Tag Archives: CPD

The Complete Guide to DATEs – Subject Specific CPD

The Complete Guide to DATEs

Developing approaches to Teaching English
Developing approaches to Teaching &Education

Embedding CPD which allows for the development of subject specific knowledge and subject specific pedagogy. Skip straight to The Concept to avoid my preamble!

About me
I’ve been an English teacCPD modelher for 15 years and Curriculum Leader for 6 years. In January 2015 I was given the opportunity to join the Senior Leadership Team and among other things I have responsibility for NQT, ITT, Strands 2 and 3 CPD (targeted and opt-in), the Teacher Guide and Literacy

CPD menu
Over the last 12 months our school’s CPD has radically changed and developed, building our structure from Shaun Allison’s Perfect Teacher-Led CPD book and including approaches through blogs that have influenced our thinking and ideas from our Academy partner school. CPD is no longer exclusively a top down model but a model where staff are empowered to share, explore and collaborate through a wide range of avenues.

Part of my SLT remit is to increase CPD opportunities for staff in ways appropriate to roles, career stages and interests. There is a pleasing appetite for personal development and engagement in the opt-in programmes (such as 15 Minute Forums, EduBook Club, the Teaching & Learning library) is continually increasing. Directed CPD such as the Inspiring Leader Meeting (where TLR holders – all those who are not Curriculum Leaders – and aspiring TLR holders are trained on things you are expected to know when you have a TLR but no one ever shows you) is going from strength to strength.

As much as the whole school CPD offerings have been going well, at the start of this term I found myself increasingly considering the need for subject specific CPD. This was partly through reading a variety of materials online/in books and partly as a result of staff changes in my own department:

• Reading blogs which highlighted the need for subject specific CPD and the benefits it brings, for example, this from Mark Anderson @ICTEvangelist http://tinyurl.com/nbraaow, many things from @ShaunAllison https://classteaching.wordpress.com/, interesting articles from Joe Kirby, Kev Bartle, Chris Chivers and David Didau on CPD.
• Revisiting The Sutton trust’s Report on ‘What Makes Great Teaching?’ made me consider the importance of a teacher’s subject knowledge to improved outcomes for students, particularly the depth of knowledge needed.
• Evaluating our approach to CPD over the last year and reflecting on how we can take the things we think have worked and translate these in a more bespoke way to different subject areas.
• We’ve had a major change to the make-up of our department. I have a superb team but much of the knowledge and skills that develops from teaching over a number of years has left us – we have NQTs, NQT+1s and overseas trained teachers (experienced but unfamiliar with our texts at KS3 and KS4) making up a significant proportion.
• My super KS3 co-ordinator, Rachel Kilburn, undertook a SWOT-style audit which flagged up implications for KS3/4 teaching as we progress through the year. She found some aspects could be addressed though 1-2-1 help and others from the innovative ‘thinking moments’ cards she developed to aid self-reflection but common threads cropped up which would require an alternative department approach to boost the impact in lessons.
• We have significant changes to English with the new GCSEs. I’ve co-ordinated and organised this from a long and medium term position but was concerned how confident (or apprehensive!) were we with the new poems and texts.
• Other than continuing to create pre-made lessons (which are great but I have always had reservations about how much someone can really take a pre-planned lesson and understand the thinking that has gone on behind it), I pondered how we could use our individual expertise to help others with the various parts of English teaching many admitted fearing.

The Concept
Introduce DATEs to our weekly English Department meetings – developing approaches to teaching English.

Our Approach
• We made the DATEs high status – they are always the first agenda item regardless of anything else that may be deemed urgent or important in that meeting. DATEs can be scheduled to last different periods of time depending on what is needed.
• After Rachel Kilburn established which aspects of English teaching held the most ‘fear factor’ she calendared DATEs for the year ahead, looking at where things would be best placed for maximum effect. She then approached English staff who she knew had specific skills/knowledge in each area to deliver. New staff have also been encouraged to look at where they would like to contribute. Topics such as how to analyse quotations, s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g able students in English lessons, scoring highly on Q4 H Tier, tackling pre-19th Century poems with reluctant learners are all on the schedule.
• I used the AQA enhanced results analysis facility from this summer to determine which question areas we must work on and built in DATEs for these, whether that’s rethinking how we teach it or ensuring staff whose students achieved better than others have the forum to explain how they teach it.
• Where we had spaces to add extra DATEs, we looked at previous highly rated 15 Minute Forums which new staff haven’t been able to see to rework them in an a English specific way.
• We will take other opportunities to have DATEs as/when they will benefit teachers and enhance their knowledge/skills/understanding in a manner that will improve not add to workload.

