Timetables for 2021-22 are in, teacher-assessed grades are done (for now…) and the summer is nearly here. The challenge of 2020-21 is almost over.
Most staff and students are looking forward to a long (and necessary) rest after the most difficult year in living memory, both in and out of school. With all hopes resting on 2021-22 being more normal, middle and senior leaders are starting to prepare training and CPD for August, September and beyond.
As online platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom have become embedded in our classrooms and lives over the past 18 months, the way we access all elements of teaching has changed immeasurably. From parents’ evenings to team meetings, we have all become used to levels of flexibility and efficiency that may have seemed impossible a few years ago.
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With this in mind, what does CPD look like in 2021-22? With so many of us moving online for so much of our roles, how will this online migration impact training from now on?
Is online teacher CPD here to stay?
The advantages of online CPD are obvious: we can complete it from home, it’s more accessible, there is access to many more training options as external trainers can join from anywhere in the country and staff, on the whole, enjoy the flexibility.
Having said this, there is the obvious saturation of online resources and training and it can be difficult to find the “right” resource. Is there anything that hasn’t been covered or trained via online platforms? After 18 months of lockdown, social distancing, self-isolation and uncertainty, many staff would prefer to be back in schools and colleges to spend the day working with colleagues.
But is there a happy middle ground? Can we have the best of both worlds?
One of the silver linings to the Covid cloud has been how colleagues from all sectors, at all levels, have collaborated to provide new and engaging resources to support students. This is the key to CPD in 2021-22.
With new online tools to help us collaborate in more effective ways, we must make sure that we continue this collaboration into the next academic year.
This doesn’t mean we have to follow the models of previous years, where CPD is a bespoke event (generally not fitted to the relevant context), scheduled over a full day and then forgotten until the next day of CPD. In 2021-22, we need to put CPD front and centre of everything we do, and we must make sure it is more collaborative than ever.
The importance of day-to-day collaboration
As much as one-off courses and training can be enormously valuable, it is the day-to-day collaboration and sharing of best practice that makes the biggest impact. By providing opportunities for staff to “look over the fence” and take a peek at what is happening in classrooms across their school or college, we can provide opportunities for meaningful collaboration and continue to support the development and improvement of teaching, learning and assessment.
This can be as easy as asking a group of teachers to bring a selection of work and complete an informal work scrutiny, offering constructive feedback to colleagues and peers. This low-threat, high-impact scenario helps teachers to see best practice and potentially identify areas for improvement in their own practice.
Peer observation provides another opportunity for staff to collaboratively share best practice by focusing on an element of TLA that they would like to improve, sharing this and inviting peers and colleagues into lessons for feedback. Done well – and creating a safe environment for feedback – this can support teachers' improvement and confidence.
Similarly, facilitating group action research projects or opportunities for staff to collaboratively lead a cross-school or cross-college project or strategy provide excellent opportunities for sharing best practice and CPD.
With few certainties around 2021-22, and so much time lost due to Covid, we must continue to collaborate and share best practice, and use the tools we have mastered in the past year to do this.
Jonny Kay is the head of teaching and learning at a college in the North East. He tweets at @jonnykayteacher