PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT... WHAT'S NEW?
Professional development can sometimes be hit or miss. I know from some of my fellow colleagues over the years, that they have experienced training that has ranged from great, to dismal. So, as schools cope in the middle of a pandemic and practitioners are having to adapt to more technologically inclusive ‘hybrid’ classrooms, where are we with ‘Continuing Professional Development’? (Although I am sure we could make a case that the pandemic has been a continuous process of professional development).
At my current school, we recently started focusing on whole-school professional development, having previously been focused on sharing good practices throughout the year, particularly with technological platforms. Now as a school, we are embarking on a new program called ‘High Performance Learning or HPL’. Anyone taken part in this before?
So first question: What is HPL?
HPL is a framework that schools can choose to embed within their organisation, which is a whole school focus, supported by all staff. It is a package that you buy into as you are provided with support from the HPL organisation (details of how this actually works eludes me, but here is the link to their website for more information). The framework focuses on the concept that most children can achieve to the highest levels, reaching their true potential, if we (school) provide the required framework /support for them to do this.
WHY DO WE NEED PROGRAMS SUCH AS HPL?
When listening to the breakdown of HPL I felt like I was hearing Carol Dweck (Mindset) Andrea Duckworth (GRIT), Rita Pearson (TED Talk), Simon Sinek (The Golden Circle), and much more. I was not sure what was new, as well as being completely perplexed at the idea that not all teachers think, the children they teach can achieve. But then it struck me, there are actually teachers that do think like this, unfortunately. I have been teaching in the private sector for the last few years and although you have challenges, I almost forgot what it felt like to work in some of the more challenging school environments, where you are confronted with so many difficulties you can lose sight of the individual child. In no way am I making a judgment or assumption, or saying private education is easier, it is just faced with different difficulties (for me anyway), trust me I have been there and I spent the best part of almost 8 years in Inner City London school’s, but that is another post completely (my love and heartbreak of teaching Inner London).
Back to HPL: So why, which is often the case in education, do we need something that almost is a repeat of theories and concepts we already have? Then it struck me, the holistic approach of the program. Bringing it all under one roof to create and embed each one of the great concepts, as a cultural norm. A language that we all speak. Individually teachers are doing amazing work and you can walk into classrooms, jump on Instagram and see just how bright and beautiful classrooms are. However, inconsistencies exist in schools, a lack of transferring of learning and good practice also. My understanding so far, with the little I know is that HPL is bringing it all together, sharing this practice, creating an individual organisational culture, that embeds the expectation of high performance, but through the delivery of lessons, activities, and extracurricular work, that underpins the mindset of resilience for example, or provides motivation.
As schools, we need to have harmony and oneness for education institutions to achieve success. Now I am not here for the homogenous ways that some schools operate, that we must be so robotic, that personality isn't allowed! But what I mean is the oneness of concepts, ethos, beliefs, and approaches. That we should all be underpinned with the same core values within any organisation, as to ensure a consistent interaction with the target audience, our students. We need children to experience the consistent message that we expect high standards from them, no matter what classroom or subject they walk into! Failure is not an option!
So what do I mean by that strong statement... Failure to believe in oneself. Failure to push oneself, failure to try and try again! This is the type of failure that is not an option. Not every student might achieve an A* or a 9 at that given stage, but does that mean they never will? No. We all have the capacity to learn and we all learn at different stages and in different ways. Now that may not always align with curriculum expectations, I know, and the pressures we have to get our students through our courses, sometimes is overwhelming. But when a student is not achieving, it does not mean they never will! We have to embed the skills, the confidence, and the opportunities, so they can pick up the mantle at any point and know that they have the capabilities to excel. The idea that we are to build not only academic success but the skills for learning and achieving, (that is my purpose for teaching anyways) is how I have interpreted HPL (I could be wrong).
Therefore, sometimes we do need to have reminders and organisations do need to embed new cultures or reinforce ones, even if it feels like we have heard a theory or concept before. We need to bring unity and alignment and maybe that is what HPL helps to support. Believe me, I have met those practitioners that have lost their way, are a little pessimistic and outright negative (to be fair it may be time for new inspiration or a change of career) and we forget that we can all get stagnated doing the same thing day-in and day-out. So maybe HPL is just a repacking of old concepts, maybe it is something new or maybe it is, just what we need, given the last year of teaching online!
Love Carole xx
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