Types of DATE
• First DATE – the launch session
• Hot DATE – one that covers up-to-date ideas, popular methods receiving twitter/blog time
• Speed DATE – maximum three minutes when something only requires a short, snappy burst
• Cheap DATE – where cost effective extra resources might help the teaching of a complex skill (Poundland Pedagogy/@WallaceIsabella style)
• Dream DATE – talking about a poem or section of a novel: what every English teacher loves to do!
• Double DATE – two in one meeting
• Bad DATE – things to avoid (for example I ran a VAK one last week)
• UnDATEable – the particularly difficult areas to teach that we might try to avoid (grammar for me…) but by looking at them from a different point of view we can see they are worth a go
• Blind DATE – surprise session
• DATE night – a series of sessions in one go

Next Steps

These sessions are proving really popular in the department. Staff are enjoying the opportunity to have the time to really think and talk about the subject in a way that builds confidence, enthusiasm and excitement in lesson planning and delivery. I appreciate there is potential for some limitation – where depth of subject knowledge is needed for great teaching this won’t be resolved in one CPD session. However, it is a start to promoting and developing areas that we’ve perhaps neglected up to this point or just assumed everyone knew on account of the fact they’d been employed to teach English. Also, whilst I have always worked on the mantra of start meetings on time, regardless of who is missing, there has been a noticeable improvement in the promptness of attendance – teachers don’t want to miss any of the DATE!

Over the next half term I’ll be rolling out the concept whole school under the name developing approaches to teaching & education. I’ve already met with the maths department who expressed a strong interest and have already started to map out their sessions. I’ll meet other CLs in pairs to explore how DATEs can be enhance their curriculum area CPD. For me it’s crucial that CLs don’t have anything added on to an already challenging workload without something being taken away so I’ll work alongside them to see how this can work.

Later in the year we’ll have a calendared school DATE night in one of our Monday whole school CPD slots, almost like a mini-TeachMeet but with the focus on departments. We’ll start with a whole staff 15 Minute Forum (we still have some teachers who’ve never attended one so this will give a flavour of what they’re like and hopefully encourage some to come to future ones), progress to department based DATEs and will have a few blind DATEs thrown in for staff who like a bit of spontaneity so they can drop in elsewhere and see what they can pick up!

Next Generation Virtual Learning Environments

Has your Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) become a dumping ground of resources that learners rarely access?   Has the framework of your VLE changed as frequently as its provider’s expiring contract that engagement from staff has plummeted?  What is the point of them anyway?

Their purpose is to allow teachers to share educational materials with their pupils via the web, but there are so many ways we can do this now that it makes you wonder if VLEs could serve a greater purpose.

How about approaching your VLE with a new perspective, why not host your version of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) where learners interact and engage with courses not because they have to, but for the curiosity of learning.  And if your VLE were to host MOOCs, what type of courses would you chose to host?  How exciting could it be to provide learners with a space where they could learn or discover new ideas with one another.  Where would their curiosity take them?

Stefan Caspar, Enhanced Learning Production Manager at the University of Southampton has a passion for VLEs.  He discusses on episode 28 of Inspiration 4 Teachers Podcast Show how schools can improve their VLEs.

Before you listen to Stefan’s suggestions, if you could create your own VLE what would it look like and why would it be better than what you currently have?

If you enjoyed this article please tweet the knowledge forward and share with your community!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6f7k1fV2as&w=560&h=315]



PedaWooWoo – professional development

Pedagooers, here’s a spicy little mix of podcast workshops bursting with tried and tested pedagogical concepts that will add value to your professional toolkit this year!

