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Setting Up INSETT

Lesson Four Staff Expectations Commentary.


When reflecting on the list of possible staff expectations, you may have
decided that all of them were held, to some extent, in your workplace. You
could almost match the expectations in the first list with the unspoken
assumptions in the second list; That it will be relevant = that I will be
shown the right way to do things in the classroom, for example. [Of
course, the concept that there is a right way in itself needs unpicking.]
Only you know
what your context and your teachers backgrounds, skills and experiences
are, as well as what you think they expect. This section is not intended to
be prescriptive; it offers some thoughts based on my own experience of
both receiving INSET and being responsible for providing INSET in schools
with awide mix of age, backgrounds and experience.
Expectations

That it will happen


That it will be regular

It is important to establish a climate when systematic staff development is


associated with a particular day and time. This is your chance to establish
a new status quo in your workplace! If there has not been a specific time
for seminars, poll teachers and find out what suits the majority. You may
find that you have to run parallel sessions if the maximum number of
people are to attend. Its advisable not to offer more than 2 options in
terms of place/time, or you will find yourself racing all over the place
delivering the same session to very small groups. Even if the parallel
sessions have a small attendance, it means those teachers attending feel
involved and valued, rather than marginalised and excluded, so its worth
it. One important [and often overlooked] feature of seminars is that it is a
chance for the body of teachers to get together something which is often
difficult, due to timetable constraints.
Once you fix the times and frequency stick to them! Dont change these
because of demands on your time, for example. You are setting these
sessions as part of the schools week, so in the mid to long term staff will
automatically think Wednesday afternoon = INSET session. Write the
sessions in your diary as fixed appointments, and plan in the preparation
time you need [if you are delivering the session or the support time you
need to give the session leader, if it is another staff member.] This is part
of your job you are not slacking if you prepare the session in your work
time.
Another benefit of fixed seminar sessions is that it allows you to
demonstrate that you are providing a programme of INSET, rather than a
knee-jerk reaction to events. However, always present the programme to
teachers as being prepared to change it remember whose programme it
is.

That it will be practical


That it will be relevant
That it will be delivered by someone who knows what they are
talking about
That Ill get lots of tricks/ideas/techniques to take into my class, so I
wont have to spend so long in planning
That Ill receive input from someone else, and I can listen
That Ill be shown the right way to do things in the classroom

These have been grouped together because they seem to me to be


different sides of the same coin. The only one with which we might take
issue is the right way to do things, as this assumes that there is a right
way although certainly we can help teachers to become more effective
teachers, and help them to promote more effective learning in the
classroom.
One expectation which trainers often find annoying is the bag of tricks
expectation. This seems perfectly reasonable to me, although perhaps
recasting it would help: that I will get some practical ideas to use in my
classroom teaching. If teachers give up their time to go to a seminar, it is
reasonable for them to want something concrete at the end of it [although
this can vary given the different needs of different staff groups, their
training and experience.]
One interesting aspect of offering training seminars to teachers is that
teachers are very resistant to seminars conducted using a similar
methodological approach to that which they use when teaching their
classes. Teachers who employ, for example, pair and group work in class
will [audibly?] groan when a seminar-giver asks them to get into groups.
Its almost
as if the only good seminar is a lecture! This is closely tied to the idea of
the seminar being delivered by someone who knows what they are talking
about. It would certainly not be advisable to run all your seminars in a
lecture format but its important to be mindful of the fact that, after a
busy working week, many teachers want to be told. So, by all means use
pair/group work but do it judiciously, just as you would in an ELT class. If
the emphasis of the seminar is on ideas sharing, for example, then scope
for transmissive input is less than if it is 10 ways to help students with
pronunciation problems. Equally, remember that the someone who
knows what they are talking about doesnt always have to be you.
Encouraging staff to participate in the delivery of seminars can validate
their skills and experience and also ensure their
involvement.

That it may be a black mark against me if I dont attend

That Ill be paid to attend.

The first one is very reflective of the prevailing organisational culture in


your organisation. For example, I know of one organisation where pay was
affected by the number of seminars attended in the semester. In this
same organisation, the pick of classes was given to
those who regularly attended seminars. The argument here was that it
made sense to give those teachers who were committed to their
development first choice, as they would obviously work harder. The result,
though, was that a clique quickly formed and the staffroom became
polarised, with muttered accusations of DOSs pet! flying around. In this
case, take the TACOS as your starting point if attendance at seminars is
not stated as compulsory, then you cant discipline, in any way, staff who
choose not to attend. You can
invite them but the point of an invitation is that you can choose to
accept or refuse it! This is where you need to play a long game. Hopefully
the provision of INSET will, over time, affect a sea change in the behaviour
and approach of some of your staff, which will in turn interest and enthuse
others. There will always be the minority who refuse to change or get
involved, and for those my only recourse is to accept them as they are
yet keep trying! Small changes are still changes. ..
Payment for attendance is such a hot potato. A lot depends on your
organisations attitude to INSET, as discussed earlier. If your organisation
cant afford to pay teachers, can it (for example) provide lunch? A small
gesture of organisational support is often all thats needed.