Unfortunately, in some institutions CPD is not perceived as continuing, professional or developmental. As trainers, coaches and CPD planners, I think it can help to look out for these common pitfalls and raise our game to overcome them:
- CPD as a one-off event with no implementation plan for follow-up.
This is the quickest way to ensure that nothing sticks and very little actually happens at all after the expensive (time and money) staff development day. For the development to continue, we need to focus on how we will help this happen across time through team meetings, review, coaching, appraisal, learning walks and resources. We need to create spaces for continued reflection and practical implementation.
- Sheep-dipping CPD where everyone attends the same session.
This is not so professional as it does not consider our differing contexts and entry points for the training. What is relevant for A level literature teachers may not be best suited to vocational tutors on catering or hair and beauty courses. Needs differ, so CPD has to respond to that and provide differentiated approaches and content. Even a generic training delivery on something like “Safeguarding” or the “Prevent” agenda can incorporate useful slots for application to our context and debate in curriculum teams. I can’t fail to see the irony in people talking about personalising learning and stretching our learners while providing generic, ‘one-size fits all’ CPD sessions. I think we know better and can definitely do more to raise our game here.
- CPD that gives no choices and implies that a group-based training session is the best way to develop people.
As a professional, I have knowledge, preferences and experiences of developmental activities. I want to be able to choose at least some of the CPD activities I do, to help me develop key areas of interest in a way that works for me. This may involve 1:1 coaching sessions or being part of a Supported Experiment cycle or attending a lecture or webinar or becoming part of a peer triangle for lesson study. When I have choice, I feel more engaged and involved from the outset and I am looking for applications to my work in a pro-active way.
- CPD that doesn’t develop people because it doesn’t create reflective space, expose you to new ideas or challenge your thinking.
Old hat, boring, predictable and dull are some of the criticisms I hear levelled at CPD sessions in some schools and colleges. As trainers, coaches and mentors, we need to be ready to bring current research and pedagogy into our CPD activities. We need to be reading, thinking, trying out and discussing ideas/approaches with others, so that we bring something into CPD work from the wider world. We need to embrace Twitter and adopt a few research portals. We need to link up with CPD staff in other colleges to share approaches for fostering reflection, so that our sessions are fresh, thought provoking and developmental for staff. We need to foster long-term conversations with teachers about the craft of teaching and what they are learning about learning. This would merit the title ‘Continuing Professional Development.’