Continuing Professional Development
Have you had some good Continuing Professional Development (CPD) recently? What did it look like? What is the best form of CPD for you? I had the opportunity to rethink some ideas on CPD last week as I joined a group of teachers to visit schools in the state of Kansas, USA.
Teachers in the USA have to re-license every five years, and as part of this process they have to present evidence of professional development, which can include university courses or in-house professional development activities. Teachers told us that they have professional development periods built into their weekly timetable, when they can engage individually and in small groups with the school’s ongoing programme.
I was fortunate enough to join a group of teachers as they completed a ‘Learning Walk Bingo’. Teachers, armed with a grid like the one below, visited colleagues’ classrooms and recorded what they saw.
After a 20-minute learning walk, the teachers came back and had a professional conversation, sharing the strategies that they had observed, which were plentiful. This session came after some input which had focussed on some of the pedagogical strategies on the grid. I felt extremely privileged to be part of such focussed discussions about teaching and learning – the very essence of our professional interest.
There is a danger that, having identified something which seems impressive in its own context, one tries to import this idea into a different environment without understanding some of the background factors which contribute towards its success. With this in mind, what can we learn from this experience?
Amid all the hustle and bustle of a day at school, it is the activity that happens in a classroom with pupils that is at the heart of our business; the interaction between a teacher and a group of pupils that enables teaching and learning to take place, and that is the reason we are there. What forum do we have to talk about those particular episodes?
As teachers, we have skills and capacities which we do not always recognise and identify. What opportunities do we get to identify and explore our professional strengths and weaknesses?
Many of us have opportunities to attend a CPD event which can be memorable – we then need to translate the outcomes of the event into our own classroom practice if it is to have an impact on our pupils’ learning experiences. What opportunities do we have to make sense of the input we receive, and how do we share our new ways of thinking with our colleagues?
What does good CPD mean for you? Why not tell us about it?