Producing a high-quality product, like baking the perfect cake, requires the right ingredients, precision in assembly and cooking at just the right temperature for exactly the right amount of time. So it is with delivering well-designed CPD. It is really important to us that participants get everything out of our training and that, by the end of the seven days, they are confident and competent in their delivery of Thinking Reading lessons. After all, they’re going to be undertaking a role that is crucial for the children’s futures, and they too will want to ensure that they are as skilled as they can be.
We could teach large groups of people, as that’s quite an economical way to deliver training. However, I have found, when I’ve been in a large group, that it’s quite easy to switch off or blend into the background – almost like a day off. We decided to train up to six people at a time. Small groups mean that there is a high level of participation and that we can address issues that arise with the attention that they deserve.
In our practical sessions we coach tutors until they are accurate in the skills and knowledge that they are learning. We use quizzes to revise the work of the preceding day. There are no surprises – we are not trying to catch people out! We want to ensure that everyone understands the major points of the day: oral and written quizzes help with remembering and understanding through retrieval.
We stagger the training days so that tutors have the opportunity to practise what they have learnt in their school setting until they become fluent. After they have spent a few weeks delivering lessons to their students, we make a return visit to observe them teaching, give immediate oral feedback, and provide detailed written feedback; we also coach tutors through any steps that need more development. This ensures that they are confident and secure in their practice.
Coaching and feedback supports fidelity of delivery, so that each school can achieve the same high-impact results that we have seen repeated with consistent replication of the programme. We know that such replication is key to gaining the rapid, lasting success that we have seen in our own practice.
Consistency is also important in the organisation of the Literacy Centre. Any good piece of technology, educational or otherwise, is replicable. We have a blueprint for resource organisation, including files, furniture and equipment.
Of course, the final step in any recipe is to serve. And that is what this programme does: it serves students. Ultimately it is not about GCSE results, school league tables, or even progress measures. It is about the very heart of teaching: service. It enables us to make up for the years that have been lost, and it helps students to learn that they can be good at learning.
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