Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and in particular INSET Days can vary from the brilliant to the awful and often somewhere in between. The problem often lies in them: being standalone one off events; lacking a clarity in terms of the outcomes for either teachers or pupils and them being on totally the wrong thing, something for which there is limited or counter-evidence on the theme/focus having a positive impact on pupils’ learning.
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” of 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 #5MinCPDPlan has been developed by @LeadingLearner & @TeacherToolkit to help schools maximise the impact of their CPD.
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 the school, teams and individuals. The days need to be part of a coherent overall professional development programme , on a particular issue, that is cumulative and varied over time; that is the learning will be theoretical, practised and reflected on to allow further improvement. Set the context for the day or session by considering the overall CPD programme. What professional development and learning will staff require to help them be even more effective in their teaching or role? What research or advancements in cognitive science, for example, are you seeking to share and implement? Is there any feedback from staff or student voice that may shape what happens?
Stick-ability – 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 staff learning that you hope to achieve today or in this session? We don’t think you should move on until this is absolutely clear in your mind! Many an INSET day becomes a series of disjointed activities that have no real purpose and before long staff will resent the lack of clarity in the learning.
You need to 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 learning, 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?
Think about the overall structure of the professional development programme and then think about planning the day. Consider how staff will learn best; practice what you are about to preach – big questions, high quality input, opportunity for collaborative or co-operative learning and some time to think, reflect and consolidate learning. Some of the best professional development days have 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 breaks, 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 be buzzing with ideas.
Consider how the day will be followed up; staff will need time to put ideas into practice, gain feedback and then reflect again if the professional development is to impact positively on pupils.
Getting 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 and possibly even a year. There might 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 and many conferences are now 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 complements the needs of the school.
It can be really useful to produce a simple countdown list for yourself as some things need to be done much sooner than others.
A month before you may want to:
- Make sure staff are informed of the contents of the INSET day and any pre-reading/prior work required
- Finalise stick-ability, 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
- Plan location of events
- Think about how you will evaluate the day/overall programme, for example www.surveymonkey.com can provide on-line feedback very easily about some aspects of the day. More importantly how will you know whether the day (as part of the holistic programme) has had a positive impact on teachers’ teaching and pupils’ learning?
A week before:
- Publish programme of INSET day/CPD session
- Inform premises staff on locations and layouts required
- Arrange access and logins for staff particularly externals
- Confirm any AV requirements, materials or resources for the sessions
- Evaluation programme in place
The day before:
- Check, check and check again – just touch base with speakers, site staff and caterers to make sure everyone knows what is required
- Ensure the AV requirements and resources are in place
- 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
- Check rooms are set, AV requirements are in place
- Touch base with and thank site supervisors, caterers and IT staff
- Thank all speakers during the day
- Collect staff registers
- Send Staff Evaluation email link by email & on school website
- Draft thank you letters to guest speakers & internal speakers
- Update training credit database (if used)
- Upload or send any additional or late resources to staff
In setting up the evaluation look to get different kinds of feedback as both quantitative and qualitative can be really useful in thinking about the planning of future events or the impact of the day on student outcomes.
- You may want to gather information on:
- The quality of the various sessions – who found what most useful and why? Room arrangements? Quality of the catering?
- The impact of the day on staff’s future plans
- The impact of the day/programme on teaching 3/6 months down the line and ultimately on pupils’ learning.
Once the day is done and you have the evaluations it is important to sit down with some colleagues and consider how to maximise the impact of the day and what 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/sessions linked to the overall programme.
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 St. Mary’s is below:
The #5MinCPDPlan can be downloaded here: