I've always been an advocate of continuing to develop myself, both in terms of my subject knowledge and also my pedagogy. This has meant that I make a point of using Twitter, TeachMeets and other forms of collaboration in order to keep myself learning. I feel that the Chartered College is already proving to be a body that can push this even further- and here are my reasons why.
I have definitely met colleagues who don't see the value in collaborating across the profession. It scares me that they see teaching strategies and resources as something to be jealously guarded, for fear that someone will become better than them.
The celebratory atmospheres at the TeachMeets I've attended, together with the (mostly) positive sharing between colleagues on Twitter is combatting this- but what about those who can't attend events because of other commitments? What about the vast number of teachers not using social media for CPD? Some would argue that it's the responsibility of the school to provide for their staff- but I know that there are schools out there who see themselves as being within a bubble, where staff are scared to admit that they are sharing ideas and networking outside of the school. Where there is a fear that schools will see this collaboration is a threat.
The College has a chance to overcome this fear. It is my hope that it will live up to expectations by showing this collaboration for what it is: a professional commitment to learn from others and, therefore, give the students we teach a better deal.
John Tomsett's slot on Saturday definitely struck a chord with me. What he said was reflected in a discussion I'd been part of at The College's regional event in York a few days earlier- and also in the wide range of comments that teachers share on twitter regularly. There are schools who grab a strategy because a member of SLT saw it as a quick fix. There are schools who change their marking policies more often than Lady Gaga changes her outfit- in the fear that something that isn't fashionable isn't effective. Schools need to base their policies in what really works and teachers need to be able to research and evaluate without the fear of criticism if something new doesn't work.
With The College's proposal for an accessible hub of research, individual teachers will be able to easily evaluate research themselves as well as being given practical examples of how the strategies work- making it quicker for them to evaluate what would work in their classroom. Moreover, teachers will be able to contribute their own research. Many already do this through blogs and social media- though we deserve something that gives us a means to see what has value, a professional forum that is nationally recognised.
Lastly, I want to recognise the voice that this organisation offers us. Though there has been criticism for The College representing a minority of those with nothing but hopeful intentions, I cannot help but think of the quotation, "Hope is the only thing stronger than fear." You might think this statement from 'The Hunger Games' a little sentimental and sappy, but I cannot help but see an element of truth in it.
We are a profession overcome by fear. The fear of bad exam results. The fear of an inspection judgement. The fear that we are not good enough. The hopes that Dame Alison Peacock is presenting us with are a start to overcoming these fears- and working together to speak (or even sing) with a collective voice lends us the professional strength and integrity that we deserve.