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A grateful opportunity

Nathan Walker, a teacher at the Qatar International School, recently attended an OTP facilitated by Ros Bartlett and Nikki Meredith from our Earls High DOC. He shares his experience of the programme and the impact it has had on his learning journey.

“I was recently a part of what has, so far, been the best CPD programme I’ve experienced. I was lucky enough to be selected alongside sixteen other colleagues from my school to participate in the OLEVI Outstanding Teacher Programme. I am very grateful!

The programme was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate, discuss and debate with some fantastic practitioners across the school. There was a wide range of forums and topics and it was extremely thought-provoking.

I wasn’t sure what the ambience was going to be like throughout the course, as it was the first time I had worked closely with some of my fellow colleagues. I was worried that some of them might have had previous judgements of me as a teacher; I also wondered whether some might use the opportunity to belittle others, particularly me as I am someone with less experience than others. Thankfully, my worries were erased from the minute we started working with Nikki and Ros.

It was an incredibly supportive environment; all of the staff buzzed off each other and some of the concepts and ideas discussed were fantastic. It was really refreshing to see so many fellow professionals and colleagues who are exceptionally passionate about their job, their subject and the profession.

Here are some of the stand-out things that I have taken from the programme – notions that will definitely be catalysts in the direction of my future teaching.

Celebrate Success

As teachers, we often talk about celebrating the successes of our pupils. The use of praise and positive reinforcement is frequently used as a tool to engage and motivate the children in front of us. One thing that was alluded to during a discussion was the importance of making sure we also celebrate our teaching successes.

Often in schools, particularly ours, teachers put in extra time and effort to enhance the learning and progress of the pupils – which is brilliant. However, these teachers are seldom given any praise or gratitude from other members of staff. Now, I am not saying that everyone should be calling everyone else amazing, every second of the day. But as humans, like our pupils, we thrive on positive comments and ‘kind words’. A little teacher recognition can go a long way to improve morale and happiness, and in turn teaching and learning.

I will certainly be making a point of telling teachers who are doing a great job, exactly that.

Collaboration

TEAM acronym (together everyone achieves more), teamwork motivation concept, color sticky notes, white chalk handwriting on blackboard

I never really appreciated the benefits of collaborating with colleagues across the whole school. I was fortunate enough to work alongside teachers from KS1 through to KS5 from a range of different subject areas. This format ensured that there was a wide range of knowledge, ideas and experience, as well as opinions and attitudes. Collaboration needs to happen more often. The brilliant pedagogues who were on this programme made the discussions very interesting and thought-provoking, and at points the discussions developed into productive debates. Managed and steered well by our course facilitators, we were all involved in professional dialogues that made us all think from a different perspective.

I think it’s very easy to develop a philosophy and stubbornly stick to it. It takes collaboration and professional dialogues like this to ‘deepen your thinking’ and perhaps make you take a second look at your attitudes and beliefs as a teacher. There were many times during the training when I was able to take an idea, concept or belief and see how it would fit into my mould as a teacher, all of which were positive and will certainly work towards making me a better teacher.

Get Crispy

Fried Egg isolated on white

We were introduced to a very creative and fun analogy about the importance of pushing boundaries and working outside of your comfort zone.

The yolk represents your comfort zone, the area where you feel at ease and confident. The egg white is known as the stretch, the area just outside of your comfort zone, an area which could relate to trying a new teaching tool or a new form of behaviour management perhaps. Then, finally, we come to the ‘crispy’ edge. This is the area far away from our comfort zone. An area that might ignite in us some fear of failure, it could be linked to trying something completely new with a difficult class – a risk.

During the programme we were encouraged to ‘get crispy’ – to try new concepts, to be creative, to innovate and engage pupils in learning. These risks need to be taken. It’s easy to stay in our comfort zone – we are all susceptible to stagnation. Keeping up to date with new methodology, being creative and taking risks will allow for development and also enable a large ‘impact’ on the learning. We encourage our pupils to take risks and we champion the fact that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s principles like this where we really need to practise what we preach.

DR ICE  img_3072

I really enjoyed this acronym. Our facilitators and OLEVI are passionate advocates of this descriptive model. DR ICE is used to describe what are seen as essential ingredients in the make-up of an Outstanding Teacher. It takes into consideration not only what happens in the classroom but in every aspect of the profession.

It illustrates that we should challenge and engage pupils in all aspects of their education, including the wider aims of the curriculum. We can do this by role modelling learning, challenging expectations and setting high standards. We need to deepen the thinking of each and every child by planning and using higher-order questions and by providing significant challenge. It is then crucial to reflect on the impact that all of this is having on the learning and development of our pupils, this being a description of the pupil-centred angle of DR ICE.

It’s also important to consider that as teachers we need to make reference to this model. We need to challenge ourselves and other members of staff to deepen our thinking in order to improve the impact, challenge and engagement of our lessons. We need to share, facilitate and role model outstanding practice for others to use.

DR ICE is not an add-on; all effective teachers will have all of its components as an integral part of their practice already. It just so happens that it’s an excellent acronym that can be explicitly used to promote outstanding teaching and learning.

The ‘Golden Nugget’ Stealing Magpie img_3073

I will certainly attempt to get out more around the school. There are so many ‘Golden Nuggets’ out there that need stealing, adapting and implementing – just like a good magpie. ‘Golden Nuggets’ are outstanding teaching and learning tools.

It was a great experience to go on some learning walks and observe a range of different subjects. I have certainly found many similarities and differences that I will be reflecting upon and trying to implement into my practice. Go out and observe, it’s definitely worth it.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading the post if you’ve got this far. Just a reflection from what was an incredible piece of CPD. As previously mentioned, I am very grateful to have been a part of it and I hope for more of the same in the future.

Go ‘Get Crispy’ with DR ICE and the Golden Nugget Stealing Magpie. Enjoy”