Unlocking creativity in the classroom




In this podcast workshop you’ll learn:

  • The problems associated with creating activities that challenge learners to think creatively
  • Ideas on developing problem solving activities in the classroom
  • How to improve what we already know and unlock the creativity that exists within our classrooms

Enhancing your teaching toolkit to boost learning



[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GD42YqM9rU&w=560&h=315]

In this podcast workshop you’ll learn:

  • What is Mind Mapping and its power to aid learning
  • How to create a basic Mind Map
  • Using Mind Maps to enhance learning, improve revision and exam technique, improve feedback, assessment and classroom planning


Developing cross curricular lessons; snatching inspiration from other subjects



In this podcast workshop you’ll learn:

  • A practical model for cross curricular lesson planning
  • Ideas on developing differentiated cross curricular learning pathways
  • Overcoming the challenges of cross curricular lesson integration
  • Extending cross curricular learning beyond the classroom


FedEx your Professional Development



In this podcast workshop you’ll learn:

  • How autonomy based motivation models can drive professional learning sessions
  • How to launch your own FedEx professional development model
  • How to maximise the feedback delivery of your school’s professional development FedEx day to add value to the whole school

If you enjoyed this article please tweet the knowledge forward and share it with your community!

Shocking CPD

Two and a half hours of death by PowerPoint and where the only engagement with a hall of teachers were mini exercises, that if you had pre-read the course material you would have found all of the answers. I’ve been subjected to some pretty poor CPD events, and it makes me angry! Our profession works incredibly hard to raise the aspirations of learners and to ensure that we all have a better future, yet we are often subjected to poor CPD! I want to learn and improve my professional development; any teacher worth their salt wants the same.

Ideas Thoughts Knowledge Intelligence Learning Thoughts MeetingBut how do we construct CPD environments where teachers receive rich professional learning? WE have to construct it for ourselves! On episode 26 of the Inspiration 4 Teachers Podcast Show, Bill Lucas Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning and Professor of Learning at the University of Winchester, shares his experience of teacher research groups to divulge his discoveries on developing rich professional learning communities for schools.

Together Bill and I discuss thought-provoking ideas on constructing safe CPD opportunities for teachers to allow them to develop strategies for experimental learning.

Episode take-aways:

  • Developing rich professional learning communities for schools
  • Constructing safe CPD opportunities for teachers to develop strategies for experimental learning
  • Being brave and honest about the true importance of education

What has been your worst and best CPD experience? What would be our commandments for exceptional CPD?  

If you enjoyed this article please tweet the knowledge forward and share with your community!




Everyone has a voice #PedagooLondon

This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting London, not to take photos of architecture, nor to experience the pomp and circumstance of our great British institution. Interestingly, despite the fact that one of the biggest tennis tournaments was taking place in London, I wasn’t anywhere near Wimbledon either. I was a delegate at Pedgaoo London, a TeachMeet organised by Hélène Galdin-O’shea (@hgaldinoshea) that I hadn’t been aware of until quite recently and, honestly, if my ATW (@hayleyearl) hadn’t been presenting there (which now makes her the Most Amazing Teacher Wife!) I wouldn’t have attended nor would I be blogging tonight (sorry Hélène). However, I cannot express my delight in attending and my gratitude towards Hélène for organising the event, supported by Kevin Bartle @kevbartle, to the many speakers and to the delegates also, many of whom I have started to follow and extend my own professional network.

Whilst my ATW was nervous about speaking to her peers, I housed my own anxieties: I would be in a room with delegates with extensive levels of knowledge and experience compared to my 7 years as a TA, Unqualified Teacher and Student, how could I participate in the anticipated discussions? Listening to Phil Stock (@joeybagstock) and then Chris Waugh (@edutronic_net), I was filled with awe; these two guys could hold an audience with musings of wisdom, and evidence of practice that I hope to achieve one day in my career. Maybe I had a right to be nervous, these people were eminently worthy of their podium position at the front of one of the IoE’s classrooms, what could I offer in discussion?

However, these fears were somewhat alleviated when I entered the room and realised that everyone was there for the same reason, to learn, share and develop professionally, a common expectation. What’s more, when I shared opinions, I found I was not alone, nor were they dismissed, people were interested in my thoughts and could relate and, dare I say, agree.

