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Professional Development: Needs for a new professional role

I must open this blog with an apology. In my last blog I promised that it was the first of a series of blogs about models-based practices but, as they say, something came up. I have lined up David Kirk, Ben Dyson and Peter Hastie to write a guest blog in this series but all are snowed under at present. It was my intention to write an introductory blog on MBP but then an email titled “Professional Development: Needs for a new professional role” hit my inbox. The contents were exciting and made me reconsider what I would write about this week. Why? Because the one voice that seemed to be missing from the discussion were those of teachers and I felt that I wanted to ‘blog’ about the ideas and see how school-based practitioners may feel about the suggestions. So here we go.

In a couple of weeks AIESEP (Association Internationale des Ecoles Supérieures d'Education Physique - International Association for Physical Education in Higher Education) will meet in Spain for its annual conference. One of the conference sessions will explore professional development through an interactive approach (i.e. AIESEP’s website) and will be chaired by Mary O’Sullivan with the help to two panel members: Tom Templin and Ruiz Ruan. What follows is an extract from Mary’s recent email:

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“The session is an attempt to use the internet (using AIESEP Website) to stimulate discussion with folks before the conference posing questions, opinions/commentary on the topic in the next several weeks.  I with the panel should summarise these points into some coherent fashion and put it back out of the AIESEP website and invite further commentary.

Let me start by suggesting that there is a new model of professional development required.  Governments in most countries have neither the priority for nor the money to invest in CPD in ways we might wish…and thus we need to develop a more coherent and sustainable model of CPD with teachers at the centre of this enterprise….

Teachers have both a right and a responsibility to engage in professional development…..”

Mary went on to offer a brief summary of AIESEP beliefs on and around CPD:

  • PE teachers have a right and responsibility to be engaged in effective CPD throughout their careers;
  • A key rationale for CPD is enhancing teacher and pupil learning
  • CPD is, fundamentally, about inspiring and sustaining teachers’ professional curiosity.
  • Meaningful CPD relies on shared commitment and collaboration between education stakeholders
  • