Leading The Standard For Teachers Professional Development

July 2016 saw the publication from the DFE of the new TeacherStandards_July2016.

THIS is what the new standards suggest to me. I have highlighted some specific detail in the link, some of which I would like to comment on.

A teachers professional development in my view should be based on 2 main objectives. The first objective should be set around how that specific person would like to develop their career and to learn how to improve so that they can excel at their craft of being a teacher. The second should be based around how to ensure the aspirational progress of all learners within that teachers care (very much linked in to the first objective). This objective should also promote the priorities of the school in which they work. These objectives are often broken down further as part of an appraisal cycle. However, I do believe that those who lead professional development in schools should¬†‘balance school, subject and individual teacher priorities‘ with sensitivity and challenge to ensure successful outcomes for ALL teaching staff and learners.

These are the the excerpts that I would like to make a comment on from the document:

‘A shared commitment for teachers to support one another to develop so that pupils benefit from the highest quality teaching’.

‘Ofsted put it their September 2015 handbook, “a motivated, respected and effective teaching staff” in “a culture that enables pupils and staff to excel”. Meaning that leadership not only prioritise the operational aspects of teacher development’.

‘Activities to form part of a sustained programme, typically for more than two terms… includes opportunities for experimentation, reflection, feedback and evaluation’.

‘effective leadership of professional development… develops genuine professional trust’.

I believe that these are the most important points in the document due to the strong leadership that would be required to make professional development a positive ongoing experience. I have seen, and have anecdotally been told of, leadership in schools which may struggle to promote a culture which enables these professional development standards to be an effective source of improvement. It could be argued that schools where leadership does not harness a culture of professional trust use professional development in a negative way, in direct conflict to using it as a positive tool to embed sustainable improvement.

I have often talked about how leadership should promote collegiate approaches in their schools where colleagues work together to improve towards a common goal. Ultimately this is to provide the best standard of education possible and to achieve challenging outcomes. One final important comment to evaluate is that teachers should be encouraged to take risks and reflect upon improvements that need to be made within a supportive environment. At my current school this was very much the flavour of a recent training session where the focus was planning towards the new academic year and the encouragement of taking risks within our observed teaching.

THIS is what I hope is the genuine way forward for the continual professional development for ALL teachers.



‘Growth Mindset’ or Common Sense?

THIS is about about Growth Mindset and it’s not the first time that I have shared thoughts on this educational approach. Firstly I am a great believer in the concept. I practice this concept in every lesson that I teach and with every child that I come in to contact with in my role as a teacher. My only problem is that over the last few years it seems to have been hailed as the new great approach that all teachers should practice. Again I would agree with this… but its not new! In my view all teachers if they are doing their job properly should be demonstrating this approach every day.

It is this article that has got me thinking. It is written by Carol Dweck who revisits her research on Growth Mindset. Although this is from September 2015, it made me think about the amount of school leaders I read about who discuss Growth Mindset as the new big thing. I cant help feeling that the research is just common sense.

Surely the point about being a teacher is to grow a young persons mind and always has been? To get their brain working harder than ours is what we should always be trying to achieve? To try new things, to think that did not work and to re-try again in a different way to solve the specific problem should be a mindset adopted as often as possible. That is what we, as teachers do when reviewing our practice and lessons that have gone well or not so well?

If what I am saying is true then we are not only encouraging but practising growth mindset every day in our roles as teachers. What we must do therefore as teachers is to continue this common sense approach to teaching and encourage our young people to adopt a growth mindset. Remember though, we all display a fixed mindset on occasions and that is not the end of the world. However a common sense growth mindset should be a default state we try and return to. It may also help our well-being as it helps us to approach difficulties in a positive way? Again, THIS is just Common Sense!