Twitter, teachmeet, PLNs, online support & courses, the unconference. These are the models of CPD that are increasingly striking a chord with our profession. And there is a significant difference to what has gone before.
The title of this post could have been ‘ Teachers are doing it for themselves’ if it didn’t sound so cheesy! But that is, in a nutshell, what is happening. No longer is the model a top down one, no longer is professional development about being sent on a course to be lectured to by someone who hasn’t been in the presence of children for some time. Today’s preferred model is about practitioners sharing what they do, what works, what they’ve wrestled with to make work, the journey they’ve taken and the success they’ve enjoyed.
Professional development is lateral, not hierarchical. It comes not from those who talk the talk, but those who walk the walk. Those who work with learners have credibility and fellow practitioners find this common ground and connection relevant and hugely important.
As a Headteacher I am conscious of asking staff to engage in any meaningful professional development at the end of a day’s teaching and carefully assess whether this is going to be productive or not. I have heard at different courses and on many occasions, the line ‘I was told I had to attend’ or something similar – the impact for such teachers and their schools will in such an instance, be questionable, minimal at best. How refreshing then that so many staff willingly attend teachmeets after school of their own accord. These people are driven, they are the heart and soul of education, full of enthusiasm, open to sharing and new ideas. Commited to their craft and open to any opportunity to improve their practice for the benefit of those we serve. Many also will spend evenings engaging in professional dialogue with colleagues and educators from around the globe via the net and social networks such as twitter. Getting involved in conversations through twitter communities such as #edchat, #ukedchat, #cpchat, #elemchat and many others ensures there is always healthy debate amongst peers the world over. Developing of personal learning network (PLN) by following likeminded thinkers on twitter is one of the surest ways of keeping abreast of current thinking, staying in touch with educators far and wide and connecting your pratice to that of others. Reading people’s blogs, joining their conversations, that’s bespoke CPD at its best.
This grasping of the mantle, this seizing of the reigns of professional development has put the model back where it belongs, in the hands of the practitioners. We are entering a new era of CPD, it is no longer being done to us but with us and by us. The future is exciting!