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Catering For Everyone Vs. Pleasing Everyone

When we returned this September it wasn’t just the prospect of returning to the classroom that gave me those familiar new-year jitters. It was also the fact that we would be forging ahead with a new CPD programme that I was instrumental in designing.

When you create a new scheme of work or trial a new idea in the classroom you know full well that there will some students who groan and resist change. For some reason we are incredibly resilient when it comes to this sort of criticism – after all, they’re students, some will always find a negative amongst a sea of positives.

However, this same resilience can sometimes escape us when we design new approaches for our colleagues to try. Perhaps it’s because adults are so much more difficult to gauge than students? A child will usually be honest, many will spare our feelings if they dislike something, but they will nevertheless let their feelings be known. Adults are more slippery customers. They often hide their true feelings behind a veil of manners and in doing so, even when we receive praise, we question its validity.

It was with trepidation then that I watched and listened as a senior colleague outlined some of the ideas behind our new CPD programme. For the most part people seemed neutral and receptive. There were a few nods and utterances of agreement. Some friends even complimented the resources provided…

Then it dawned on me.

We don’t mind it when students criticise new ideas we introduce into the classroom, not because we’re thick-skinned, it’s because we know the bigger picture. We know in our hearts that we’re doing what we’re doing for the proverbial ‘greater-good’, and as such we can endure criticism if it means a more positive experience in the long run for our pupils.

So I tried to adopt this attitude to the new CPD programme. Will some people love it? I hope so! Will some people detest the prospect of change? Definitely! But no matter what, I know that what we are doing is opening a door to a more positive and individual CPD experience that should develop a more reflective and scholarly approach to teaching and learning.

When it comes to the end of the year and we ask for feedback, I truly hope people are honest and critical – I want it to be even better next year and this relies on honest feedback.

The experience taught me an important lesson; that I care a great deal about how my colleagues perceive their CPD. It also reminded me that ‘catering for everyone’ is different to ‘trying to please everyone’ and in the pursuit of the latter you run the risk of preventing the former.

In my next post, titled ‘CPD as a Project’ I will explain in greater detail how we are delivering our professional development this year and will try to outline both the positives and the negatives of our new approach. This should be with you by the end of next week.

Mr P

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Author:

I am a teacher of English at a rural secondary school in the West of England; in my third year of teaching I became an NQT Induction coordinator and last year I was placed in charge of coordinating literacy across the school. I am now approaching my 6th year as a teacher and I feel as though I am still only just scraping the surface of what this job entails. Every year there is a new challenge to overcome and as any teacher will attest, sometimes we choose the challenges, other times they are thrust upon us. Sometimes the challenges seem worthwhile and alas sometimes they feel less so. I have made this blog to share some of the challenges that are beginning to arise as we strive to improve and to also share some of the ways in which we've done this - hopefully some may find it useful, hopefully I will too! Mr P.

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