Sunday, 14 October 2012

Batman and Robin CPD

Last year, I was given responsibility for CPD in English. Now we are lucky, every Wednesday afternoon, the students go home early and we have CPD from 2pm. This means there is an opportunity to use lots of different approaches to staff development. By far my favourite from last year was what we called 'Batman and Robin'.

My biggest problem with CPD is that, usually, you spend your time being lectured to and staring at a PowerPoint you are quite capable of going away and reading yourself. The irony smacks you over the head. Someone comes to speak to you about engaging students and they use a PowerPoint. Someone talks to you about group work and you are sat in rows. Someone talks to you about the value of talk in the classroom... they talk AT you.

The second problem I have is the 'one size fits all' approach. Having the enthusiastic NQT Maths teacher sat with the 30 year seen-it-all-before from the History department doesn't really seem to make the best sense to me most of the time.
We know that students learn best when they understand the point in an activity, they have some control over what they are doing and they can become masters of their own progress. Teachers are no different. This is where 'Batman and Robin' comes in.

The idea is that everyone in the department becomes a 'Batman'. Their strengths in a particular area are highlighted and then someone else, who would like to develop that area, volunteers to be the 'Robin'. They work together for about a four week period investigating, peer observing, researching, etc. At the end, they have a CPD slot of about 30 mins to teach the rest of the department. The areas chosen were things like: starts of lessons, using IT, showing progress, using AfL, teacher talk, differentiation and questioning.

This works extremely well. People feel good about being recognised for their talents. Here, everyone is. This in turn means you are more likely to volunteer to be a Robin to learn from someone else. Because you can choose the area, it tends to be one you think is important to for you to develop and, therefore, something you are motivated towards doing. In this case, nearly everyone volunteered to be a Robin in an area that directly related to targets from their PM observations. Finally, because there is the responsibility of feeding back to the rest of the department, the need to produce something of quality is also a driving force.

My favourite thing about it was that, rather than being talked at, nearly all the feedback sessions were based around modelling techniques and strategies you could take away and use the next day in the classroom. Because you get a chance to see them in action, you are much more likely to go away and use them. My measure of really good CPD.