The GTCS magazine has a great article about learning rounds in its latest edition. It includes a range of quotes from headteachers, local authority people and many others. For example, Gary Johnstone of North Ayrshire Council says that “Learning Rounds, importantly, exemplifies the power of learning together; within, across and beyond schools and with staff at all levels working alongside each other.” and Tom Hamilton of the GTCS adds “the SFR requires that registered teachers take responsibility for their professional learning and development through working collegially with fellow teachers on continuing professional development and it is really positive to have this aspect of professionalism so well exemplified through the Learning Rounds model.”
In October 2009, the CPD Network set out some of its priorities for CPD for CfE. One interesting priority discussed was the needs of colleagues.This Scottish Government funded programme will be of value in addressing this priority.
The StaffWise Toolkit is an organisational resource for improving staff wellbeing in Scottish schools and early education centres.
It provides local authorities, managers and individual staff with a simple and effective set of tools for achieving excellence in wellbeing at work.
This practical resource includes audits, guides and policy information, which promote good management practice and effective ways of working. The content and format can help employers and managers fulfil the requirements of the Health and Safety Executive Stress Management Standards with confidence and ease.
StaffWise offers a positive framework for creating the conditions in which wellbeing will thrive.
I came across a very interesting article in the Harvard Education Letter (Vol 26, no 1) by Richard F Elmore, an old friend of the National CPD Team and indeed of Scottish education.
He reflects on school reform over the last 25 years, by considering how the work he has undertaken has changed his thinking and his habits of mind, and how he has been influenced by others.
He comes to three significant conclusions:
He used to think that policy was the solution. And now he thinks that policy is the problem. He describes the American system as “overwhelmed with policy, conditioned to respond to the immediate demands of whoever controls the political agenda, and not invested in the long-tern health of the sector and the people who work in it.” He believes the answer lies in building a stronger profession by “direct engagement with practitioners, rather than trying to “fix” schools with policy”.
He used to think that people’s beliefs determined their practice. Now he thinks that people’s practices determine their beliefs. He used to believe that improvements in student learning would come from changing teacher attitudes about what children can learn in order that they change their practice. He now believes that what people believe does not greatly influence the way they behave. Rather the largest determinant of of how people’s current practice is their past practice. He says “people demonstrate an amazingly resilient capacity to relabel their existing practices with whatever ideas are currently in vogue.” Elmore now cares more about what people do, and their willingness to engage in deeply unfamiliar practices.
He used to think that public institutions embody the collective values of society. He now thinks that they embody the interests of the people who work in them. He says that the phrase “We’re in it for the kids,” is a monument to self-deception. He believes that the public school system is among the most self-interested institutions in America, staffed by people who are not unusually corrupt, immoral or venal, but simply acting according to their interests. He claims that the greatest leaders of social transformation – Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela – “led by providing an opportunity for people to bring their voices and actions to a common endeavor – not by confusing their own interests with those of the people they hoped to help.”
Would love to hear comments on this – or indeed what did you use to think . . . but now think. . . ?
If you have ever taken part in a book discussion group and thought the format might well be useful for professional purposes, then put this date in your diary – Thursday 28th January 4pm -5pm.
At Scottish CILT ( the Scottish Centre for Information on Languages Teaching and Research ) we are committed to supporting the professional development of languages teachers across Scotland. We do this in several ways: through our programme of CPD events both national and local, on an outreach basis; through our news updates and enquiry service, and through the on-line educational journal, the Scottish Languages Review. We dipped our toes into Glow last session and had our first on-line CPD event in June, which was very successful, attracting 17 participants from across Scotland. We then live streamed the keynote talks from our national conference on MLPS in September.
This session, we took inspiration from David Niven of Wallace High School in Stirling and decided to follow his lead and organise a virtual professional reading group. This is a great idea that David started in his department and it hits a lot of targets for us. We like to think that we help teachers develop professionally through reflection on their own practice and engaging in professional dialogue.
We know that money is tight and CPD budgets are coming under increasing strain; we edit and publish a cost –free educational journal of relevance to languages teachers. It is the most frequently visited part of our website attracting hits worldwide, but we’d like more teachers in Scotland to be aware of it and make use of it, so our first reading text will be Content and Language Integrated Learning : Motivating Students, Motivating Teachers by Prof Do Coyle of Aberdeen University. Do gave the keynote talk at our September national conference and inspired many teachers to think about content and how we approach this in languages classrooms. We’d like to take a closer look at her thoughts on this and make a space to discuss what might be attractive in this idea; what might the barriers be, and where these ideas fits in with Curriculum for Excellence.
Thanks to everyone who has already completed the CPD Survey. The prize draw for those who have done so will take place on January 29th. So if you’ve not filled it in, or know someone else who has yet to do so – don’t delay.