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 six 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 have a group oral quiz at the end of each day. These are the same questions that will be asked in written format the following morning. 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: the oral quiz and written quiz help with remembering and understanding through retrieval.
We stagger the training days so that tutors have the opportunity to deliver each part in their school setting. They also have the opportunity to practise 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 continually 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. We can make it even easier to replicate by coming in to the school and overseeing the setup over two days, so that the setup is faster, smoother and less hassle for busy staff.
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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