The day was a resounding success for everyone involved, for my ATW with her new-found desire to speak publicly (see www.musingsofateacher.wordpress.com) but selfishly, for me too. I’m lucky enough to have lots of CPD opportunities, formerly as a Schools Direct student, now as an NQT and as a Teacher at a forward thinking, staff investing school. Notwithstanding the existing opportunities, I cannot advocate enough the professional and personal rewards available from attending TeachMeets. The TeachMeets don’t have to be as big as Pedgaoo London or Northern Rocks (which will be in the diary next year!): try to meet locally in cluster schools to discuss progress and experiences. Meeting with colleagues of various levels of seniority, form varying backgrounds (primary and secondary) and with different levels of experience is an invaluable form of CPD. I’d even go as far as saying that I would happily organise PedagooGlos if enough are interested (will book ATW first!)

Finally, from this weekend’s experience, never underestimate the value of your own knowledge too: everyone has an opinion, everyone has experience, everyone deserves a voice.

Boarding Pass – @FernwoodDT

I saw this idea on Twitter originally and like most of our resources it was amended to our students. The concept is simple the ‘Boarding Pass’ is given to students as they enter the classroom and are instructed to fill in their name and ‘One fact from last lesson’ the teacher then goes through some of the answers with students writing them on the board. G&T students and students that finish early are encouraged to write down a ‘key word’ from last lesson too. Again these are reviewed and shared on the board. This is a great way to link previous learning.

Lesson objectives/todays outcomes are then presented to the class by the teacher. Students are asked to digest this information and fill in an individual ‘target for todays lesson’ and ‘what level I aim to achieve’ these are kept by the student throughout the lesson.

At the end of the lesson students are asked to fill in the ‘Departure Card’ (which is eventually torn off via a perforate edge). Students write ‘One thing they have learnt’ and ‘What level did you achieve’ based on the learning in todays lesson. Students then love tearing off the Departure Card with the perforated edge and handing it to the teacher as they leave the lesson. The ‘Departure Card’ can then be used at the beginning of the next lesson again linking prior learning/showing progression and/or stuck in a work book. Questions can be changed to suit the lesson/subject I imagine it could be used in all subject areas it has worked particularly well in our schools MFL lessons too. This shows fantastic knowledge and understanding of a topic in an engaging yet simple method!

Here is a link to a presentation that shows how the boarding pass is used/presented to the students – Boarding Pass – PowerPoint

Here is a link to the guillotine we use – http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/A4-Paper-Trimmer-4-in-1-Card-Crease-Wavy-Cut-Straight-Cut-Perforation-/281181932948?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item4177bfcd94

See @FernwoodDT and @Me77ors on Twitter https://twitter.com/FernwoodDT for more ideas and resources

Any questions/feedback please email m.mellors@fernwoodschool.org.uk 🙂

The future of CPD

We have come a long way in our understanding and experience of CPD. When we began teaching, our experience of CPD was sitting in a bare, draughty hall at the end of the school day, preparing to be enthralled by whatever speaker the head had decided we were going to listen to for an hour and a half. Since we didn’t know any different, we attended these sessions dilligently, taking notes and trying hard to maintain focus for what seemed liked an eternity. After these CPD sessions, we would come back to work the next day, scan over our notes and vow to try out the latest thing we were told would make us outstanding teachers – except we never did. This thing called ‘teaching’ got in the way, and besides, no one ever seemed to check to see if we were following up on the CPD we’d received so it fell to the bottom of our pile of things to do.

Once or a twice a year, we would be lucky enough to go on a course. We always tried to get ourselves on courses run by Osiris. First, they always had the best presenters and, secondly, they had great lunches. N.B. Never underestimate the power of a great lunch to make teachers choose a certain course provider! We have been lucky enough to experience fantastic CPD led by thought-provoking and knowledgeable educators: Jackie Beere; Andy Griffith; Zoe Elder and Claire Gadsby to name the very best. These were always great days out and we would return to our schools brimming over with ideas and determined to implement them with gusto. However, there are serious drawbacks to these one-off events. They are expensive (and there is precious little money left at the moment in most school budgets) and it’s still a version of sitting in a big room listening to someone tell you how to be better with the aid of a whizzy PowerPoint.

So that led us to our next CPD model: twilight sessions. When we were working together, our school got rid of INSET days and opted for after school twilight sessions that staff could sign up for and attend throughout the year. The school championed this as ‘personalising CPD’ and giving teachers ‘autonomy’ over their teaching needs. On the surface, this model seemed much better; groups were smaller, teachers had chosen a particular session so they were semi on-board already and there was much more discussion amongst teachers. However, we couldn’t help but have this nagging feeling that something was missing… Eventually, we worked out that there was still no way to judge whether teachers were getting anything out of these sessions; in jargon-speak, we couldn’t ‘measure impact’.

