The way that teachers ‘do’ professional development has probably changed more over the last 5 years than in the last 100. The notion of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is key to allowing teachers to evolve their practice within the classroom and develop new strategies to support their learners. Teaching was once seen as a profession you trained for, but once you trained your skills did not need updating; the training college had equipped you with everything you needed to succeed. This notion has long disappeared and been replaced with the idea that teachers need to constantly adapt and evolve their practices in order to deliver the best for their learners.
The willingness and ability to engage in CPD is therefore not a by-product of a teacher’s professional identity, but a core component.
CPD has changed, so let’s look at the genres of CPD, and for a bit of fun, add a backstory comparing these with popular music fashions. So what options for you as a teacher for CPD in this new landscape?
LOCAL AUTHORITY DISCO
You used to get training and PD from your local authority. This was like going to a disco.
The music was accessible and easy to sing along to, without being too challenging. The atmosphere was friendly and everybody knew the words to the popuar songs. The clothes were a bit naff but nobody minded. As Sister Sledge would have sung ‘V A K are family!’ But the discos are mostly closed down now owing to cuts at local authority level or your school becoming an academy. But devotees of this genre may be able to console themselves at Gove’s newly invented ‘teaching school disco’ where you can bop along to the latest easy-listening tunes direct from the chalk face and with direct practical application,
THE UNIVERSITY PROG ROCK BAND
Of course you can go and do a course (an MA or MEd) at a university. The university is like a prog rock band. Musicality and intellectualism feature high on the list, as does hard work and dedication to producing an immaculate end result.
You have to be able to play your instruments and getting into this genre takes time and dedication. You have to learn lots of new terms as well and the personnel in the bands are really important (Emerson et. al 1973). You may get impatient about whether all this careful theory and reviewing of ‘the literature’ is going to actually give you any real ideas to try in your classroom, but questioning this is bad form, a bit like asking why there is a 22 minute mandolin solo on the second LP of the triple album ‘the canticles of Nebandesser the 3rd’.
TWITTER – PUNK
If you find the university route just too tortuous, then you can always try punk. You don’t have to shave your head or spit on people though. Simply open a twitter account, follow some fellow teachers and plunge right in, there are no entry requirements. Like PUNK nobody will question your technical ability, the emphasis will be all on end result, and getting immediate results. And it all happens quickly too, just like punk songs were short and sharp, the development you get from twitter is short and to the point. Nobody has to give you permission to get started with CPD on twitter, you don’t need to check with your HOD or head teacher, getting set up is easy and once started you can start strumming along with the best of them. Many of the tunes may sound the same, even get repetitive, but you’ll be in charge.
TEACHMEET – THE RAVE
Finally you could go to a teachmeet. This is a great opportunity to meet other teachers. Beware as you will certainly be offered free ‘Es’ at one of these events (free E-learning tools that is).
The atmosphere will be one of mutual respect, even love and teachers will be sharing their best tips for success and you won’t want the party to end. Just like the illegal raves which were the inspiration for TeachMeets, you have to be ‘in the know’ to find out where they are. Secret instructions will appear on a web page about when and where the next event is. Be careful when you make your way to these events, you may find representatives of Gove or Wilshaw following in their cars and trying to find out where the meeting is and breaking it up before anyone has any real fun.
So there you go, a quick whizz round the genres of CPD. Choose yours carefully…
Massive thanks for @drrebekkakill for her ideas about social networks and music genres, her work on this is available here (http://bit.ly/OM1UiF). Without her originality of thought and imagination this post would not have happened.
This blog originated as a teachmeet presentation to a largely bemused audience at the IFIP conference July 2012 at Manchester Metropolitan University.
If you read any of this and got offended ( because perhaps you work/used to work in an LA or university), then apologies, but you did understand I was joking I hope. (Although I do know of one LA at least that regularly used to teach VAK (visual, audio and Kineasethiwhatever learning styles to teachers).