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Maximising CPD Inset Days: Daffodils, quick wins, and big wins

Maximising CPD Inset Days: Daffodils, quick wins, and big wins

4 min read
  • Becoming evidence-informed

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a key part of a teacher’s career. But with the limited time schools and educators can afford to spend on it, designing the training with long-lasting change in mind becomes crucial.

So, how do we include this in our training? And what does that look like in practice, department by department? InnerDrive’s Lead Psychologist, Bradley Busch explains his strategies in this blog…

The Daffodil Experiment, and what is says about CPD Inset days

One of my favourite research papers is the Daffodil Experiment. In it, the researchers asked students to predict their future behaviour – in this case, whether they would buy a daffodil as part of a charity fundraiser. After counting how many daffodils were actually sold, the researchers found that students had over-estimated the likelihood of them purchasing one.

It’s not that the participants of the study were lying when they said they were planning on buying lots of daffodils. It’s just that converting good intentions into behaviour change is really hard (as a side note, this is why gyms make so much money every January).

Which brings us to staff CPD Inset days. If you can say the right thing, and if you say it in the right way, these training sessions can spark a wave of enthusiasm for evidence-informed change. And yet, the daffodil study serves as a reminder that this is not enough.

Practical, evidence-informed Teacher CPD your staff will actually love. Develop Teaching & Learning at your school thanks to Cognitive Science research.

How can we inspire lasting change after CPD Inset days?

One way we try to overcome this in our Teacher CPD training at InnerDrive is by encouraging staff to think about quick wins and/or big wins.

Quick wins are ones that you can do immediately, which will start to generate positive momentum. Big wins, which should be confined to one priority, take more time and planning. Rushing into these can lead to frustration, ineffectiveness and can cause more problems down the line.

What this looks like in practice

Recently, after delivering a morning of training on recent Cognitive Science research at one school, we spent the afternoon working with the departments to help them identify their quick and/or big wins.

For many, this was specifically driven by the nature of their subject as well as their context of the previous few years. Here is what they said they would do:

  • English – The quick win was to use more Cold-Calling in lessons and the big win was to use scaffolding for extended writing tasks the following year.
  • MFL – The big win was to interleave vocabulary learning with students.
  • Geography – The quick win was to interleave learning about glaciers and river formation.
  • Maths – The quick win was to spend more time on retrieval at the start of lessons and the big win was to increase the participation ratio in the classroom.
  • Design and Technology – The big win was to figure out how to better scaffold support, as the subject comes with a lot of independent project work, especially given the emerging technology of the past few years.
  • Physics – The quick win was to using multiple-choice quizzes at the start of some lesson, and the big win was to work on how to embed retrieval across the curriculum, given the amount of content this subject covers.
  • Biology – The quick win was to start retrieving key terms on current topics.
  • Chemistry – The quick win was to lower the stakes during Retrieval Practice, and the big win was to design and develop worked examples.
  • Art – The big win was to develop videos for students to watch to aid scaffolding.
  • Business Studies – The big win was to think about which topics to interleave the following year.
  • Music – The big win was to figure out how to improve Interleaving in key stage 3 and key stage 4.

On reflection, it is interesting to note that many view Retrieval Practice as a quicker win and Interleaving as a strategy that needs more time and consideration as to how maximise it. Perhaps this reflects some of the confusion that has historically existed on Interleaving (but that’s perhaps a discussion for a future blog to explore more).

Final thoughts

The spark of an initial idea requires a different type of fuel to maintain it. Focusing on quick wins for momentum and big wins for impact can result in meaningful and purposeful behaviour change. As a result, it means that CPD days lead to people actually buying lots of daffodils – in other words, long-lasting impact on your students’ learning outcomes.

About the editor

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch is a Chartered Psychologist and a leading expert on illuminating Cognitive Science research in education. As Director at InnerDrive, his work focuses on translating complex psychological research in a way that is accessible and helpful. He has delivered thousands of workshops for educators and students, helping improve how they think, learn and perform. Bradley is also a prolific writer: he co-authored four books including Teaching & Learning Illuminated and The Science of Learning, as well as regularly featuring in publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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