Ultimately, nothing makes more of a difference than the quality of teaching in classrooms. If we support our teachers to grow and develop effectively then we’re focusing on the most important aspect of any school.
I’ve worked with top researchers and top schools and I’ve also been to many schools where they’re getting into difficulty. From the CPD quality audits that we carry out for members of our network I want to share my top 10 dos and don’ts for effective teacher development.
- DO give teachers time for well-planned and properly structured collaboration, every week, around improving the learning of pupils.
- DO build in times within subject meetings to analyse how pupils are learning, using data, exercise books, work samples and teacher observations. Use best-practice guidance and evidence-informed tools and expertise to plan and improve lessons to try and close the gap between current pupil performance and your ultimate aspirations.
- DON’T focus only on generic teaching advice – e.g. how to give good feedback or ask good questions – unless you give additional time for teachers to apply ideas in different subjects and topics.
- DON’T use graded lesson observations for appraisal and performance management. Research suggests these are extremely unreliable and encourage teachers to learn how to ‘put on a performance’ rather than genuinely improve practice.
- DO create a ‘learning culture’ where every staff member talks about what they are learning and improving, how it applies to improving valued outcomes for pupils, and where everyone feels genuinely free to take risks and ask for support.
- DON’T overburden teachers with excessive expectations around written comments in marking, too much data entry or excessive paperwork for lesson planning. Make sure teachers don’t feel so pressured they can’t get on with their own development.
- DON’T use coaching only for teachers who are deemed ‘in need of help’. Make specialist coaching a positive that everyone draws on to improve, no matter whether focusing on growing positives or diminishing negatives.
- DO get the most from external training by building in school-based preparation and follow-up, by keeping participants focused on creating and evaluating impact on pupils, and by picking training which has the opportunity for extended input over multiple occasions.
- DON’T let every teacher choose from endless one-off activities, nor make every teacher always do the same training. Create a balance of whole-school initiatives, subject or specialist development for teams and individual training (including career development). Differentiate activities and expert input to keep development relevant to teachers’ current priorities.
- DO engage with high quality support to improve the leadership of professional development. Audit your strengths and weaknesses, get your school leaders networking with others to engage with leading ideas, get expert input to develop your systems and policies.
You can download the latest research on what makes exceptional teacher development for free on the Teacher Development Trust website. You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter of the latest leading ideas and practice in school professional development.