Tuesday, 28 February 2012

What makes good quality CPD?

I have been inspired before by a chat topic on twitter via the hashtag #addcym (education wales) and I have been again this evening as the topic was about what makes good cpd.

There are four factors in my opinion: something I can use, personalised, allows me to reflect and be something I don't already know.

I have already bemoaned the lack of cpd at my school in a previous blog post and I written about how I have taken control of that and managed to put together things that are concrete to put on my CV. However, what is the point of cpd if it is poor? It just becomes another waste of time.

Good quality cpd is not easy to achieve on a whole school level, I will admit that. Making it good quality would mean making it personalised and although it is something we are to strive for as teachers I don't believe that being truly personalised is possible. How is it possible that a visiting speaker giving information about autism can take account for all the range of knowledge in the room? I find this with ICT training, it always seems to be at a level below my own knowledge. However, I would list personalisation as one of my factors that make cpd of a higher quality.

As part of that personalisation if cpd is going to be any use to me then I have to learn something new. This isn't very easy to achieve, or at least it hasn't been for me until recently. (Until I discovered that you can use twitter for better things than finding out about the latest celebrity rants. See my previous blog posts on twitter and creating your own cpd). I find cpd provided by school to be on topics I have already investigated and didactic so don't get into the "how", so I don't learn much.

What is possible in any cpd session is reflection and I would insist that any good session allows for and encourages this. When I ran a session for science teachers in the past I gave lesson objectives to staff to help them think about specific lessons and better focus their reflections. Then we discussed what we thought in a plenary session.

Lastly, in any cpd session that I participate in I want ideas that I can take straight back to my classroom and implement. So it needs to be clear enough for me to understand, have resources that I can use if I am unsure and be something I am not already doing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

How Science Works - the implementation

Following the CPD model of The Cramilington Learning Village and other schools we have an Action Enquiry Question to work on throughout the year. I have selected "How to implement How Science Works in the Curriculum".

This breaks down into several other questions: what is "how science works"? Why is it important to teach about it? How is teaching "how science works" different from what we do already? What changes do we need to make in order to implement "how science works" in the science curriculum?

I read the book in the image above about how science works and was completely sold on the importance of adding it to our curriculum and that did involve making a shift in how I think about the aim of science education.

Firstly "how science works" needs to be integrated into the curriculum and not a bolt-on. I agree with this, but it is hard to get staff to see that and not try and reach how science works by doing stand alone lessons that involve researching a topic or carrying out a full investigation with only a tenuous link to the topic being studied. For example in our key stage 3 scheme of work we have research lessons and data lessons. The objectives of these lessons often don't support the learning or consolidation of knowledge and are contrived; they feel more like ticking a box than supporting the engagement of students. The research lessons can be boring and the data lessons formulaic.

"How science works" needs to be more than doing some practicals and talking about a science related news story like global warming. It should help students become scientifically literate, and by that I mean help students understand what makes science "science".

The GCSE specifications and resources like Boardworks do try and address what science is. Schemes of work, resources and specifications ask that students be aware of the implications of science through things like the advantages and disadvantages of kidney transplants, and show how scientific ideas have developed for example the Big Bang Theory. Do we concentrate on this or only teach the bits that are examined in a way that kids will remember? If we do, is it enough to just expose students in that way?

Considering all of this, my main objective when teaching how science works is to ensure that students don't think that scientific ideas are fixed, but constantly change when new ideas are presented.

The best lesson I have taught on this was from the segue scheme about developing the theory of plate tectonics, my post-16 students see this for themselves when the turn on the news and tune into what is going on at CERN. However, it is hard to get it across to students when we teach it using language like "Newton's 1st LAW".

Finally, I really hope that I have managed to get across that science is constantly evolving and ever more complicated to a group of students I have taught from year 7 to year 11, and that this will help them appreciate science no matter whether they choose to study it further.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 18 February 2012

What do I need what I start a new job?

I have been asked by the Head's PA at my new school to compile a list of the things that I would like for the day that I will go and visit. I will be starting as Head of Faculty.

Before I compile that list I want to think carefully about why I will need the information I ask for. My major worry is that I won't hit the ground running and put the faculty back while I learn the ropes of the new school. I know that I am capable of being a good head of faculty if I have a strategy and a good understanding of how things need to move forward. So I need to find out what is working well in the faculty and what needs to be improved.

How do I do that? More importantly how do I do it while inspiring confidence from my new colleagues and not irritating them.

The list in the ASE/SEP resource pack for Heads of Faculty involves
  • School development plan 
  • School handbook  
  • Departmental handbook, including health and safety policies and name of radiation protection officer (if necessary) 
  • 2010-11 and 2011-12 department development plans
  • Exam results and any analysis student data/tracking within science department 
  • Copies of any internal/external reviews on the department 
  • Whole department timetable 
  • Schemes of work 
  • Access to class lists 
  • Information on current budget information on how to bid for capitation 
  • Another head of faculty to buddy up with 
  • Performance management procedure 
  • Observation cycles
  • Copies of minutes of departmental meetings if available
  • Job descriptions of the post holders I line manage
My main question though is what is expected of me. Will I be able to get that information from paperwork?