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Fuelling Teachers

As educators we run on a complex mixture of passion, grit, dedication, adrenaline, necessity and teamwork.

Most teachers will tell you tales of when they have very nearly (or perhaps completely) burned out.

Because teaching is voracious in it’s consumption of energy. It is physical and emotionally demanding and, if we let it, can be non stop.

There has been a lot of talk of self care (which is great) and work/life balance (brilliant!) but I’d like to discuss something that might elicit a groan from many teachers out there…

CPD! Continued Professional Development.

The inset days spent in the school hall completing mandatory training before embarking upon a one size fits all while school training session that one or two teachers love, some hate, many are confused by and to most support staff is totally irrelevant.

I had the joy and wonderful opportunity of working in a school that allowed each teacher to choose their own CPD and funded it properly (no, it wasn’t a British state school! Surprise!).

It didn’t have to link to the School Development Plan or even the staff member’s SEF from the previous year.

Teachers were encouraged to explore the things they LOVED! The things that drew them to teaching in the first place!

For many secondary teachers this was subject specific. DT teachers went to Robitics design shows to see cutting edge electronics, Art teachers went to learn how to silk paint or make Indian sand drawings, Science teachers went to visit laboratories and talk to leading scientists about their work. For primary it was a mixture: some explored innovative playscapes and visited leading practitioners in early years, some went to the Lego factory and saw how innovative design was changing the very building blocks of play, others went on writing courses with prominent authors or learned a language.

Each came back rejuvenated, enthused, inspired and feeling more fulfilled.

We are not endless pits of creativity and productivity. We need fuel for our imagination just as much as our learners do.

Whilst budget and time restraints mean that this is a pipe dream for most British state schools it might be worthwhile thinking about how best to reskill, reignite and replenish teachers. Give them something to make their eyes light up, their heart leap and their imagination take flight! It is contagious! Our learners learn their love of learning from us. Sometimes we all need a bit of extra special time to rekindle the love!

If we are clever, build community connections and listen to our teachers then we can find ways to bring the best out of the incredible workforce that is the teaching profession.

Add fuel to their fire and watch the embers of love start to burn again!

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The author

Cate has been a teacher for 20 years. She has worked internationally and across all key stages in the UK. Her secondary specialism is Performing Arts with a keen interest in PSHE/RSE. Cate is recently married with two cats who keep her busy and an allotment that requires more time than she can give it!

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