Reading is probably one of the easiest, and most valuable forms of CPD. As teachers with heavy timetables, however, we probably never found the time to improve our subject and pedagogical knowledge in this way! As mothers and fathers of babies and toddlers that nap (sometimes), reading can be the most compatible way to enrich our teaching and learning and leadership skills to reignite our passion for our subjects and inform our practice when we return to the classroom.
Hear from a range of teachers about how they improved their subject knowledge and pedagogy by lying back with a cup of tea, a baby and a good book.
Performance Director of Mathematics and Numeracy, Hinal Bhudia, is using her maternity leave with her first child to familiarise herself with the new A Level specification.
By reviewing her subject knowledge in reference to the new specification, Hinal was able to work through her own A Level and university text books and use MyMaths and YouTube tutorials to get up to speed on units that she had not taught before.
As an English teacher, the obvious choice for Emma was to read the set texts on the new GCSE specifications from all of the exam boards. In particular, she got to grips with Dickens and after twenty years of trying, finally learned to like him a little bit.
She also finally had time to visit the YA section of her local library and collate reading lists that corresponded with her KS3 SOW so that she chould give her students engaging and relevant reading recommendations.
A great suggestion from @teachingofsci is to use the MTPT community to create reading groups for a specific topic or purpose. Here’s three ways that you might want to make this work, or to use as inspiration to make a reading group work for you and your community:
1. Share the Load: if there are four of you in a reading community interested in literature on AFL, choose four different books to read. Agree on a date to summarise, review and recommend. The rest of the group can then decide which book(s) sounds most interesting for them to spend their time on and read next.
2. Traditional Book Club: my English-teacher brain says that there are all these new 19th century literature texts on the new KS4 curriculum. Why don’t a group of English MTs and PTs get together and read their way through ‘Frankenstein’ and compare notes and analyses every week or so? (Because it’s damn confusing without other contributions!)
3. Pedagogy Reading Challenge: as a result of her maternity leave CPD @chemDrK set up a staff reading group that created a reading list of big names in pedagogical literature for staff members to read through and discuss week by week. Why not check out her school’s blog and see if this approach could be adapted for your CPD needs.
Audio Books and Podcasts
It’s a reality that, especially with very small babies, your hands are not always free to hold books and turn pages, but reading doesn’t always have to involve paper and print. Why not spend some of your precious SMP on an Audible account – a great investment for a busy English teacher – or subscribe to a podcast that explores your subject.
From The Educators on Radio 4, to a personal favourite, ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class‘ (the tone is great for KS3!), there are hundreds of podcasts that explore your subject specialism, pedagogy, or policy in education that you can listen to whilst feeding, cuddling, nappy changing or playing.
For any multi-lingual families – listening to podcasts in your home language is also a strategy suggested by Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert in her book,‘Language Strategies for Bilingual Families‘, as a great way of immersing your child in sophisticated communication of your mother tongue.
When we asked the MTPT community about their top recommendations for generic reading whilst on parental leave, the same titles came up again and again. There must be something powerful about these texts!