Which room in the school has free CPD on tap?
Be honest, how does your school view the ‘staffroom’? Is it a place for gossip and rumour where dissent can thrive? Or is it a rich source of informal professional development, somewhere to unwind and a communication centre?
Staffrooms are working environments and hopefully relaxing environments too but I have noticed a recent trend for the staffroom to be abandoned or marginalised in schools, perhaps because of the pace of the day teachers are experiencing.
6 Staffroom CPD Steals
My advice is not to waste this valuable resource and this is how to ensure you maximise what is essentially free CPD. We know we learn from each other and we know we can learn from our mistakes if we are objective and willing to listen.
So why is the staffroom so important to CPD?
1. Staff gather around a notice and discuss things
Forgo communication ‘always by e-mail’ and put up notices. Face-to-face communication is far better for building relationships.
2. Staff open up when they are relaxed
Use the staffroom as a venue for informal events. It can be anything from a quiz to a celebration.
3. Staff learn and teach much better when relaxed and refreshed
Make it a place to go at the end of a teaching day.
There are significant benefits from winding down before winding your way home. People ‘share’ at the end of a day so use the opportunity to unload and importantly reflect before going home and taking with them the stresses of the day.
4. Staff help each other to solve problems
Don’t just expect or let it happen. Work creatively to make the staffroom vibrant and challenging, a place to go to get ideas and solve problems. Post problems on a noticeboard for people to solve or comment on, “How can we solve this.. ?”
5. Staff help to inspire each other
Place resources where they will be found. Keep it tidy and change the ‘wallpaper’. By the way, if you cannot read what is on the walls from the centre of the staffroom then it’s too small (the same goes for classrooms).
6. Staff help each other to be creative and collaborate
Work to bring an element of fun to the staffroom. I once turned a corner of the staffroom into a beach scene; another idea was a monthly celebration (with cakes) based on a significant event.
To make it challenging, make entry requisite on a token of some form that has to be found. This little ‘game’ allows people to flex their creativity and to come together in a way that is not part of the usual ‘business’ of the day.
The Staffroom is a Classroom
I was once told by a wise bursar that you can tell a lot about a school by the staff toilets. I think the same is true of the staffroom.
What impression would you take away if you were visiting your school?
Staffroom dynamics have always been an interesting reflection of the attitudes and values of a school.
In some schools, the staffroom is seen as a sanctuary away from the leadership of the school, a place that goes eerily quiet when they enter!
Elsewhere the staffroom is seen as a collegiate melting pot where position and rank give way to inclusive teamwork.
I would not expect an abandoned staffroom to burst into life straight away. This will take time to introduce and adopt changes in behaviour and attitudes.
A ‘working’ staffroom is one that breaks down subject boundaries, shares concerns and ideas, solves problems, and can offer a challenge to individuals and groups within the school. Senior leaders who can make the most of the staffroom can reap significant professional development benefits at little cost.