The Things Teachers Say by @TeacherToolkit

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This is a post-Canada blog which shares some of the evaluation comments from teachers who attended my face-to-face conference at McGill University in February 2015. In this blog I ask; can one-off CPD events really make an impact on classroom practice?

Background:

I shared three blogs over this international journey;

  1. The Vitruvian Teacher – a prelude to my new book and teacher-resilience.
  2. 5 Time-Saving Ideas for Teachers – a free teacher resource for my online session for teachers all over Quebec, Canada.
  3. Oh Canada – a blog about my overall experiences in Canada, and the challenges Canadian teacher face.

“The Ministry of Education and the many School Boards should be invited to listen to you.”

CPD evaluation Canada Vitruvian Teacher

Very flattering!

However, as part of the teacher-training sessions I led, teachers were asked to evaluate the impact of each CPD session on their own classroom practice. Considering this was the first time I had ever worked overseas, plus leading a conference all on my lonesome for a full day (with jet-lag), this was a challenge for me to achieve full-stop! I firmly believe one-off training days have very little impact on long-term classroom practice; including my own! I do believe that when attending any internal or external CPD, it should be a given, that there is a follow-up event several months later to revisit and re-look at the impact of the training.

Reflection:

However, you don’t need me to state the obvious, nor be a fool to pretend that any one-off CPD conference I attend, or lead, will have any long-term impact on any individual. Long term impact from any CPD – should be sustained – and teacher-led.

In my own school, we are currently moving into a period of consolidation in all our CPD events. This will give teachers time to reflect, to revisit ideas and evaluate progress so far with our mark-plan-teach model moving toward. This period of ‘slow-CPD’ will be fitting, given that the exam period is nigh …

This aside, this blog shares the views and evaluations of the teachers who attended my seminar at McGill University. My rational for sharing this, is not to belittle myself, the training or the teachers that shared their views, but to blog and encourage the reader to reflect on the purpose of one-off CPD events …

Can one-off CPD events really make an impact over time? What do you think? Click here.

Evaluation:

The evaluation form in all its entirety is below. It was produced by McGill University, Faculty of Education as part of their Distinguished Educator Seminar Series. I had no say in the content/layout of the document.

CPD evaluation Canada Vitruvian Teacher

Context:

Of course, it goes without saying (and I will write it here), that what works in my school, may not work in your school. And overseas? Well, of course content, abbreviations and pedagogy will be entirely different. Therefore, what I presented during the day, and the feedback you read here, should have a context.

What teachers do in England and Canada will be fundamentally the same things, but there will be different foci and purpose. For example, Canada does not have OfSTED. There is little accountability. Teachers have much more freedom, yet are tied to administrative regions (in Quebec), rather than local councils.

Teachers in Canada face the same challenges as we do in England. Marking, planning and full-time teaching timetables exist and are as complex as ours. Teachers are graded and assessed as much as we are in the classroom. The feedback from two colleagues I spoke to, varied significantly regarding the assessment of teachers from the year of qualification. One teacher I spoke to, said that they had never been formally observed in over twenty years!!

Feedback:

So, below are the positive and negative comments from teachers who attended my session. Despite the niceties, I have often thought about the long-term impact of one-off CPD events; including my own! I could argue, that the follow-up to my sessions, are my tweets, blogs and 24/7 support for those I met, but nothing quite matches a face-to-face session, or a direct observation in the classroom, where teachers use the time available to practice and embed new ideas.

“I enjoyed everything!”

This evaluation will not improve my practice, nor suggest what impact the training session will have on the classroom practitioner. Is the wording of the evaluation question poorly structured? ‘What was the most useful feature of this seminar?’

CPD evaluation Canada Vitruvian Teacher

Here is another evaluation;

“5 Minute Plans, evaluation etc. I am interested in researching further. Grading ideas (practical / Informative). I would like to know more about the ideas presented … Excellent workshop even though I was scared to question my work as a teacher. Genuine instructor (passionate!)”

CPD evaluation Canada Vitruvian Teacher

And one more evaluation.

“This seminar encouraged me to self-reflect. His ‘not yet’ strategy has helped re-gain confidence and keep trying to be a good teacher.”

CPD evaluation Canada Vitruvian Teacher

And some final evaluative comments:

“The interactive web tools that were presented [were useful]. The approachability of the speaker. Relevance to today’s classroom and no-nonsense approach.”

“We were given concrete ideas to use. The approach was very humanistic – the goal is NOT perfection.”

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Even Better If:

Of course, everything can be improved. Here are a few comments from teachers who attended my session. Just before you read them, consider my opening question to the reader; can one-off CPD events really make an impact on classroom practice?

What do you think? Click here.

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@TeacherToolkit

In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of being most influential in the field of education. He remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing resources and ideas online as @TeacherToolkit, he has built this website (c2008) which has been described as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the UK Blog Awards (2018). Read more...

5 thoughts on “The Things Teachers Say by @TeacherToolkit

  • Pingback:The Things Teachers Say by @TeacherToolkit | Uxbridge College Teaching and Learning

  • 18th March 2015 at 6:05 pm
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    I think it depends on the topic at hand and the actual trainer. For example, I have sat through many a CPD when you i wondered ‘what was the point in that?’, sometimes it may as well be sent out in an email. However, I have sat through a training session by the late Paul Ginnis. This inspired me to the point where I embedded his ideas as and when I could. That did have a long term affect on my teaching. Some CPD sessions are, I feel, about ticking boxes rather than actual things that you can take away and work with.

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  • 29th March 2015 at 5:45 pm
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    I think that one off CPD events can sometimes have a great impact, if they act as a catalyst for the individual or groups to pursue self development. This requires time and space for reflection and action of course. The best CPD is not something ‘done to’ colleagues, but has impact when people take ownership of it and develop the follow up themselves. A highly inspiration speaker may appear ethereal and impractical in the precious blocks of time allocated to CPD in schools ( too often a hurried affair on the first/ last day of term when everyone is not in the right mind set) but may just be the nudge that colleagues need to engage in self reflection, wider TL issues and further exploration around the theme. CPD doesn’t have to be purely mechanical ‘product’ driven does it? P.S. I hate tick boxes.

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