Making 2011 the Year of Positive Action

As the New Term kicks off I began thinking about how I am going to use all the new ideas Twitter keeps throwing at me! What resolution was I going to make in order to improve my teaching or help improve the teaching and learning environment for myself, fellow staff and students?

But you are the teacher, you have to go back to school!

And like school kids, the staff traipsed into their inset day workshops. Most were more concerned about the presents and the New Year’s Eve celebrations or who they were going to sit next to rather than starting the workshop. Slowly but surely they settled and so began the first workshop of the inset day…

‘Recording Behaviour Management on Sims’ – not the most inspirational of titles to welcome in the new year of teaching. However, the aim of the session was to ease the teacher workload. Surely this was to be the light in the dark dreary January morning. Surely no one could complain about this… The senior management were working for us to try and ease an imperfect system…

The complainer’s soliloquy

Alas no. Within 5 minutes complainants were flying in thick and fast with a very repetitive routine:

Teacher (T): “The report should show which teacher set the sanction”

Workshop leader (WL): “No it won’t – that is something the software just won’t let us do”

T: “Well that’s ridiculous. You mean I have to do this myself”

WL: “Yes but that’s why we have created this system to help you get around this problem”

T: “You mean I have to have another system”

WL: “Yes but we control this system and can make it do far more than the key database”

T: “But I need to look at 2 things. That’s just impractical. It’s going to take me more time. The report should show which teacher set the sanction”


And so it continued…

The complainers seemed to have the same thing in common – the desire to complain with no real desire of listening to possible solutions.

(By the way, my favourite comment from the whole soliloquy was ‘But that might mean we aren’t giving out enough sanctions!’)

‘What would they have said on twitter if I had been so negative?’

As I sat listening to the dialogue/monologue/soliloquy I began to wonder/doodle and my mind rested upon the idea of ‘What would they have said on twitter if I had been so negative?’

It struck me that one of the really positive things about Twitter is the inspiration for positive action. You only have to listen to tweets and you hear nothing but positive comments, support and praise for ideas and suggestions. If you don’t believe me, follow these people:

@CreativeEdu @DeputyMitchell @digitalmaverick @TheHeadsOffice @DigitalGodess @chrisleach78 @lisamonthie @MultiMartin @ShellTerrell to name but a few…

Their positive approach to education is infectious, you realise that the only thing that holds you back half the time is attitude.

Get involved!

I am more than happy to give my thoughts and be positive on twitter when I read someone’s ideas. Why should it be any different in the middle of a room full of teachers? So I praised the solutions being presented. Nothing major – I didn’t declare my undying love for the excel spreadsheet being proposed. I didn’t declare that the formulas could rival Stephen Hawking’s explanation for the universe. Simply that I thought it was a really good idea and looked forward to trying it. That simple. I looked forward to trying that.

140 Characters of Goodness

Did it stop the complainer talking? No.

Did someone stop me later that day in the corridor to say it was good to hear something positive said in that meeting? Yes

Twitter only gives 140 characters space and if you read many of the tweets involving education they are positive. If 140 Characters can spread such an infectious amount of enthusiasm (don’t believe me? Read here!) surely we can spread enthusiasm by taking this approach into schools. It is all very well being Mr. Positive online and then keeping quiet in meetings or not speaking out against some overly negative feedback. Twitter, if it is to serve as a CPD tool, has to impact on teaching, learning and my professional development. It has to change and improve who I am as a teacher. And so it has.

Preaching to the converted?

If you are on twitter I may be preaching to the converted. I think I am preaching to myself more than anything. The glow of the online staff room full of positive people can become lost in the day to day aspect of teaching, especially when you encounter other teachers, face to face, which aren’t so positive. But being positive and doing something to search for a solution (or at least try a solution) is something which will have an impact – however small or large!

New Year’s teaching resolution

So there it is – the New Year’s teaching resolution:

  1. Being actively positive in and around school, even in the face of complainers.
  2. Taking the time to say something positive to staff – we do it to students all day, why not staff as well?
  3. Being active/pro-active when faced with a problem. Complaining won’t solve anything! Time to get out there and ask people what their solutions might be.
  4. Introduce more people to twitter! The more people in the staff room the better.

New Year’s personal resolution?

And because I know you are desperate to know my personal New Year’s resolution…

  1. Read a book for pleasure for at least half an hour every day

And that is what I am going to do now…


Transforming CPD into iCPD

Anyone else travelled half the country for a CPD course? Anyone else ever sat through a CPD course/seminar/workshop doodling or sat there thinking about something else rather than the actual CPD? Have you sat there wondered how this CPD relates to you or thinking ‘I’m not sure this is relevant to where I am in my teaching’? I certainly have! Having been exposed to so many ideas on Twitter and through educational blogs, I am starting to question whether I should ever have to sit through that situation again!

I have seen so many ideas over the month I have been on Twitter which are relevant to me. I am conscious I am going to have to carefully pick and choose the ideas I implement in order to effectively improve my teaching! This torrent of information has made me question what I need to do in order to improve – in essence, prioritise my own CPD.

The key thing is how I got those ideas – all of the ideas were sent to my Twitter account. Within a morning it is possible to have 50 good ideas, resources to look at and dialogues started with other teaching professionals. This has not involved me leaving my classroom, it has not involved me sitting through a day of irrelevant talks just to hear the 1 relevant speaker, I am not speaking to people who I never hear from again.

This CPD is focused on me and how I want to develop and the ideas I want to explore. A development which is taking place in dialogue with others. Whilst I am sat in my classroom on my own, I am in a global staff room sharing ideas! The range of resources as well is staggering – a CPD morning could be spent reading blogs, sharing ideas in a twitter/email chat, could be spent listening to online lectures, listening to podcasts, using twitter to talk to classes of students about how they learn. Suddenly I am choosing what I want to do and how.

Considering the immanent cuts schools are facing, it is highly unlikely schools will be funding external CPD courses when then there is the opportunity of cheaper in house training. With issues such as rarely cover, why would schools pay extra to have staff sit through some expensive training days, all of which isn’t relevant? Technology here offers a way for schools to not only deal with budget cuts but to improve the CPD offered to staff! SMT can offer their staff the opportunity to develop their own teaching practice and therefore the whole school.

CPD needs to reflect the requirements of the individual. It also has to help the individual in the modern teaching environment and help them to be able to engage the students. Students are progressively using technology to help develop their own learning and progress in their studies. The increased use of ipads, iphones and ipods as means of accessing information need not and should not be the realm of just the students. Teachers should be able to help students and other teachers develop using such technological advantages.

Welcome to the age of iCPD.

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