BLOG PAGE: A View from the Bridge
By Mr. Clayton
By Mr. Clayton
Seen on a poster in some schools in the 1990s, ‘Lord if I die, I hope it’s during in service training, because the transition to death would be so subtle.’ I am sure that we can all recognise this feeling. I am sure that we have all sat through seemingly endless and mind-numbing training in whatever walk of life we are in. The standard model of teacher training developed over the last 50 years has been a top down one. A team of trainers was sent out to train teachers to train other teachers. The process was a very sanitised and impersonal one. It also creates the feeling that training must come from above. This model is not an efficient one and probably helped to spawn the wry comment above.
Like all professions the teaching profession always needs to look for ways to build expertise in its members. Recent research shows that teacher effectiveness slows and in fact may go into decline after 5 years. How then do we halt this decline? We need to facilitate access to effective and meaningful professional development. Teachers should seek to improve their practice through careful reflection. They need to explore different ways of meeting the needs of their students, and try to evaluate whether new approaches are more successful than previous ones. This should not come from an insinuation that the teacher is not good enough, rather that they have the potential to be even better.
What forms does this take? We have teachers going to meet with teachers all around the region and all around Hong Kong as they take part in many different training sessions, they network, swap ideas and visit each other’s schools. A very powerful action.
A second way to improve teacher performance is through external expertise. Next Friday we have a whole international stream training day. This is being led by international educational expert, Ian Gilbert, author of ‘Why Do I need a teacher when I’ve got Google?’ and ‘The little book of Thunks’ and co-founder of Independent Thinking. He will be helping us in areas such as teaching and learning-the global perspective, secrets of the learning brain, getting children’s brains to hurt and well-being for students. We are looking forward to working with him and looking forward to enacting some of his fantastic ideas.
The third way is through enabling teachers to coach and support other teachers. The writer Andy Hargreaves says this, ‘It has long been known that the most powerful influences on teachers are other teachers, but policies rarely build on the fact. The best way of exploiting this phenomenon is through regular, face to face encounters among professionals that focus on the improvement of teaching and learning.’ We are creating opportunities for teachers to do this more often. We are working in professional learning groups on Wednesdays. We are looking for ways to improve our teaching and learning by working together and developing ideas, schemes, plans and strategies together in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration. This creates the power of collective capacity and this enables ordinary people to do extraordinary things-for two reasons. One is that the knowledge about effective practice becomes more widely available and accessible on a daily basis. The second reason is more powerful still-working together creates commitment. Moral purpose, when it stares you in the face through students and your peers working together to make lives and society better is palpable, indeed virtually irresistible. I am hoping that if we can harness this commitment then having a death wish on training days will be a thing of the past!
French Department CPD training in collaboration with teachers at CDNIS on ' Silent Way' - 17 & 18 September 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zSLRBBJS1E&edit=vd