Creating a physical space in school for staff to read, research and hone their craft is a great way to elevate the importance of continued professional learning.
Around 2 years ago, I was fortunate enough to have been given a small budget by my headteacher and was given a space in the school to allocate to exactly that. We now have a growing library of books (which is about to be relocated in the central school library so that staff cards can be used to loan and return books) and there is a bookable staff study desk where colleagues can spend their PPA time reading or researching educational topics that are of interest to them.
In the Teaching and Learning Facebook Group (see previous post for details!) a few colleagues had expressed an interest in knowing what was in our library.
There’s a real eclectic mix of educational texts here- I had relied on generous donations from retired teachers, leaders and ITT providers and so a lot of the material spans several years. I also asked staff if there were particular books that they had read which had an impact on their professional practice and whether they thought they might be a worthwhile purchase for other colleagues.
The library catalogue is a growing list, as I’m sure you can imagine. As our priorities and focus continues to change over the next couple of years, we are always on the lookout for titles that would be useful to meet staff where they are with their professional development. If you’ve got any ideas of what you think may be missing here, you can make your suggestions using the hashtag #buyitforyourcpdlibrary or by commenting on this post.
A copy of the library list, as it stands, can be found here: KEVIHS CPD Library Catalogue
New books/ essential reads were also advertised through our half-termly teaching and learning bulletin and competitions also were run for colleagues to win books and then review them for other colleagues.
Sadly, the bulletin has fallen by the wayside since COVID, but we are hoping to continue to share good practice using this methods in the coming months.
In terms of the Research Room, I think there’s real power in having a designated place where reading and research takes place. If colleagues stick to their own working environments, they’re likely to be distracted by long to-do lists or feel the burning glare of a pile of marking that awaits. By allowing the space to be bookable, it creates time to stop, pause and reflect on current practice and make plans on how to be better.
It’s crucial to lay down a few ground rules for the use of the room. Here’s an example of a couple of things we were keen to establish:
Knowing how much teachers have engaged positively over the past year or so at finding areas for development in their own practice and doing something about it- now could be a good time to designate a space to professional learning in your schools. It doesn’t need to be big or grand (ours is literally a few shelves, a desk and an office chair), but it does send a message that taking time to invest in your own learning is critical in this profession.
I’d love to hear more about your staff learning spaces, feel free to comment and share your approaches, too.