Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and in particular, INSET Days can vary from the sublime, to the downright awful, and often falls somewhere in-between.
The “staff costs” for an INSET day in a primary school can easily be £2,000 (10 teachers x £200) and for secondary schools may be as high as £20,000 (100 teachers x £200). Given these “hidden costs” for getting all the staff together, you don’t want to waste this opportunity; it’s too costly. A well planned INSET day can really help bring staff together, move their professional learning on, and have a huge benefit for your students. Equally the converse is true.
The Big Picture:
INSET days and CPD sessions shouldn’t just be a random selection of events, but a series of focussed, prioritised and effective opportunities for individuals, teams and the school. Set the context for the day or session, by considering the school’s improvement plan. This should be the fundamental purpose.
What professional development will staff require to help them be even more effective in their teaching or role? Are there changes at a national or local level that you need or want to incorporate into the day? Is there any feedback from staff or student voice that may shape what happens?
Stickability – The Key Learning:
It is important to remember first and foremost, that professional development must be about helping teachers teach better, in order that students can learn and make progress. What is the key learning (for staff) that you hope to achieve in this session?
We don’t think you should move on until this is absolutely clear in your mind!
Many INSET days become a series of disjointed activities that have no real purpose or gain, and before long, staff will resent the lack of clarity in their learning.
You must consider at an early point, what you expect the teachers or staff to produce as an outcome of the day. It could be new programmes of study; schemes of work; lesson plans; new learning protocols; new lesson protocols … the list is endless.
What would be the best way for staff to capture their new learning in a way that will help them enhance the outcomes for students (and teachers)?
For this section, think about the overall structure of the day and if you have overall responsibility for CPD, think about the structure for each of the sessions. Try to think about how staff will learn best: big questions; high quality input; opportunity for collaborative or co-operative learning; and some time to think and reflect.
Outstanding professional development has a combination of:
- Camp Fire – presentations or input?
- Watering Holes – opportunity to chat and discuss the learning. Breaks and lunches are a very important part of the day as they allow staff to discuss and socially construct meaning together. When asked about the most useful part of a professional development day staff often say, ‘the break-time; this is why!
- Cave Time – this is simply the opportunity to reflect and think about the day on your own or in a quiet time of the day. Think about your train journey home after a great conference, course or development day and how your head can often be buzzing with ideas.
On some days, an element of differentiation can work well by offering different, or a choice of sessions, to meet the needs of different staff. This needs to be carefully planned into the structure.
Seeking access to high quality external speakers is not always easy and can be very expensive. If you want a particular speaker, it is likely you will need to book them months in advance, possibly even a year. In my own leadership experience of staff development, the costs can range from £300 to £2,000 for one speaker. I do know one individual who charges £5,000, but we have managed to stay well away from this by pooling ideas from inside our own institution.
There will certainly be some really capable inputs and interesting speakers that you have on your own staff or in a neighbouring school. Don’t forget the power of Twitter – it’s how most TeachMeets are put together.
It is important to make sure the speaker is aware of the input that is required; the time they will have to be available and how this fits with and complement the needs of the school.
It can be really useful to produce a simple countdown list for yourself. This will aid you to organise some things which need tp be done much sooner than others.
A month before you may want to:
- Make sure parents and students are informed of the INSET day
- Finalise stickability, outcomes & structure for the day
- Confirm with guest/internal speakers they are still available and what their brief is
- Organise catering arrangements – don’t be mean here. Tea, coffee, biscuits and a good lunch are crucial. The staff deserve it.
- Consider if staff on part-time or support contracts, should be involved and paid to attend.
- Plan the location of all events
- Think about how you will evaluate the event for example www.surveymonkey.com can provide on-line feedback very easily.
A week before:
- Publish the programme of INSET day/CPD sessions
- Inform premises staff on locations and layouts required
- Make sure the AV and heating or air-conditioning is working.
- Arrange access and logins for staff, particularly external guests.
- Confirm any AV requirements, materials or resources for the sessions. Double-check these!
- www.surveymonkey.com evaluation prepared and ready to share.
The day before:
- Check, check and check again – just touch base with speakers, premises staff and caterers to make sure everyone knows what is required.
- Ensure the AV requirements and resources are in place and have been tested.
- Organise registers if required.
- Upload any resources or links to the school VLE/servers.
On the day:
If you have managed to be highly efficient so far, the day should run smoothly and you can focus on:
- Meeting & greeting speakers
- Ensure all rooms are set, comfortable and the AV requirements are in place
- Touch base with and thank site supervisors, caterers and IT staff
- Thank all speakers during the day and explain all hospitality arrangements.
- Collect staff registers
- Send staff evaluations by email link and place a reminder on the school website.
- Draft thank you letters to guest speakers and internal speakers
- Update training credit database (if used)
- Upload or send any additional or late resources to staff, including those who are absent or part-time.
In setting up the evaluation, look to get different kinds of feedback, both quantitative and qualitative which can be really useful for thinking and planning future events. The impact of the day on student outcomes should also be seriously considered.
You may also want to gather information on:
- The quality of the various sessions – who found what most useful and why?
- The quality of the room arrangements
- The quality of the catering
- The impact of the day on staff’s future plans
Once the day is over and you have gathered the evaluations, it is important to sit down with some colleagues and consider how to maximise the impact of the day and whether any follow up work is required. You may also want to consider whether any changes are needed to the content, structure or arrangements of any future days. And most importantly, if any follow-up training is needed for staff who have requested it; absent-staff; or for those who have stipulated various queries in their feedback.
Write down when? With who? And how you intend to evaluate the INSET Day? Why not go really radical and blog it out for others to read and learn from?
A completed #5MinCPDPlan for INSET days at @LeadingLearner‘s is shown below. Download a blank template by clicking the small image:
Good luck, and do share your results and plans.