What HertsCam does
Our core programmes are the school-based Teacher Led Development Work (TLDW) programme and the MEd in Leading Teaching and Learning, but there are many other activities and projects through which network members pursue their aims. At our Network Events – six during the course of the year - and at our Annual Conference, it is inspiring to see teachers sharing accounts of their development work and working together to build robust professional knowledge.
We also enter into partnerships with other organisations to support school self-evaluation and to enable others to build programmes to support teacher leadership.
We have worked with partners in more than 17 countries around the world to help create programmes of support for teacher leadership.
Recruiting for the MEd for Sept. 2017
HertsCam is now offering places recruiting for this unique masters programme that enables teachers and other practitioners to become effective agents of change.
This programme is uniquely led by teachers themselves - see David's Blog below.
If you want to know more, go to Programmes tab above or click on the Button below
Samuel Ryder Academy network event: Tuesday 7 March
David Frost writes a monthly blog focusing on aspects of teacher leadership.
Snapshot of a teacher-led masters course
Imagine the scene. It is a late Tuesday afternoon in January. We are in a suite of classrooms in a secondary school in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Teachers are arriving from all over the region. Eventually there are about forty people gathered in out of the cold, grabbing the tea and biscuits and having animated conversations about their day’s work – teaching in primary, secondary and special schools. Amongst this crowd of teachers are six or seven who are very busy arranging the furniture, logging on to computers, arranging piles of documents, fetching the sandwiches and cake trolley, making last minute adjustments to PPT presentations and having ‘conflabs’ about the activities that will be leading from around 4.45pm. These very busy teachers break off from their preparations to say hi to other teachers as they arrive and by 4.30 they are prepared, relaxed and ready to lead the 3 hour ‘twilight session’ of the HertsCam MEd in Leading Teaching and Learning.
In one classroom there is a session for the Year 2 cohort who are just starting their fourth Module, ‘Leading Development Work’. The Module Leader, Clare Herbert, is a primary school headteacher and member of the MEd Tutor Team. She opens the session by saying something about her own biography. She tells the participants that she has been a teacher for fifteen years and a member of HertsCam for ten. She had been a participant in an earlier version of this MEd programme and shortly after graduating had become a supervisor on the programme. She became a headteacher a couple of years ago and is also in the final stages of a part-time doctoral study. In teaching this module Clare is assisted by another long-standing member of the HertsCam team, Paul Rose who is an assistant headteacher and English teacher in a secondary school. Jeni McLean, a Year Head in a secondary school is also helping to teach this module.
January Blog continued...
In another classroom, the Year 1 cohort are being introduced to their second Module, ‘Improving Teaching and Learning: Exploring Starting Points for Development’, by the Module Leader, Tracy Gaiteri. Like Clare, Tracy starts by outlining her teaching career and her experience as the headteacher in two schools. Particularly inspiring was her story about how being a participant in the HertsCam masters herself was transformative. She said that it had enabled her to focus on the most pressing professional problems for her at that time and, by applying the rigours of scholarship and engaging in collaborative dialogue with colleagues, she had been able to improve practice in her school. In teaching this module Tracy is supported by Maria Santos-Richmond, who also outlined her biography as a secondary school teacher with more than 20 years of experience. Also teaching this module is Alis Rocca, also currently on her second headship in a primary school.
Tracy, Alis, Clare, Paul, Maria and Jenni are part of a team of twelve teachers who teach this masters course. They are both ordinary and special. They are ordinary in that they are teachers in state schools, but they are special in that they have chosen to become scholar practitioners - something I have written about before (see my blog post, 13.5.13). You might assume that they do this on behalf of and under the supervision of a university. No. They own this programme. They plan the modules. They teach the modules. They provide one-to-one supervision. They assess assignments. This unique masters programme belongs entirely to HertsCam which is an independent charity governed and managed by teachers.
If you want to know more, you can email the Programme Leader Sarah Lightfoot (email@example.com) or her Deputy, Sheila Ball (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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Previous posts can be found here:
Lucy Thompson, Deputy Headteacher at Samuel Ryder Academy (SRA) introduced the event’s theme of innovation to an audience of over 60 people. Lucy reminded us that when there is such little time in schools for innovation, HertsCam makes us take the time. She then passed over to Lorette Hyslop who exemplified how engagement in the TLDW programme and the MEd enables teachers to innovate practice in schools. Lorette shared colleague Michelle Jenkins’ journey of innovating boys’ writing through a TLDW project and how this led to the MEd focusing on student leadership and an opportunity to share her knowledge internationally at a Network Event in Zagreb. Lorette shared her own MEd journey explaining that for innovation to take place you have to create the conditions: “HertsCam gave me the conditions that enabled me to grow and provided the environment that enabled me to flourish”.
