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Professional Learning

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Professional Learning An Article suggesting we need an enhanced approach to CPD - one we've already been offering to our pupils for many years.

He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger. Confucius

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Professional Development, Other Subject, Educators

Tags: CPD Personalised Learning Learning Styles
A Good Lunch
Nothing has promised so much and has been so frustratingly wasteful as thousands of workshops and conferences that led to no significant change in practice when teachers returned to the classrooms. Michael Fullan, 2000

I recently asked an audience of 70 educators if they'd ever been on a good course. Most raised their hands. I then asked if their practice had been significantly and lastingly improved because of the course. Two people raised their hands. Finally I asked if the course had provided one or more of: a good lunch, a chance to learn in a relaxed way, a chance to talk to colleagues from different schools and an opportunity to explore the local shops. Most hands back up.

I agree with Fullan, but we shouldn't devalue courses, conferences and workshops. We must use his findings to get greater value from them. Joyce and Showers (1996) point the way. They suggest that classroom practice is more likely to change when coaching and mentoring are used to embed ideas learned outside school.

Professional Learning Profile (PLP)
But is a good course combined with an effective coach right for every teacher? We've worked hard over the last 15 years to develop personalised learning for pupils. Have we applied the same principles to ourselves and to our continuing professional learning?

We build in task choice for pupils in class. What might ours be during training? Here are some options. How would you arrange them, and in what order and quantity, to suit your individual learning style:

  1. Research the theory
  2. Research the practice 
  3. Plan with a colleague
  4. Watch someone else
  5. Copy someone else
  6. Plan and self-reflect
  7. Coaching by a peer
  8. Coaching by an expert
  9. Realtime feedback (team teach)
  10. Realtime feedback (earpiece)
  11. Teach someone else
  12. Adapt original idea

For example, you may wish to reduce off-task behaviour at the start of your lessons and you are the type of learner who prefers a combination of 1, 2, 6 and 9: First you find out about pupil motivation and engagement, you then seek out effective practice, followed by trying out some ideas and self-evaluating. When you feel you've cracked it, you ask a colleague to come in and take a look. It could be less effective to make you watch someone else and insist on realtime coaching. This is not your preferred style.

How not If
The vast majority of folks with whom I work define themselves as learners as well as teachers. Whether they are going to learn and grow in their role is not an issue. How they are going to do it is. That's why it's important to build in CPD time to establish not only what needs to be learned, but how each individual can best learn it. This can even be extended by combining every profile into a school PLP. Although it won't play to any individual's exact preferences, an average profile will reveal the professional learning opportunities that are most likely to work with most people.

Hmm, maybe I should run a course on that....


Related Resources:

Coaching

KEY IDEAS ABOUT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Professional Self-Assessment

SSC Thinking

Tips for Professional Self-Assessment

Tips for Using Video for CPD

Using Video for Professional Development

What is Coaching?

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