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Does Continued Professional Development do anything?

I am just reading up about continued professional development (CPD) and it simply doesn't seem to achieve anything of note. Of course I am talking in general terms but the research I am reading is certainly worrying. My own CPD, well at least until I started my personal higher degree acquisition programme, was simple. Normally it was a governing body award in a sport (i.e. Rugby Level 2, Hockey Level 1) or a qualification (i.e. bronze lifeguard or emergency first aid in the workplace) or occasionally it was a course that the school wanted me to do for my professional advancement (managing from the middle or leadership in physical education). With the exception of the 'doing things' qualifications such as being a first aider these were one day courses that never needed redoing and which stayed on my every increasing CV. Yet they were everything that they shouldn't really have been and very little of what they might have been.

  • They were fun (which isn't a bad thing but I now feel it might have skewed by end-of-course evaluation which was judged predominantly on my satisfaction)
  • They were one day and one-off courses with no follow-up
  • The impact on teaching and learning in my classroom or department were never checked or monitored
  • The impact on my long-term behaviour as a teacher was miniscule (and this was certainly never checked)

Since then I have engaged in a handful of what I consider highly ineffectual courses (not because of what I learnt but because of what I have forgotten as a result of their solitary impact in my very busy working life) and two highly effectual and satisfying courses. These two combined to last over 2000 days and were regularly followed up, they had a huge impact on the teaching and learning in my classroom and their impact on my behaviour as a teacher was so huge that it is hard to quantify at this time as I am still enjoying the results. The CPD I am talking about is action research.

CPD as action research allowed me, in the words of Kemmis (2009), to change my practice as a practitioner, understand my practice, and explore and appreciate the conditions in which I work. It was an opportunity to become aware of the potential benefits of educational research findings and it stimulated reflection and professionalism on my part rather than simply teaching me another way of doing the same again and again. I was not conscious of the ways in which I constructed my personal and practice knowledge about and around teaching before I engaged in action research. It was only through sustained and supported research that I can to fully appreciate what it was that I did as a teacher only to find out that I wanted to change what I did. However, action research was there to support me during the change for it allowed me to understand the long term behavioural and pedagogical changes that I was enacting.

Comments From Previous Blog...

On 13 July 2010 05:48 pdhpecovenant said...
Very interesting post. I'm now toying with the idea of introducing a PD follow up form for my staff to complete after going to a PD Course that will ask them to identify techniques or ideas from the course that they could introduce to their teaching and then following it up a further 2-3 months down the track to see if they've actually implemented it or forgotten it. I was wondering if you've seen anything like this before or have something like this that I could look at or ideas to include on one I create?

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