The first school I worked in had a small science staff room next to the prep room where we would sit at lunch and break. We would share our issues and ideas in a very candid way. The kids were hard work and any support was well received. The push in the school was for better teaching as the management believed that better teaching would mean better engagement, behaviour and results. This is true, but as staff we resented the insinuation that our poor teaching was the cause of all the problems within the school. However, the result was we discussed teaching and learning a lot and ideas and advice were shared freely.
Moreover, in the first school I worked in we had schemes of work and we shared all our resources, we were a team with only a few people on the outside keeping their ideas and resources apart from the rest of us.
In my second school we didn't have an area where we could meet at break and lunch. We stayed in our classrooms. The head didn't like the idea of staff congregating out of his knowledge (at least that was our opinion). We did have an AST though who would arrange training days to ensure we talked about assessment or group work. She ensured that the schemes of work were of excellent quality, with lots of different types of activity and levelled outcomes. This helped to share practice.
In this school, according to our SEF, I use the schemes of work to share practice and we have informal discussions. None of which is that true or particularly consistent when it does it happen. Too many barriers and not enough expectations. The only thing I regularly do is send emails out with ideas and links, or photocopy journal articles and give them to people I think might be interested. Not sure the recipients care, or take in what I send. No one send things back to me.
When I move to my forth I will be responsible for ensuring the faculty share ideas and act on what they learn. I will be the front. I need to get back in the habit of discussing learning and I need to make sure that the department act as a team following my vision and pulling together to help each other improve.
I intend to start with the scheme of work, make sure we include various ideas we have had in them. A "live" document. I also need to look at how we use departmental meetings, are we talking about where we store the clamp stands or something more useful? I know that my new school has policies on assessment, so using policies that support good pedagogy should also help share good practice.
I must use my time in the final term to find out about what goes on in my faculty and build trusting relationships with the staff I work with so that I can have discussions about what is happening in the classrooms without them feeling they are being judged.
I have been able to share in the successes of other teachers via twitter and I hope this will make me more open to giving and receiving ideas on the best practice of science teaching.
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