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Developing people, developing schools

Can CPD change lives?

There are so many ways to answer this question, but here’s my first 3 minutes worth on the subject!

So we are talking about continuing professional development here. So let’s first ask ourselves what it actually means to develop professionally.

What is professional development for?

In part, it’s learning new teaching practices and techniques.

There are many people who will say this is exactly why they want to develop and that they buy wholeheartedly into the idea of Continuing Professional Development. They see the need to improve what they do in the classroom. They want new teaching ideas. They believe there is always room for improvement.

There will be other teachers out there, however, who think they have learned their job well already, that they are good teachers, that there isn’t anything else essential to learn about teaching practice, that CPD might be nice - if you only had enough time.

More than simply skills accomplishment

I don’t see professional development as simply learning the tricks of your trade. It is more than that. I work in Education because, to my mind - ‘learning’ - is one of the most important things in life.  It’s about staying relevant to your learners and connected to the ever-changing world.  I learned this valuable insight from a dear friend when he became a father for the first time.

For me, CPD is about inspiring others to learn. So as well as developing skills and knowledge to attain expertise, it’s also about attitude. To remain inspirational in education, whatever your role or position, you not only have to be knowledgeable and skilled, and passionate about your work, you also need to know your learners (whether those learners be students, fellow teachers, other colleagues, your family) – you need to know them really well - as individuals, with their different talents, needs and learning styles - And you need to stay connected to the world you are preparing them for. So there is always more you can learn.

Inspiring others to learn and practising what you preach

CPD should not be about deficit or failure or under-performance. It isn’t only for beginners and novices, or those that lack confidence in their work. CPD is about facilitating others to learn, helping them to achieve their potential, and develop the skills, and attitude, needed to be life long learners.

So, as a teacher, it’s about practicing what you preach; and leading by example, and all teachers are, by default, in leadership roles. So teachers - demonstrate you are a continual learner and be proud of it. Show that learning is a positive thing, that there isn’t a day when you reach a designated level of performance and thus stop.

You can do CPD in so many ways, even really simple ways. CPD is a way of living your professional life, not simply a training course you attend. There is always something new to learn that is relevant to your work, and relevant to your learners.  

If you are doing this, then you are doing CPD. And with the insight and energy this gives you, I strongly believe you will be changing not only your own life, but the lives of others as well.