4 Keeping a record of development activities
As a school leader it is important to keep records of the development activities of your staff. This is evidence of your commitment to improving learning for students through supporting and enhancing the performance of staff. By using recording sheets like those suggested in the resources section, as well as records of attendance on training days, you will not only keep track of each teacher’s progression, but also of actions you have taken in relation to school improvement.
It is also the responsibility of each teacher to keep their own records of their development. This has often been just a list of courses attended with dates, but it does not necessarily include records of in-school PLD activities that they have engaged in. Keeping a Learning Diary or portfolio is one way of doing this. Doing so means not only that a teacher can track their own progress, but they can draw on their records to evidence their improving practice and demonstrate their commitment to professional development.
Read the case study below about how one teacher keeps records of his professional development and how he not only uses these records as part of his reflective process, but also as a way of remembering and reviewing. He makes notes of his ideas most days and can draw on his records when he needs to present evidence of his PLD to others.
Case Study 2: Mr Kapur keeps a record of his school-based PLD
Mr Kapur loves teaching. His father and his aunt were teachers and he felt it was in his blood to teach. After qualifying he began teaching in a medium-sized school in a poor urban area. Two years in, he felt that he needed some new ideas, but although his students seemed to be enthusiastic and motivated in his lessons, he felt he had put into practice everything that he had learned on his teaching course.
Mr Kapur talked to his school leader, who suggested three PLD activities that he could undertake at the school. First, to observe and learn from the science lessons of Mr Farooqi, who was widely recognised as an excellent teacher; second, to follow up on his idea to link mathematics and sports lessons as a way of inspiring the boys to engage in mathematics; and, third, to pass on his knowledge and skills by mentoring a new teacher who would be joining in the next term. Mr Kapur agreed that these were all useful. A brief plan was agreed, which was placed on Mr Kapur’s file, as well as in his notebook.
When Mr Kapur went to Mr Farooqi’s lesson, he made notes of his observations and of the discussion he had afterwards with Mr Farooqi about how he had planned and delivered the lesson. In his notes, Mr Kapur added some suggestions about how he could apply some of what he had learned to his own lessons; two weeks later he repeated one of the activities he had seen in a science lesson, and made notes about how it went. He was careful to date each entry but did not bother if the notes were tidy or legible to others – if he needed to write this up at any time, he would work from his notes.
Mr Kapur was pleased that the school leader had liked his idea about linking mathematics and sport, so he spent several evenings reading the curriculum and mathematics textbook. He also looked online for any research or practice in the area, and talked to a couple of colleagues at work about his ideas – whose suggestions were very helpful. Mr Kapur wrote some notes on his developing ideas. He tried out a few activities with his class and asked for some feedback from his students, which he kept for future reference. Eventually he wrote a paper for the staff group to explain how this approach may work, and received positive feedback, which he recorded and kept. Several months on, there are now two other teachers using Mr Kapur’s approach.
Before Mr Kapur started mentoring the new teacher, he consulted books and the internet for best practice in mentoring, as he wanted to mentor correctly. He discovered the online TESS-India unit Transforming teaching-learning process: mentoring and coaching: he found it useful to be able to learn without travelling to attend a course in person. As he mentored he kept his own notes about what he did and what he could have done better. He found it helpful to reflect on his mentoring, which meant that he was better able to talk about the experience with the school leader when he asked.
The records that Mr Kapur kept were for his eyes only and largely informal – he started them in his first year as a teacher and continued this practice. He found it helpful to look back to see how he had developed, but also to remind himself of what else he could do to be a better teacher. When he applied for another job and needed to refresh his CV and prepare for the interview, his notes were invaluable.
Activity 5: Organising your own records
If you have studied the TESS-India unit Managing and developing self: managing and developing yourself, you will have started to think about how your own PLD runs in parallel with that of your teachers. Now think about how you keep records of your own PLD as a school leader. Are you as organised as Mr Kapur? Using the case study, write down a list of the types of records he kept (e.g. a plan, some ideas, a list) and then a list of what he used them for. This may help you think about the kind of notes you may keep of your own PLD.
If you are keeping a Learning Diary, you are getting into this practice whilst studying this unit. A good school leader models the practice that they wish to see in their staff. If you do not already have a notebook or file to record your development, you should create one.
Take a few minutes now to consider the realities of your busy and demanding working day and make notes in response to the following questions:
- What could conspire against you from keeping your own PLD records?
- What will you do to stop things getting in the way?
- How you are going to record your own PLD activities and reflections (daily, weekly, the format)?
You should also set yourself a review date (maybe one or two months away) to check on your records.
Having the discipline to keep PLD records will remind you of your progress and provide you with a way to reflect about your challenges and opportunities. The records will also give you a source of data to demonstrate your PLD and to share your expertise. You will need to lead by example if you are going to require your teachers and students to become active; they themselves are continual learners. Data on the PLD of staff at the school provides evidence of the school’s commitment to continuous improvement and the raising of standards.