After spending a long time sitting down and thinking where we could go from here, we decided on establishing a group of Lead Learners. These teachers had been chosen because they were excellent practioners who were always happy to share their ideas with others and wanted to seek out new ways to develop their practice. We looked at the school’s development plan and decided that we would focus on the following areas: AfL; Stretch and Challenge; Marking and Feedback; Inclusive Classrooms; and Independent and Collaborative Learning. The idea was that teachers would sign up for one area run by two Lead Learners, stick with it for the year and track their progress by experimenting with different strategies with their classes.

Although we were much happier with this model of CPD, it still felt like CPD was something that happened a few times a year and could be ticked off to show you were meeting your performance managament targets. We were looking for something less top-down, less formal, more frequent. And then we found Twitter.

Twitter has been a revolution for the pair of us. At first we felt a bit hesistant: ‘What do we do?’ ‘Who are we allowed to tweet?’ ‘How can I say what I want to say in just 140 characters?’ ‘What do these hashtags mean?’ We are eternally grateful to our former colleague Aisling Cowan @CaldiesEnglish who persuaded us to dip our toes into the world of Twitter. She said we wouldn’t regret it and she wasn’t wrong there! So far, we have been on Twitter for  just over two weeks and we have not felt this level of excitement for a long time. We can’t wait to read the blogs of @LearningSpy, @Fullonlearning, @ICTEvangelist, @shaun_allison, @HuntingEnglish@Joe_Kirby and @TotallyWired77 to name but a few. There are literally thousands of great ideas being shared by teachers for no other reason but for a love of teaching and wanting students to get the best possible educational experince. There is something rather humbling about being part of this Twitter community.

Back to the original premise of this post: what is the future of CPD? We believe that teachers are missing a trick if they’re not on Twitter. Schools should be actively encouraging all members of staff to sign up and receive free, daily inspiration from like-minded professionals. There is still a place for more traditional forms of CPD but there is also plenty of room for quick bursts of CPD provided by Twitter. Twitter has also led us to Pedagoo and TeachMeets. We are looking forward to attending our first #TMLondon in May and putting faces to some of those names on Twitter!

Finally, the notion of the Flipped Classroom is being discussed by many teachers at the moment. The larger question of what role technology has in improving learning is asked by tweachers every day on Twitter. What we would add to this discussion is what role technology has to play in teachers’ CPD. Perhaps we should be flipping CPD and offering videos and other multimedia resources to our staff. After all, students appreciate being able to pause and rewind the videos as many times as they so wish – we’re pretty sure a library of videos made by teachers for teachers would be much appreciated for those who may just have nodded off for a brief moment at the back of the room after a long day in the classroom!!! – [Check out our new sister site for this, TeachMeet TV! Ed.]

Although we don’t have all the answers on what constitutes as influential CPD, we are confident that those teachers who find inspiration on Twitter, talking to supportive colleagues across the globe, will ultimately be getting a lot more out of their CPD than those who are sitting at the back of the hall waiting for the slideshow to begin.

Radio #EDUtalk @ #ACTS2013: Kenny Pieper and Neil Winton on Pedagoo

Kenny Pieper and Neil Winton on Radio EDUtalk


At the end of the ACTS conference I had a chat to Kenny Pieper and Neil Winton about Pedagoo, one of the most vibrant communities of teachers online.

One of several recording that we streamed from the Association of Chartered Teachers Conference at the Stirling Management Centre on Saturday 2nd February. These are being archived on EDUtalk

There is an open invitation to anyone interested in Education to publish audio on EDUtalk. This can be done in several ways. Pedagooers are most welcome!

TeachMeet:Scottish Learning Fringe Poster and Flyer

Screen Shot 2012-05-06 at 13.48.13.png

There is now a Poster and Flyer for this September’s first Scottish Learning Fringe.
They are available to download as a ZIP file from THIS LINK.

We’d love it if you could print one out and put it up in your staffroom/base… or even better, pass it to the person responsible for CPD in your school!