A diverse range of posters enabled networking and knowledge sharing. Some TLDW participants were presenting posters for the first time such as Sarah Tweddell from Robert Barclay Academy(left) whose project is focused on sixth formers developing strategies to raise awareness of mental health and well-being in school. As well as illustrating what she has done so far to promote mental health including organising a whole day of workshops, her poster also invited ideas from participants. Lorraine Kerby’s workshop raised a real leadership issue of how to get colleagues on board with a particular strategy. Having conducted learning walks, the issue was clear: a lack of consistency in practice regarding the teaching of more able learners. Should she enforce a “packaged” approach as she had seen when visiting another school? This generated much discussion about prescription versus choice. Strategies such as focusing on a particular skill such as higher order thinking with colleagues experimenting with this in their classrooms were shared. Washing lines of successful strategies and sharing strategies in staff briefings were some examples of ensuring that experimentation happened and knowledge was shared. Georgina Northcroft’s workshop provoked much heated debate about how to feedback effectively to pupils. Contributions from colleagues from special, primary and secondary phases highlighted how diverse these contexts are and the importance of cross phase collaboration to improve learners’ experiences.
Empowerment and facilitation
Being a university academic is a particularly privileged life and I am especially I am blessed with having some wonderful doctoral students from whom I learn a lot. For example, I recently had a supervision with Hanan Ramahi. She is remarkable because not only is she an extraordinary champion of teacher leadership, but also because she is the author of the ground breaking report - ‘Education in Palestine: Current Challenges and Emancipatory Alternatives’ (you can find this under Publications on this site).
After our supervision, Hanan and I ran into John MacBeath who enquired how she was getting on. She said: “Oh, it’s great, David really empowers me”, but MacBeath was quick to challenge the construction. “Nobody can empower you”, he said, “you can only empower yourself”. Hanan quickly acceded and reconstructed her comment as: “David facilitates my empowerment.”. This was an interesting exchange because it highlights an issue which is at the very heart of HertsCam’s approach to teacher leadership. In the documentation that guides our programmes there is explicit reference to a ‘pedagogy for empowerment’. You can’t teach empowerment, of course. You can discuss the idea and agree that it is a desirable goal, but the key question is what can be done to enable people to become empowered. In Hanan Ramahi’s teacher leadership programme in Ramallah, Palestine, she has observed changes in teachers in her school. They have become more vocal and they exhibit all the signs of growing confidence. They are excited and seem to be relishing the opportunity to be influential. We have seen this too in HertsCam. Teachers, and other practitioners, engaged in teacher-led development work are visibly transformed. I think it is reasonable to say that they have become more empowered.
What is making the difference here? As Hanan was quoted as saying at the beginning of my story, it is a matter of facilitation. This is antithetical to concepts like instruction and training. Facilitation is partly about creating the conditions within which people can think for themselves, support each other in their reflection and planning. It is also a matter of using tools designed to provide focus, stimulation and structure for dialogue through which individuals can clarify their values and priorities, share perspectives and challenge each other. Engagement in such focused and productive dialogue leads to the ability to express ideas with confidence but also to open their minds to alternative ideas. Thus, assertiveness and self-efficacy are strengthened and easily transferred from the safety of the workshop environment - where participants are like-minded and committed to mutual support – to the potentially more hazardous terrain of the interpersonal interactions and transactions that are the stuff of teacher leadership. Practitioners who want to take up the challenge of leading change in their schools need to sharpen their ability to communicate their ideas, but they also refine the art of negotiation and persuasion.
Having benefitted from the facilitation they have experienced in a TLDW group or on the HertsCam MEd, practitioners find themselves facilitating reflection and self-evaluation on the part of their colleagues, in order to advance the goals of their projects. Some of them also find themselves taking on the role of TLDW Tutor and member of the MEd teaching team where a facilitative approach leads to empowerment for those who participate in those programmes.
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