Leave me my twilight hours

Penny Ward

Twilight . . . connotations of gentle dusks, romantic sunsets, balmy breezes. A glass of wine to look forward to, after a full and busy day. So was it fair to land those hellishly boring, CPD jumping through hoops, two-hour-detentions-for-teachers training sessions with such a glorified name?

Anybody else hate them? And I'm keen - I believe in in-service training but not at 4.30pm, when I'm tired, hungry and just want to go home. Or even would rather stay on at school and catch up with the backlog. The only thing that rings true is the glass of wine to look forward to, and the full and heavy day that went before.

I think that often the facilitator feels ill at ease, and either has too much or too little to say. In spite of years of teaching experience, they will misjudge the session and spend too much on warm-ups (just get on it with, right, and let us away early). Or make that fateful mistake of letting on that they will give us the printout of all the overheads afterwards. Give them to me now, and I'm offski . . . because I've lost count of how often someone has ponderously read out what is up there. This is death by overhead, I tell you.

When it is a good in-service, and they happen just often enough to entice me out, everyone is energised. On a bad one, the dispirited audience swings on the chairs, sighs heavily, twiddles their hair or talks to their neighbour. Recognise something? How about 3C on a Friday?

I am the world's worst. My expectations are always way too high, and I'm doomed to disappointment. Once I was reprimanded because, when I signed the register, I registered my protest at having to do that by scrawling it illegibly. He looked at it, looked at me, made some caustic comment and ignored me totally for the next two hours. And reader - I didn't like that! Another lesson in the learning.

I have been on some fantastic days, when the training has been so good that it has changed my practice for ever. But the difference is that it is produced and delivered by professionals who know exactly what they are talking about, having often done the groundbreaking research themselves.

It's worth a hundred quid, and far more time effective than trailing out to five twilights when even the facilitator is flagging.

If we are attending these just so we can claim we have done our CPD, then we are wasting time and money. If we are doing it because we really want to learn, then let's demand a better quality of training. I remember as a student being told that if you can't teach, teach teachers . . . it seems little has changed.

Or are we just all so cynical that we are the facilitator's nightmare, not the other way round?

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Penny Ward

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