Tags: Citizenship and PSHE | CPD partnerships | CPD provision | Developing Citizenship Project | Teaching Skills
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Tips for running staff training in the global dimension of citizenship, by Topsy Page, Manchester DEP.

It was a cold December day. Nearly Christmas. Term had ended and all that was left for this school after a difficult term was their annual INSET, and much more importantly, the annual staff Christmas party.

A hotel on Manchester’s ring road was the venue – no one would need to drive home. Hangovers could be slept off as the next day’s training session had been cancelled.

I had been given the 3pm slot and the atmosphere was already party-like. Lots of whoops and jeers could be heard as I waited outside with my trolley of resources on the global dimension. I peered through the crack in the door wondering how The Literacy Strategy could be so exciting. At the front I saw two teachers dressed up in red miniskirts and Santa hats, the odd bottle of wine on the tables. Generally a very raucous atmosphere. How on earth was I going to interest them in the bloody global dimension?

Martin, Citizenship Coordinator and my contact teacher, had a slight look of fear in his eye as he took me over to the front and shushed his colleagues. Avidly assuring them that this session would not result in them having to do yet more work, he handed over to me.

Play the game

The Ball Game. That’s always a good one to start with. ‘Stand up everyone, make a circle please.’  Wow, 70 people in a circle. That’s a lot. Was this going to work? 

However, despite a few problems with hand-eye coordination, it did work. The inflatable globe made its way around the room and suddenly people began to listen to each other. ‘I didn’t know you used to live in Switzerland.’ ‘Tenerife, you lucky thing! ‘Canada? Wow!’ The staff team at Broadoak High School had a huge array of global connections.

Globingo was next, and then a chance in groups to discuss why on earth the pupils at Broadoak (a virtually all-white school in a disadvantaged suburb of Greater Manchester) needed an international dimension to the curriculum.

But perhaps the best bit of the session was when staff from different departments worked together in small groups to think about/discuss how they could bring a global dimension into their subject areas (or the school as a whole).

Participation

The three staff training sessions I have done during the Developing Citizenship Project have all had something in common. An initial resistance, related to a completely reasonable fear of having to do more work, followed by an enthusiasm for being given space to discuss and digest the importance – of bringing the global dimension to the school, of encouraging the pupils to see themselves as not just citizens, but citizens of the world. Global citizens with responsibilities, as well as perhaps possibilities and opportunity.

The importance, also, of participatory teaching methods – encouraging people to think for themselves, question. The use of methods such as Circle Time (hardly used in secondary schools) to encourage co-operation, teamwork and awareness-raising.

In a nutshell I would say that the opportunity to have a session with staff, be it the entire staff team or just some of them, is a great one, and can have a real and lasting impact in the school.

Yes, it is a bloody hassle to sort out. We requested these staff sessions from Day One, Year One of the project. Yet, in all four of my project schools they have actually been carried out in the last six months of the three year project – after much reminding, negotiating and hassling! But well worth it and a very rewarding experience.

Tips

  • play games/do something fun
  • go for a shorter, snappier session if doing it as a twilight
  • bring free resources make people happy!
  • allow time to look at resources, individually or in small groups, to consider where and how they could be used in existing, or new, schemes of work/other areas of school
  • ensure you have resources for all subjects if doing an all-staff session (an angry PE teacher is not a pretty sight!)
  • doing a round on what they like about teaching citizenship can be a great start to a session as it really brings people together (or, for an all-staff team do a round about something they like about the school)
  • give out a brief handout/copies of exercises to avoid the need for note-taking.

Long-term change

How can we get our projects to have a lasting impact beyond the funded project itself? How can we generate long-term change in schools?  What have I learnt from the Developing Citizenship Project about how a Development Education centre can ensure that its work with a school goes beyond the project.

Communication

Personal relationships are hard work – they require energy to maintain. They can be full of communication problems, misunderstandings, etc. Sound familiar? Well, really it is the same with DEC-teacher relationships. New to the Developing Citizenship Project, it took me a while to figure out what was going on – why were my e-mails being replied to by only one teacher? Why were my faxes being replied to by only one (different) teacher. Wow – what a revelation when I realised that Teacher 1 responded to emails (only), Teacher 2 faxes (only), Teacher 3 could be got hold of by ringing direct to the school, while of course Teacher 4 could only be contacted by ringing her personal mobile number which she did always answer!

Well, it’s not rocket science but still it took me a while to get it. And what a difference it made. Yes it is a bloody hassle not being able to use a snazzy distribution list and write an e-mail to four teachers in one fell swoop (imagine that!). But, yippee – I can now (well nearly always) get a quick response when I need to. I sometimes even have a conversation with a teacher in a secondary school! Secondary schools are often so big and so insular it really is worth taking time to figure out a communication strategy that will work for you and your teacher.

So as I was saying… relationships. Well, we are now at the end of the project and I feel quite chuffed that (three out of four of) my contact teachers are really starting to feel like colleagues, friends nearly. Not just four scary Citizenship Coordinators in four scary secondary schools.

We have come a long way in three years – there was the moment when one school nearly left the project feeling too pressurised (£1000 per year for a school and a bit of support from a DEC is quite small in the scale of things for a scondary school), the moment when one school nearly got kicked off the project for not doing enough (nothing) until they got a dynamic new Citizenship Coordinator – trained, of course, as a science teacher, with one years experience of teaching – wait for it – Spanish. Yes, obviously a perfect choice for a Citizenship Coordinator. But he was. He is. He really has made a visible and sustainable impact in his school. And the great thing is, I feel part of that.

Making a lasting difference

So, how to ensure it doesn’t stop once the DEC has no money left? That is, when the project funding ends. Difficult. In fact, the hardest thing is to say No when further support is requested/suggested/obviously needed.

At a recent teachers’ project meeting, which was, incidentally, the best yet – planning does not always make for a good meeting – I was so used to people not being able to make it that I actually did not plan the session. Didn’t do my usual fancy agenda full of exciting energisers and interactive, innovative global dimension exercises. Didn’t book a special room. Didn’t even get fancy cakes or fair trade bananas. Oops, and everyone turned up! And, you know what, it was great. I felt quite moved when they all confided to each other their feelings of being excluded, marginalised, undervalued, or ignored by other staff – ‘Citizenship isn’t that important, is it?’, ‘No, I do not want to teach about world debt today in form period – why should I?’, etc.

I felt even more moved, quite emotional in fact, when they all said that they wanted to – needed to – continue to meet up after the project ends. It really is a lonely and very pressurised existence being citizenship coordinator. Don’t forget, most are people who feel strongly about justice and equality – people who more often than not are also involved in out-of-school initiatives, as well as breaking their necks in school organising Earth Summits, mock elections, Islam Awareness Weeks, Send My Friend to School assemblies, trips to London to meet MPs, fair trade stalls, Global Days, plus of course writing new schemes of work about global citizenship and trying to convince stroppy colleagues that Yes they do have to teach citizenship, it is statutory.

This work © Oxfam GB, Save the Children UK and UNICEF (UK), 2007. Part of the Developing Citizenship project.

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