I have been a teacher for 21 yrs, ask me to stand in front of a class and even with only 10 mins planning I would be ok for an hour lesson. Ask me to deliver a 15 min inset to staff and I will be a bag of nerves and planning for weeks. I am sure that many of you feel the same. Standing up and talking to your colleagues is so much more stressful. Here are the main key issues:
Subject knowledge: I am not an expert but with pupils I can almost “ pretend to be” and if they ask a questions and I answer “ don’t know”, it doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal but with my colleagues I feel that I should know my stuff. I am the one that they turn to for safeguarding expertise. Yet what I am delivering, do I really understand it? I mean I read A LOT, and I have been on courses and dealt with a few issues but can I/we know everything? This term inset for example is mainly focused on the new Data Protection requirements and the new guidance for Sexual Violence and Harassment. All I am really doing is summarising the documents into my schools speak (how we do it here) and giving staff some case studies, of which they will want to know, “ and what should we do in that situation?”. I have tried and used guest speakers which can be great (although expensive) but staff still turn to you at the end and expect you to know the answer. So perhaps now I understand why I spend so much time on twitter or reading.
Staffroom experience: I really respect and admire my colleagues. They have years of experience and have dealt with some pretty tough situations with me. I have seen them help students through dark times. How can I honestly stand up and “teach then to suck eggs?” There are also new staff who have had better training at their previous schools or on their teacher training. ( You can hear my self-doubt creeping in). I also know that there are staff who will listen respectfully and then ask me a great question, but one that will make me stumble and have to think. They don’t mean it maliciously, they just want to fully understand what I am expecting from them, but ……… This has taken me some time to address. When preparing an inset I now run through it with the question “ what would Bob think?” and I would like to thank Bob ( obviously not his name) because this has made me better and made my insets more concise and honest, ( although he still manages to catch me out).
Worse of all, no one listening to me: Normally around this time of year you see tweets about dull and pointless Inset. Staff that would rather get on with the start of term. They have sat through endless meetings and you have the graveyard slot or worse the one just before lunch. You look up to your colleagues and they are all on their iPad, reading through the emails that have just been sent or worse tweeting about how rubbish the inset is. It’s hard to make safeguarding exciting, unfortunately there is a lot of areas that we have to cover and I can see staff frustration sometimes but I hope they understand how important it is, even if I promise that I will never say “ you have to know this for inspection purposes”, although I have been tempted.
I suppose what I am trying to say is, if you have just sat through an inset, please spare a thought for those that delivered it, and if you thought it was OK, then please let them know. And if you have just delivered an inset, go you. I am proud of you.