Dame Alison Peacock, the CEO of the CCT, opened the day by welcoming us all and celebrated the fact that we were the foundling members of the Chartered College who had come together to build upon the collective voice of our professional body of teachers inspired by research.
The first keynote speaker was the Rt. Hon Justine Greening, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Education. Ms Greening laid out her plans for education under her tenure and admitted that she was “really struck” when she became education secretary at “how little capacity” there was in the education system to share good practice. This saddened me slightly as this has not been my experience at all. However, I then chatted with a mathematics teacher who had recently left her school as she was ‘starved of any form of professional development’ in the past 3 years. This is seemingly not uncommon in some schools.
I have been most fortunate in my career as a teacher that I was never ‘starved’ from developing myself professionally but I was quite the opposite - I ‘craved’ further learning and challenge – and thankfully I am now leading a wonderful group of professionals with a kindred spirit!
Every week as part of our staff meetings we share good practice and ideas, and our continuous professional development training plan is exciting as we all strive to enrich and improve the experiences of your children by continuing to challenge and develop our own learning. Teachers put a huge amount of time into preparing lessons, making them exciting, inspiring and innovative for pupils. They also spend a lot of time developing themselves professionally through their own reading on educational research, networking with other professionals and on social media platforms such as Twitter, attending conferences, TeachMeets, dropping in to other teachers’ lessons and discussing learning in the staffroom. Teachers are constantly looking to enhance their practice and enrich opportunities for pupils – in a nutshell, teaching is a vocation and teachers are interested in teaching and learning!
Throughout the day at the Chartered College of Teaching conference we heard from many highly acclaimed professionals in their fields: John Tomsett, Professor Rob Coe, Ann Mroz, Professor Tanya Byron and Doctor Tim O’Brien to name but a few, all professionals from whom I have gained insight in their writings and research over the years.
The one speaker who I had never heard of before was Penny Mallory (the first woman in the world to compete in a World Rally Car)…my first thoughts were…. and her relevance to education is??! Penny challenged all our thinking as her life story unfolded. A difficult period of her life saw her dropping out of school, homeless, and in a self-destructive cycle of alcohol and bad choices. She was aware that her life could end badly and she forced herself to turn things around… you may wish to look at her website to understand her success.
She discussed the concept of world-class thinking and world-class behavior, and the fact that if you stop innovating then you go backwards. She spoke of the concept of practice (how often do they practise changing the tyre at a pit stop?) Penny asked us to contemplate where we place ourselves on a risk profile. Most of us stay comfortably in the middle, often afraid to step beyond the comfort zone…but in her professional world all top class performers live way beyond the end of the risk profile, constantly going beyond their comfort zone. Her example was when she momentarily lost her vision in a car as her eyeballs were vibrating so much in the sockets due to the speed!! But it is so true … to be world class it is our choice! A great message not only for everyone in the room but also for us all to take back to our schools. We may not be encouraging our children to put themselves at such risks but it is all about our attitude and desire to be the best we can and what it takes to get there.
Penny closed her presentation with a quote from a famous American philosopher, William James:
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his thinking and attitude.”
By the end of the day I felt so proud to be part of such a great profession. Teaching is difficult, incredibly hard work, challenging emotionally and intellectually. But it is the most incredibly rewarding profession to be a part of. Without teachers there would be no lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants, chefs…. We have such an important job to do educating the generation of the future and it is with the home and school working hand in hand that we prepare your children for what lies ahead.
Will your children be ‘World Class?’…we hope so!