Lately there has been a lot of chat about closing the gap for children, how do we close the gap? How do we eradicate the situations that will prevent children engaging with education? How do we, how do we , how do we……as Elvis would say, is it time for a little less conversation and a little more action?
Most teachers just want the time to engage with new things, consolidate. Current things and learn from past things. Time. Yes, that’s it. That is what it takes to help teachers to help children. Yet, it is the precious commodity we just don’t seem to have.
However, I am one such teacher who has benefited hugely from the time given to me to improve my teaching and learning.
Are you sitting comfortably? (no,not comfortably numb)
Once upon a time, in two academic years I was given some time off.
The first time was an extra week after the summer holidays…..cheeky I know. I was volunteering with a homeless project in Manchester for a few weeks and tour term went back earlier. The DHT at the time was one of the kindest, sharpest men I have ever worked with. He spoke to me about it, was genuinely interested as to my motivations and listened to my thoughts. I was already involved with the homeless and worked with senior pupils to get them involved too. The DHT could see it was very important to me and what I could bring back to the school, so a week was granted.I am sure it would not have been as easily supported had I not had a supportive PT and department.
The next stint was in the same year this time I was off to spend my Easter holiday on Ecuador. My friend had just moved out there to work with the missions for 5 years and I was seriously contemplating a career move as well. again, I was given a few days to make sure I could get flights etc. the rationale being that it was good not only linguistically but pastorally as well, and of course, I would have lots to bring back to the school.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what it was I was expected to bring back to the school…..a stuffed donkey? Maracas?
And then the ultimate gift in CPD. A sabbatical.
Now you may be thinking judging by my ranting or 50 shades of black and white approach to the world that they were desperate to get rid of me.
I had my resignation ready, only to be told that I would be granted a year. I would have lots to bring back to the profession.
However, I don’t think the profession was quite ready for my new-found dysentery body.
Every time I came back from an adventure, I had renewed energy, outlook and take on things. Not only because I had been investing in myself, but because I realised that people were investing in me. Knowing that someone gets your brand of madness and also encourages you to follow your heart is something else. It certainly allowed me to pursue personal and professional goals and took the itchiness from the feet, for a wee while. I didn’t look upon any of these adventures as CPD because they were personal things I wanted to do……but they were so entwined with my teaching that there was a direct impact on my out look and ability. Every time I was supported by middle and senior managers.Outward looking, forward thinking and above all genuinely interested in what was at the heart of my teaching.People who could stand back from the arguments about coffee cups and chairs in the staff room. People who knew that happy staff meant happy weans.
Sitting on my derrière looking at PowerPoint slides does not give me the same butterflies.
CPD – creative professional dalliance?
Not at all.
It started with a CONVERSATION, followed by a PRACTICAL engagement in activity and continues to be a DEVELOPMENT point……even after all these years.