The Importance of Continuing Professional Development as an Educator

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) enables educators to keep up-to-date with knowledge in their field as well as with the newest pedagogical approaches. CPD offers newly qualified teachers an opportunity to explore a variety of new methods and techniques (in addition to the standard theories and techniques outlined on a teacher training course) from experienced practitioners to add to their tools going into the profession whilst also providing and encouraging longer serving teachers to stay in touch with the most recent developments in the profession and to continue to challenge their own teaching practice.

I have had such an enriched summer of CPD by attending sessions and delivering my own workshops. It’s been a fun ride, from finally catching up with Martin Griffin and engaging with his session on Mindset and looking at the VESPA intervention model, chatting to Mark Burns on Teaching Backwards, developing and discussing feedback strategies with Pete Sanderson, realising my own moral teaching compass with Ewan McIntosh, further developing my coaching and leadership skills at an ASCL Leadership Development course and ending the academic year delivering my own workshops and talks on Effective questioning in the classroom and how to best utilise technology such as Kahoot! as an effective assessment tool;  there was a lot to think about and to implement and a lot to be excited about going into a new academic year invigorated and ready to try out new things and to share what I had found with my colleagues and students!

 

As the summer ended, six thoughts about CPD came to mind which I initially scribbled on sticky notes on the coach and train rides home from these events:

1) Choice is Important

Part of why I enjoy teaching is being able to choose the CPD that I can attend and that I deliver. It allows us to shape our own individual teaching practice. Choice is important, every teacher should not be seen to be the same, part of the joy is sharing your individual skills with each other, learning from the feedback of students, refining your practice, developing confidence and building an awesome playlist that will engage your audience- your students! Jimi Hendrix did just that, he learned from others, he played with others, a blues lick and a riff here and there, and some unique methods of delivery (much of it experimental) and he developed his own sound. It’s what makes Hendrix uniquely different from Clapton and vice versa, both are masters of the guitar but have each developed their own unique style of playing. Unless it is a national or college wide initiative, attendance should be voluntary and that individual teachers should be allowed to choose a course they think will help inform and enthuse their professional development.

2) Cost effective in-House CPD

The most cost efficient way to help teachers refresh their knowledge and pedagogical practice is to encourage exchange of information and ideas between the teachers in their own school, and I very much enjoy sharing my latest experimental techniques with colleagues in meetings and TeachMeets. The best resource to access often are the individuals you work alongside and you and your colleagues are well placed to develop CPD opportunities that are directly applicable to the institution that you work in and to the students that you teach.

3) Teaching is Evidence and Practice-based: You must experiment with techniques!

One of the things I find most enjoyable is meeting colleagues from other schools and attending and delivering my own workshops. By showcasing and sharing the experimental techniques, talents, research-based and experience-based practice, teachers will remain in touch with different modes of delivery as well as advances in their field of expertise which can only help to raise overall the standards of the education system and the teaching profession to a higher level.

4) Online Resources

Teachers should take advantage of online materials and resources such as online courses, webinars, social media interactions and opportunities to collaborate, all of which are easily accessible and cost efficient methods of developing and sharing teaching practice. There has never been a better time to share resources and to connect and network with educators across the globe. Using social media as part of my ongoing CPD especially Twitter has allowed me learn from other inspiring educators and to globally share my ideas and practices.

5) Demonstrate a willingness to Learn and develop competence and confidence

Continuing professional development is important because it ensures that as educators we all continue to be competent in our profession. It is an ongoing process and continues throughout an educator’s career. Modelled behaviour is important and students look up to a confident educator that is always willing to learn and develop (sometimes through challenging circumstances), and that demonstrates professional growth. I have often with enthusiasm and excitement outlined to my class some of the recent CPD that I have attended and have outlined to the class new techniques and technologies that I will be experimenting with and will be trying out and I look for feedback from my students who are equally intrigued and interested to try thing out. Students certainly develop a more positive approach to learning when they see a confident enthusiastic teacher who is willing to learn and that takes an evidence and practice based approach in their practice.

6) It benefits everyone

Good quality CPD benefits everyone. A workshop facilitator develops their confidence in sharing teaching practice with others. Workshop attendees are enthused with new ideas to try out and may even be willing to deliver their own workshops. Students ultimately benefit from the cycle of good effective CPD and the standards of the profession are raised as a result. The impact of such CPD is demonstrated in the behaviours and attitudes of educators and students which eventually transfers to successful outcomes for all parties involved in the learning process. Engagement in CPD helps to promote key employability skills and encourages each generation of students to develop a lifelong learning approach within their careers.

Engaging in good quality CPD ensures we are ready to adapt to the ever growing changes within the education system and that also allows those in the profession to meet the increased demands. As we move into a new season, a new opportunity presents itself for us to do something new, to try something bold, something beautiful; something that ultimately assists you and that enriches the experience of students!

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