This September marked my 1st year anniversary as an Assistant Head Teacher. This blog provided me with space to write down my reflections and a way of channelling what I need to focus on. The comments and responses to my posts by teachers across the Twittersphere were invaluable.
I have now started my 8th year of teaching. Therefore, it is fair to say I have sat through many, many INSET days at the start of the academic year.
INSET= In Service Education and Training. So, in theory during a school day INSET should provide us with learning and tools to become better teachers. Yet, I have sat through many in service TALK at us days. Where we were lectured to for hours about things we should know or should be doing. That indeed we do know and are doing. Many staff sit aimlessly wondering whats for lunch and most importantly are sat thinking, when will I have time to prepare and get ready for the impeding stomp of new students/classes and topics.
I have a dream, that one day INSET will be motivating and inspiring! I want to be motivated, I want to be inspired. I want a pep talk like one of the American movies! I want to leave pumped up, not deflated thinking oh. My. God. (I also want time to meet my team, new teachers, sort out my emails, print my resources and so on!)
This 1st September INSET day alongside my colleagues, I delivered my portion of the INSET day (click here for my INSET day presentation) training/coaching/meeting to all of the staff at my school. There was some information about data, tutoring, whole school literacy and numeracy. Along with the compulsory safe guarding and heath and safety training.
Unlike many other years and many other schools, all staff involved in delivering their presentations this year started with a common phrase.
‘There are no new initiatives this year.’
Now, what is the power of these words?
Firstly, staff perked up instantly, smiled, cheered (internally) and wanted to listen. Weird. Considering you would imagine staff would want to listen to something new, unheard of, surely that would be more important? You could physically sense a sigh of relief, staff looked at me and smiled. They looked pleased. Certain members of staff come over to me and said to me, it was refreshing that we were continuing to trust the ability of the staff.
During our INSET members of SLT sit amongst the staff in our departments. Whilst we interacted and engaged with teachers and support staff they told us that they were happy we were not introducing something new, maybe something catchy, something reactionary. We were pleased we were not too.
So, why nothing new? I believe we need to give staff time to see/hear, use, embed, tweak and use more. Basically, time to build on their practice. Time to do better? I also believe that schools shouldn’t jump on the bandwagon. This applies to both new initiatives and the denigration of old initiatives too. I believe schools know their ‘customers’ better than anybody else. Therefore they should decide on what is right for their students. I read a lot on Twitter about how bad certain schools are, how wrong they are to promote certain ‘things.’ I am certain that all schools do so with the best of intentions. However, I am also certain some leaders are unorganised, are clueless and like anybody else unprepared.
Our INSET days were also successful because we built in adequate time for staff to prepare. We allowed them to meet in their teams. We asked them to reflect on what was shared during our whole staff briefings. The organiser, @CheneyLearning made sure that all presenters were mindful of the amount of talk time they would be projecting on the staff!
I know, if I ever make it, if I ever become a Head Teacher then I too will ensure my staff have enough time to plan. Enough time to catch up and enough time to share stories from the summer holidays with each other.
This way of working has also continued throughout our roles in SLT. The Head hasn’t given me a new role, has allowed me time to embed my changes. To build on my work and get better at what I have done…
On another note, we are currently looking at ‘keeps’; things to show staff that they are valued here at our school. For example, we have built a gym over the summer holidays for all members of staff to use free before and after school. Does your school do anything like this? I would love to know…?