The staffroom: the long forgotten CPD resource

Everyone loves a natter, especially over a cup of tea or lunch. In the past, when this has happened in the staffroom, talk turned quickly from what was on TV the night before, to the events occurring in the classroom today. Whenever a member of staff shared their experiences, organically CPD (or professional conversations) would begin to take place. Supportive colleagues would either offer suggestions for improvements if someone was struggling, or “magpie” an idea they thought was exceptional.

Over the years, in some settings, this culture has eroded away. Some schools have staffrooms that every day, have a piece of tumbleweed rolling through, during every period and during every lunch or break; an abandoned resource in the school. Some schools have spotted this and turned it into a classroom! Others have a policy of the staffroom only being used for briefings and meetings, and it is never to be used at other points of the day (hopefully many of these do not exist!).

Then there is the clientele of the staffroom. Much like a David Attenborough documentary, the staffroom habitat can be watched closely and analysed. There’s the main stayers, the old guard, those that have seen it all. Then there’s the support staff and some specific departments sitting together (never the oddball science department though, they always keep themselves in the mystery that is the prep room). Rarely do you see a NQT or early career teachers in the staffroom; many feel like they would get distracted and buckle under workload pressures if they tried to work away from the comfort and quiet of their own teaching rooms; they see the staffroom as a distraction rather than a support mechanism.

While all this is happening, the potential for the staffroom to be a hub of CPD is being lost. So how do we claim it back?

Step one: Build it and they will come

  1. Reinvigorate the staff room by encouraging all to come; bring and share food events are great for this, as well as cake Fridays or themed food days.
  2. Hold mental health and well-being events in the staffroom e.g. meditation, yoga
  3. Create spaces for staff to sit and talk, and also places for staff to work – consult on whether these are to segregated or kept together.

Step two: Encourage professional conversations

  1. In the staffroom put up adverts for key local and national CPD events that staff may be interested in attending; show how these link to department and school wide development plans
  2. Distribute articles of key ideas to do with topical pedagogy, or posters that display pedagogy in a clear, precise and easy to digest manner (e.g. use the work of Oliver Caviglioli!)
  3. Create a set of CPD discussion cards – a set of common scenarios or questions on cards that can be left out of tables that contain key CPD ideas; these can be picked up and shared to encourage professional discussion.
  4. Invite staff from your MAT or feeder schools in to discuss what they are doing, encouraging staff with similar interests to buddy up and stay in touch.
  5. Create a CPD lending library – drop one off to take one away
  6. Put up a list of potential action research projects that leadership would be interesting in knowing about – see who takes the bait and encourage risk taking to take place!

While I am aware there are many effective and well used staffrooms up and down the country, hopefully some of these ideas listed are useful. The vast majority of these are low cost, but also high impact. Think creatively about the spaces that you have, and provide staff with the best chance of having professional discussions. Let’s make staffrooms great again!

A poster distilling this blog post, a PDF version of this is can be downloaded from the resources section

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