For many teachers, finding a school that provides a strong and ongoing programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), is an important factor in their professional decision-making. Many schools have come to the realisation that to attract and retain excellent teachers in a globally competitive market, they must be willing to invest in and constantly up-skill their employees.
Not all CPD programmes however, are created equal, and while many schools believe they are providing what teachers desire, very few actually ask their employees directly.
As part of developing a teacher-focused school with clear policy and process that encourages a collaborative approach, I recently asked my teachers to each complete a sentence for me – ‘The best CPD is…’
Here are just some of their responses:
- The best CPD is relevant, current and key stage appropriate, giving practical resources to use in your classroom setting with a focus on active learning and progression for all children.
- The best CPD makes use of the skills and expertise of other professionals and gives proven successful teaching techniques, strategies and resources that can be applied to your own cohort and classroom. It allows teachers time for implementation, reflection, discussion and evaluation.
- The best CPD stems from the teacher’s own interests but meets the needs of the class, the school as a whole and of the ongoing development of wider individual and group needs. It is constantly reviewed and updated and can be easily implemented when the teacher returns to school. Above all, CPD should be purposeful.
- The best CPD should be focused and relevant to the teacher’s key area, it provides new and effective teaching and learning strategies to be used in the classroom and leads to a successful change in a teacher’s practice.
- The best CPD is where professionals in education maintain, enhance and evolve their skills and knowledge to foster the personal qualities and competencies required in their working lives. It is a process for setting objectives for development then charting your progress towards achieving them. It is about where you want to be, how you plan to get there and how upon reflection further advancements can e made. CPD should consist of a wide range of activities to benefit the individual but also to contribute to the progression that staff and children make inside and outside of the school environment. Effective CPD is a core element to strengthen Pedagogical understanding.
- The best CPD is practical. It allows time for people to try and tweak ideas and it is followed up with opportunities to put in place what was learnt and review this on a regular basis. It also is relevant/informative to the people participating, developing interests and knowledge as well as inspiring. It needs to also be current, focusing on what is important at the moment.
- The best CPD is meaningful, useful and relevant. It allows staff to record, review and reflect the learning then apply the knowledge to their classroom to aid children’s progression. It focuses on improving teaching and evaluates its impact on learning.
The key features of high quality CPD that came through in all the responses were that CPD should be:
- Focused on teaching and learning
- Cyclical and ongoing
- Supportive of both the individual teacher and the aims of the school
Finally, one of my teachers epitomised the ethos of collegiality and sharing that is so vital within high performing teams, with a simple statement:
‘I just wanted to add that I really enjoy CPD events that give me the opportunity to network with other teachers too. Learning from one another is one of the best forms of training!’
We are striving to be one of the British primary schools in Dubai, and our CPD programme ensures that all our teachers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to meet the standards of global advancements.