When we look at what a massive difference it can make in a student’s life, it is great to see how the interest in the impact of psychology and neuroscience research on teaching practices has grown in the past few years.
However, it isn’t always easy for teachers to access this research and, more importantly, learn how to use it in their classrooms. This is why good, reliable, evidence-based CPD matters.
But how can teachers know what they can trust when it comes to choosing a CPD workshop? And what exactly should they expect from one?
What makes great CPD?
Efficient CPD offers one of the most effective ways to improve student performance, increase staff retention and develop a culture of excellence across a whole school – in the long term. We think that effective CPD is:
- Evidence-informed – Using the latest and most relevant research.
- Practical – What do the findings mean to you and your classroom?
- Affordable – Being cost-effective is vital, especially at a time when budgets are being slashed.
- Enjoyable – Because life is too short for another boring CPD session.
And if you’re after good online CPD, this is what we think you should look for…
It is with these criteria in mind that we develop our own teacher CPD workshops. We believe that is the reason why we get such good feedback from the schools we visit. Even though every school is different and faces different challenges, to help you understand how these workshops can help you, we have identified some of the most important areas that good CPD can help address…
Growth Mindset: Resilient learners
Growth mindset is a learning theory developed by Dr Carol Dweck, revolving around the belief that we can improve our intelligence, abilities and performance.
A recent survey found that 98% of teachers believe that if their students had a growth mindset it wold lead to improved student learning, but only 20% of them believe they are good at fostering a growth mindset and 85% want more training and practical strategies.
Research suggests that developing a growth mindset in schools should be subtle and stealthy – they shouldn’t feel like an obvious one-off intervention to students. This is why a Growth Mindset CPD workshop, allowing all staff to make long-term changes across the school, effectively improving its culture, could be preferable.
Why is developing a growth mindset culture across an entire school so important? Well, teachers’ mindset matters too. A research paper posed a question to teachers – one of your students gets a low mark in their exam (65%). What do you think of this student’s ability and how would you respond? Those with a fixed mindset took this as evidence that the student did not have a talent for maths and were more likely to respond with a ‘comfort focus’ (along the lines of ‘it’s ok, not everyone is good a maths, don’t feel bad about it, I’ll give you easier questions to answer to make you feel less stressed’). Teachers with a growth mindset believed it was too early to make a judgement on the child’s maths ability and were more likely to offer ‘strategy focus’ which included tips on how to get better and setting them challenging questions.
What impact did these alternative strategies have on students? Those who receive comfort strategy reported being less motivated than those who had received the strategy approach, and when asked how they thought they would do on their next exam comfort focused students estimated about the same level (65%) whereas the strategy focused students estimated significantly higher (80%). This suggests that a teacher’s mindset and beliefs mediates their teaching philosophy and strategies, which in turn influences student motivation and self-expectation.
Understanding the science of learning
Reports such as ‘What Makes Great Teaching’ and the ‘Science of Learning’ highlight that we now know more than ever about what type of strategies lead to better memory, concentration and motivation. Using this research and creating effective classroom strategies and routines is surely the next step. It is obvious that understanding how our students learn is the key to teaching them better.
Many examples come to mind when we think of efficient strategies that have rightfully gained more attention from schools these past years.
For example, we now know that Retrieval Practice is one of the best strategies to improve long-term memory, and can be as easy to use as quizzes, past papers or multiple choice exams. To find out more about this and how to use it with your students, we recommend the Retrieval Practice topic area on the Teacher CPD Academy.
Other examples of efficient and easy to use but poorly understood strategies include Spacing, Interleaving and Dual Coding – find out more about them in the video below.
If you want a wider overview of how research could be applied to your classroom, here are some resources we recommend:
- The Science of Learning: 99 studies that every teacher should know, our best-selling book that introduces you to the most important research and its applications.
- We also adapted this book into a CPD workshop, so you can engage more deeply with the most important findings.
- Our free email course about the Science of Teaching and Learning
Good CPD may be hard to find, but we believe that its benefits are worth it. Whatever challenge your staff is facing, our CPD workshops can help – browse the whole range here, or get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be happy to help you find a course that best benefits your school.