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Mike Fleetham Mike's Thinking Classroom Blog

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On Active CPD

Let me introduce the 'CPD Learning Crawl':

Pick 3 venues within walking distance of each other. Agree a learning focus and choose a facilitator for each venue. Ensure refreshments, good company and a bright Summer's day. Begin.

A cynical view might label this a thinly disguised pub crawl. And that view could not be more wrong. Seriously wrong. A CPD Learning Crawl actually draws on both ancient and modern learning techniques and attempts to preserve a vital facet of professional growth all but vanished in the current Govian world.

Recently I was an invited CPDLC (see above) 3rd facilitator at the final venue for my region's NUT young teachers. Let's unpick what I was a small part of. 3 big wins:

1. The Art of Memory or Ars memoriae is an ancient set of techniques for improving recall, combination and organisation of thoughts. Practices such as Architectural Mnemonics and Method of Loci prompt the learner to link content to place thereby associating diverse learning points through association both to a physical location and between locations. 

For the young teachers on a CPDLC, each venue is now firmly linked to the experiences they had there. Recall of one will bring to mind the other. Here's a Thinking Tool (free login) to develop this in school.

2. Accelerated Learning techniques emerged in 1970s but only took hold in schools 30 years later. An activity I know as Walk n Talk pairs pupils in learning conversations carried out while walking a circuit. The chat might be a lesson review, a sharing of opinion or a problem solving task. Recall and understanding can improve when learning is embedded in an active context such as this.

For the young teachers on a CPDLC the informal conversations they had between venues will come more easily to mind when the routes and company spring up in memory.

3. Emotional Intelligence - being the combination of Gardner's Interpersonal and Intrapersonal intelligences - is under severe threat. (my view on working with thousands of teachers across the UK this year). External pressures are increasing often around changes that deeply challenge an educator's value system and time to live it out. Focusses on facts rather than feelings, and on stuffing learning in rather than drawing it out are at odds with why most people chose to give their skills to the growth of others. Time to connect with colleagues, to develop networks, to share and solve problems is under attack from a growing list of debatable 'things to do'.

For the young teachers on a CPDLC the opportunity to connect socially, professionally and away from school is invaluable in creating lifelong growth networks. Not just for sharing lesson plans, but for letting off steam, for celebrating successes and for staying human in a system that is slowly but surely evolving into a hideous machine.

So there we have it. The Learning Crawl. A highly recommended model for the professional growth of our valuable educators. Thanks to NUT for inviting me to be a small part of their event and for modelling exemplary practice in the way they develop practice itself. The Caesar Salad was superb and guess what, we were talking about growth mindsets, pupil aspiration, university entrance and shared school experiences while we ate. I remember!

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