicher, director for education and skills at the OECD, recently suggested this was one reason why Finland has such a high-achieving education system.
In order for schools to provide efficient, appropriate and focused personalised training for its teachers, they have to first see what is happening in their classroom; how do their teachers interact with their students and nurture them. By its very nature the teaching environment is a very complex one with numerous variables and nuances to be taken account of. It therefore seems quite ridiculous that, in most schools, the way teachers are observed for CPD purposes is by positioning a colleague or consultant at the back of the classroom to observe, resulting in a very unnatural example of their normal teaching. The teacher possibly feels they are “performing” and not teaching (the Hawthorne Effect). Moreover, the students may react differently and the observer at the back rarely sees the body language and expression on the faces of all students.
“We are on a hiding to nothing if we don’t innovate and invest in the next generation of CPD to support teachers.”
Because of this, several Academy schools across the UK have recently been trialling a 360 degree camera system facilitating complete classroom capture and review; LessonVU. The system is discrete, captures the whole classroom and can be scheduled to capture lessons as required. Early reactions are very positive, with teachers having secure ownership of the videos of their lessons so that they can be “curious in their classrooms” and reflect on their teaching in private, or securely share lesson clips with mentors for their consideration.
As Dan Thomas, executive headteacher of Shavington primary school (part of the Learning for Life multi-academy trust) said, “This system gives the ownership of professional development to the teachers so they can reflect and develop their skills.”
In its simplest form teachers teach normally, as they tend to forget the technology is there. The time-saving is immediately considerable as mentoring can be efficiently scheduled at more convenient times post-lesson than comprehensive teaching timetables can permit.
We work closely with Dr Sean Warren, a highly experienced teacher self-review expert. An integral part of his research has been the development of an observation template and methodology which facilitates self-reflection, collaborative and self-review. As Ed Snelgrove, principal at Hereford Academy said: “The first lesson learned was that the teaching staff needed to learn how to effectively review their teaching and more importantly, understand what they were looking at.”
The problem of accurately aligning teachers to the necessary CPD is still a challenge in many school. With tight budgets, accurately identifying the correct, high quality, personalised training from teacher self-reflection has never been more important.
This article was written by Julian Owen and originally published on the Academy Today website on October 16 2017. See the original article here.