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Interactive teaching and learning blog

Developing practice (2): The i2i Outstanding Teacher Programme

January 14th 2014

After a long day's teaching back in September I rushed along the corridor of, worried I was going to be late for my first OTP session. Originally I had felt privileged to have been selected to join the programme, and had been optimistic about the idea of external training specifically designed to develop my teaching. Now, as I weaved through the excited groups of students, all heading home, I thought slightly sceptically about the programme:  Would I be too busy for this? Would it help? Could my time be better spent planning lessons and marking work? Would the session finish early? What resources or gimmicks were they going to provide us with to magically turn us into outstanding practitioners? I tried to push these thoughts from my head as I bounded up the stairs to the school conference room, taking them two at a time, and arrived (punctually) to the i2i Outstanding Teacher Programme. 

As I strolled calmly into the room (only profuse perspiration and deep breathing breaking the facade) I quickly took stock of my surroundings. There was no PowerPoint, no pompous consultant standing tall at the front of the room; the chairs and tables were arranged in a circle and there was a vast numbers of brightly coloured Post-Its scattered about. This wasn't going to be like the normal courses of general CPD that I'd attended. 

After the first session, I felt enthused, revitalised, and empowered to improve my own teaching.

What we had done in that session didn't feel revolutionary but something had changed; I felt like I was leaving an exciting bubble of supportive collaboration. I had been surrounded by a fantastic group of practitioners who genuinely cared about being the best they could be. My next task was to keep up this motivation to excel as I tried to take what we had discussed and put it into practice. As it turned out, it wasn't a challenge after all. In fact, it was quite the opposite; I found I couldn't get the ideas out of my head. I was slowly becoming more adventurous as I experimented with the ideas we had discussed in the session, and as I developed and built on them from lesson to lesson. 

As we moved through the programme we were constantly challenged to reflect on our own teaching. This attitude started to become habit and I became more reflective during and after lessons. I started to challenge myself to find more effective and inspiring ways of teaching topics using the simple approaches introduced to us. During the sessions we stripped teaching and learning back to its basics and rebuilt it using simple fundamentals that we agreed on through focused discussion. It was clear from the beginning that we were not doing this for Ofsted, but instead for ourselves and for the students in our classes. We were motivated and given the tools we needed to improve our own practice. It was a classic case of having the door opened and us having to want to walk through it. 

The coaching side of the programme was fascinating, not only learning the skills of coaching, but practising them on one another. I found, through the thoughtful and challenging questioning of my colleagues, that I was solving problems I had struggled with since starting my teaching. In return I was given the tools and techniques to challenge and support my peers, many of them more experienced than me.  The coaching sessions broke up the course, separating the teaching and learning sessions. Rather than interrupt the flow of the programme, however, it complemented the teaching and learning element, giving us a chance to pause and reflect and compound all that we had done so far, as well as ironing out each others' issues. 

Looking back on the concerns I'd had before starting the programme, I feel naive to have thought I was too busy or that my time could be better spent elsewhere. It put into perspective for me the importance of focussing on personal professional development; it's an investment into improvement. I feel it has had a huge impact on my outlook, teaching and in reducing planning time.

On reflection, I think I was too busy not to go.



Filed under: Development Posted at 07:04

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