Home > Commentary, Education Policy, Pedagogy, Teaching > Time, Collaboration and CPD

Time, Collaboration and CPD

Collaboration, it’s been on my mind a lot recently. Partly because it’s the focus of my current masters assignment, and partly because it keeps coming up in conversation with various people. It’s a complex word, with many degrees of meaning attached, and something we all do, but possibly not enough.

I’ve read a lot of literature for my assignment, and there are some key themes that keep cropping up.

Talking pedagogy

Many of the articles I read, not least West (1998), expressed views on the importance of getting teachers talking about pedagogy. Discussing approaches to lessons, discussing questioning styles and discussing resources. Alexander (2008) even went as far as saying that it was, in his view, the most important thing we can do to improve teaching.

I often engage in these discussions with colleagues, both within school, those in other schools and now with the explosion of teacher social networking teachers from across the world. I feel this has been a great part of my improvement as a classroom teacher, and hope to continue.


The Sutton Trust Report (Coe et all 2014) spoke about lesson study in Japan and the impact it had on driving improvements in Teaching and learning, picking out the collaborative aspects of it, and the time built on for shared reflection, as being a major part of it. This ties into the ideas from West and Alexander I mentioned earlier.

This seems particular relevant to me at the moment as I keep seeing letters from MPs in response to the recent NUT lobbying programme about workload. The stock response seems to be that Nicky Morgan and her department are working to reduce bureaucracy and free up time for “what really matters in the classroom: teaching and learning.” on the face of it this seems a good thing, but I worry that it might be missing the point. Teachers in the most high performing countries (according to PISA) have considerable less time teaching and learning, and significantly more time for planning, marking and professional development. And I feel this is they key. Often in the UK teachers are supported through their NQT year and then that’s it, no CPD to speak of except the odd death by PowerPoint, unless they go on a weekend of course! Workload can be high and they can then shy away from the sort if collaboration and pedagogical discussion that may actually improve their teaching and save them time in the long run. I recently re-read this from John Tomsett who mentioned this nice quote from Dylan Wiliam:

“Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.”

We all do strive to improve, but sometimes it is hard to find the time. I recently spoke to a teacher who expressed irritation that he’d not been able to observe others to help improve his practice for a long time, and another who hasn’t been offered the opportunity to go on any subject specific CPD for a long time.

Worldwide collaboration

There was a recent issue of Forum entitled “Teachers reclaiming teaching”. This issue had many articles written by bloggers, some I was familiar with and some I wasn’t. The main focus of the issue was the benefits of this new world staffroom that we all have access to. I personally find it fascinating and helpful, but I know a lot of teachers have neither the time, nor inclination, to really get involved with that. I think it’s a shame, but it wouldn’t matter too much if we were all having these discussions anyway, as it would only take one person to bring in an idea. The ideas you gain from elsewhere may not work in your context, but thru may. Being able to have discussions about pedagogy with your colleagues is means you can share opinions on things from outside and whether they can work in your context. If you’ve tried and it doesn’t, then you can discuss why.

As Bob Hoskins used to say, “It’s good to talk.” but in the words of Paul Heaton we “need a little time.”


Forum (2014) Volume 56 number 2 Teachers Reclaiming Teaching

Alexander. R. (2008) Education for All, The quality imperative and the problem of pedagogy IOE London

Coe, R. Aliosi, C. Higgins, S. And Major L. (2014) What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research. Sutton Trust.

West, M. (1998) Quality in schools: developing a model for school improvement. International handbook of educational change. Kluwer: Dordrecht

  1. January 10, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  1. January 11, 2015 at 2:18 am
  2. December 31, 2015 at 12:06 pm
  3. March 26, 2016 at 9:26 am

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