Value vs Time: a Precursor

After outlining my initial ideas for CPD  and subsequently blogging about the thought process behind my concept over Christmas, I wanted to explore this idea in more detail, but also to additionally provide a practical insight as to how I try to implement a VVT approach within my own practice. I did previously touch upon this as I neared the end of my NQT year and am so keen to provide other teachers with the mindset to not only admit that perhaps we do not work at our most effectively sometimes. As a result, because of the nature of the job and the extent of the accountability on our parts (even if this is our own self-expectation alone) this often means that inefficiency results in work leaking into our strive to maintain a work-life balance. We all know that the definition of this balance as teachers can never completely be Mon-Fri 9-5 without an ounce of additionally obligation, but is that reasonable? Should we accept that?

I am in my second year of teaching, having completed my NQT last year and then starting at a new school in September of last year. My NQT year left me a little frazzled and I wanted to work out a way to maintain an approach that had resilience and longevity but did not compromise my enthusiasm. I manage a household, write on a freelance basis in addition to my full-time teaching post. I do not view my role at work as ‘just’ teaching; I have worked hard to write and pilot a variety of resources and practices that will eventually be in a position to work on a whole-school scale. I bore easily! The challenge of teaching means that my job and additional paid projects accommodates for that. I work 8-5/6, Monday to Friday. I do not work in the holidays with the exception of an afternoon the day before to ensure that I know what I am doing the following day. I refuse to take books home.

This isn’t a deliberate, ostentatiously compiled series of statements; it is simply an introduction to the fact that I share the pressures, deadlines and priorities of any teacher, no more and no less. Each role contains its own set of obligations and demands, but with teaching and learning in mind, I wanted to share how I achieve this with other teachers so that instead of shrugging my shoulders when colleagues say, ‘HOW do you do it?’ I am actually providing practical ways that I use that other teachers could apply to their own practice.

As mentioned within my #Nuture1415 post, my mindset for effective planning and delivery within lessons, prioritisation of administration and any additional projects is met with a Value vs Time consideration. Disregard the external demand; what will be of greatest benefit to YOU for the longest period of time? Which skills need to be taught for that particular unit that are a priority for THAT class? What long-term routines can you establish in a straightforward way that can then prove to be priceless in the long run?

After mapping out the different ways that I try to achieve this, I came to the conclusion that it would be beneficial to share @TMLeics. Whilst most educators tend to come to a Teachmeet with a view to improving and developing their own teaching practice with reference to undiscovered resources or alternative methods of delivery, this could combine several aspects of my teaching that within any other format, would have simply been a presentation of ‘stuff I do.’

I don’t want to go into detail (massive spoiler alert for March!) but wanted a bit of a reminder to myself of the ethos behind my meaning; that whilst teaching IS about improving the education of children, we are also working in a very demanding and rapidly adapting climate that requires us to evolve quickly and proactively rather than reactively to the changes currently threatening to drown us within a system to an extent at times. Sometimes being the best teacher you can be is ensuring that you have put yourself at the centre of your priorities rather than the children in the classroom.

Elements of VVT that I will cover @TMLeics on the 17th March (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/leicester-teachmeet-2015-in-partnership-with-toshiba-additionally-sponsored-by-e-teach-twinkl-tickets-13125997211):

Streamlined marking and feedback

Independent learning

Classroom routines that will work for a long-term, established classroom climate

A box of tricks- literally!

Further challenge and duplicated practice

The point? More time for planning, teaching and the privilege of a teacher in front of students that had more than 6 hours sleep the previous night. That’s the dream, right?

CPD- What’s In It For Me?

Now, whilst this is going to ruffle a bit, I shall continue.

Working in a climate where time is beyond precious within the educational sector, CPD receives rather the mixed crowd. When I mention this in discussion, it is met with surprise and disdain; teachers aren’t keen to set aside time for improvement? Disgusting.

But this is a different time. It is not so much that teachers are reluctant to reflect, develop and improve their practice; they are being somewhat backed into a corner I believe. There are only so many units of time in a day, a week, a term. To prioritise and move forward is fantastic, but the constraints of planning, marking and additional responsibilities alongside the paper chain that chases us relentless does not allow for development. It is not a case of reluctance, it is that the demands of teaching do not accommodate for such a luxury as self-improvement. We are working within a profession that relies on a certain level of martyrdom, and something has to give? I personally will spend a great deal of my personal time on my own development, but I do empathise with those less keen to commit to a degree.

Whether we agree with the method of measurement, there has been a 9% increase (according to Ofsted) to schools awarded Good or Outstanding in the last twelve months (this obviously skirts around the 25% still less than such). At what detriment? Teaching turnover is difficult to source for an exact figure, with statistics quoted on a more broad level- according to the Independent, a third of current teachers would consider an alternative career. I’m not sure that that opening line of discussion is isolated to just education, we just get a greater amount of press time. However, it is undeniable that teachers are leaving, and I am keen to see (as I am sure you are) the publication of Nicky Morgan’s Workload Challenge in the forthcoming weeks. I digress.

When compiling my intended Teaching and Learning Programme, I wanted to tailor it not only to the different aspects of teaching, but also to the teachers themselves. In order to do this, I had to consider not what do I want from CPD, but what will the people that I work with want? Whilst I recognise and embrace the opportunity to improve and inform my teaching practice, is that what we all hope to gain? Is my motivation the only motivation? It would be naive to think so.

I asked teachers how they felt about T&L; if they felt that it was time well spent outside of the classroom and what they hoped to gain as a result. I was met with various responses- I won’t include the expletives. Teaching is- and I am sure, always had been- to an extent, a divide of two cases. Those who are resilient, and those who are but are tired of being such. The constant and chaotic shifts within the profession have left several teachers with the attitude that it must be of direct and explicit benefit to them in order for them to part with the time to carry it out. It really is a case of value vs time (see my #Nuture1415 post). But then, isn’t it always? Should that not be the approach anyway, rather than the concept that we HAVE to undergo continuous development without recognising the true value?! Madness.

So, with this in mind, I have outlined the skeleton programme with exactly that title- Value vs Time. Rather than ‘how will these benefit the children?’ my CPD aims to meet the question of, ‘how will this benefit ME? The teacher?’ which is where your uncertainty may start to appear. I aim to show teachers that do not currently hold the value of CPD in the same way that they may have done before their workload became so unrealistically unbalanced that there are time-efficient ways of embedding and integrating professional development into your everyday teaching. That in the same way that the profession has altered and evolved to the same pace as the 21st century world that we now exist within, our teaching must follow suit if we are to survive. I am a strong advocate, as anyone who follows me knows, of the importance of teacher well being. If we are to stand any chance of keeping well-trained, well educated staff within a vocation that we hold so dear, then we have to put ourselves at the centre of progression and development. How will this time that you want me to dedicate make me a better person and as a result, a better teacher?

I’m patenting Value vs Time. See you in a while once I’ve convinced everyone that we are just as important as the children of our future (because Whitney Houston have you all off course for a little bit).