Continuing Professional Development, or CPD, is critical to school improvement. And even though this might seem obvious to a lot of people, there are plenty who don't believe in CPD. Who really don't like taking part in it. And if they do, it’s only because they have to.
Essentially, CPD is about improving what you do on a day-to-day basis. It's about finding a way to get better at what you do, which for me is just everything. Because as I've mentioned previously, Marell Consulting Limited is all about supporting school leaders to do what they do exceptionally well and helping them become consistently better.
Improving the Individual Improves the School
So, how can you get exceptionally good at something or do something consistently better if you are not actively trying to improve it?
It's about evaluating what you do, and finding ways of doing it better next time.
But the only way you can find ways of doing something better next time is if you have more knowledge than you did before. If you develop more skills than you had before. If you gain more experience than you had before. And CPD is perfect for doing this.
As a whole school, we might look at systems and evaluate what the school does as a whole and find ways of improving it.
Therein lies the rub: finding ways of improving it.
How do we find these ways if we are the same people today as we were yesterday? We need to be in a different place in order to find different solutions. To improve the school, first we must improve the individuals within it.
What Counts as Continuing Professional Development?
So, how do we go about gaining more knowledge, improving our skills, getting more experience?
I mean, we talk to pupils about reading all the time. Of course we do. We want them to develop this skill. But do we read? Do we as educators take the time to read? Do we carry out research? Action research?
Let's say, for example, that you are struggling with something specific in your classroom. Do you look for texts that cover that area and find out how you can do it better? Do you look for websites, like the Education Endowment Foundation that runs a bunch of research projects to help improve the way we deliver education? Do we carry out research? Do we sign up for courses? And by this I mean gaining actual qualifications to do what we are doing better. Do we attend training workshops? More specifically, CPD workshops like the kind that we offer, to improve what we are already doing, or to gain the skills to do other things that we are not yet able to do.
How can you improve what you're doing if you don't improve your knowledge?
CPD is really important. There’s no two ways about it. In order to affect school improvement at a macro level, you have to begin at a micro level. Thus, if you improve the individual, the whole school benefits.
Experience at What Cost?
Many people, the sort who say CPD is not for them, tend to say that experience is the best teacher.
And, to an extent I agree. Experience is the best teacher.
But that statement needs to be qualified.
And, to an extent, I agree. Experience is the best teacher.
For example, if what you're doing in the beginning is the right thing, and you do it over and over and over again, then brilliant. You're going to become excellent at doing amazing work.
However, what if what you're doing in the beginning isn’t exactly all that great? Then doing that over and over again, is no longer such a good idea, is it? You’re just ingraining bad practice. Becoming excellent at being ineffective. And that’s not a position any school wants to find themselves in.
Therefore, becoming a great teacher is not just about experience. We should either start from a place of excellence, and continue to refine and hone our delivery, or we should be open to learning. Ideally, as we demand of our students, we should always be open to learning. Great teachers never lose their thirst for knowledge and joy of learning.
Simply put, if you try something today and it doesn't work as well as expected, be open to finding out how you can do it better next time. Don’t settle for less.
Ultimately, to improve your delivery, you must improve yourself. And that means looking beyond the day-to-day.
Professional AND Personal Development
I am a great believer in the transformative power of good CPD. It is essential for all individuals in education, not just school leaders. And everyone should look at it in a different light and see how it contributes to the improvement of the whole school.
Although CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development, we also need to look at CPD as Continuing Personal Development.
We might become adept at delivering the technical parts of our jobs. We might become outstanding professionals. But if we are not good as people, we will not be successful either.
You might be the most brilliant scientist, but if you don't know how to talk to people, you will struggle to get the job done. You might be an excellent school leader who's qualified at the highest levels, but if you don't know how to manage change, how to value your staff, how to interact with human beings, the staff, students and school as a whole will suffer.
The professional and the personal go hand-in-hand.
Develop them both and your school will experience significant and exponential improvement.
Want to talk about your schools Continuing Professional Development, simply contact us today.