In peak condition

8th April 2005 at 01:00
It's up to you to keep on the professional development track

Get as much as you can out of your last term on induction. I cannot tell you how much you will miss it. Speak to any teacher in their second or third year and they will tell you that you should make the most of the opportunities and protection that come with your induction year. You'll have professional development throughout your career, but it's heavily weighted towards your first year, which means there won't be a lot for you next year.

If your headteacher doesn't agree that professional development is a key factor in the motivation and retention of teachers, here are some arguments to use. It should help you to be more effective so pupils learn and behave better and achieve higher standards; it improves retention because you'll want to stay; it contributes to a positive ethos where people feel valued and motivated; and saves money - it's expensive recruiting and inducting someone new into a school.


How can you make sure that observations of your teaching in the last term show you at your best? Really go for it and learn from the feedback. From now on, you'll only be observed once a year for performance management, so make the most of someone's insight into your work. Push your observer to be rigorous with you, in helping you get better. Too often, people's comments are superficial. Ask for an observation by the headteacher, if that hasn't already happened. After all, it's their judgment that counts on the assessment form.


See whether there are any gaps or weaknesses in your practice against the standards - remember, you are being judged against the ones for qualified teacher status and the six induction standards. You are also being inducted into the whole profession, not just particular classes in a particular school. For instance, you may not teach many pupils with English as an additional language, or with special needs, but you should still know how to identify, plan and assess such pupils, so you might want to do some reading on the topic and look for opportunities within and outside the school to find out more. Do you feel confident that you could cope with a new arrival to the country, or with a child with severe special needs?

It may be that your school's provision in these and other areas is less than perfect. I can think of schools where the individual education plans have not been written for more than 18 months, and a headteacher who doesn't think the staff need to know about children for whom English is not their first language.

I've met a teacher who thought that "Indian" and "Hindu" were languages, and that if a non-English speaking child arrived in her class from some war-torn country she would teach them the alphabet rather than basic useful words such as "toilet". Some people's ignorance is shocking, but you're going to push yourself to greater things, aren't you?

Once you've chosen the area you want to develop in, you need to set a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) objective targetgoal (don't get tied up in the semantics). Remember the KISS rule: keep it short and simple, or keep it simple, stupid!

Be creative in selecting the activity that will get you nearest your goal.

Look around your school - there is often someone you can learn from so ask if they can be freed up to work with you. Advanced skills teachers (ASTs) can be used in this way. There are hidden riches among local teachers, and you won't be able to get away with the excuse that the new teaching strategy (or whatever it is) won't work with your kids.

When you have done some professional development, don't forget to evaluate it. Like the plenary in a lesson, it's a way to firm up what you have learned. What have you learned? What are your significant achievements? How can you use this new learning to help your pupils?


New teachers often ask me what should be in their portfolio or induction folder. Teachers need somewhere to put all their professional development and inductionperformance management related paperwork.

A portfolio is useful in chronicling where one has been and planning where one wants to go. Many new teachers start theirs in training. See it as a receptacle for all references, job descriptions, objectives, actions plans, reflections and assessments that can stay with you for your whole career and be used for induction, performance management, and job applications.

It's very easy to become frustrated by what you are not achieving rather than by what you are achieving. And, it's so easy to forget.

The portfolio is one of those ways to look at what you have achieved. Some people keep theirs electronically, but I'm not sure where they put their lovely thank you cards from parents and pupils.

* 'I love looking back through my professional development folder to see how far I've come'

Secondary NQT

* 'I've just realised that I've wasted most of the Spring term's induction time catching up on marking and planning. My old induction tutor would have timetabled me to do really useful things, but my present one is giving me too much freedom!'

Primary NQT in Lambeth

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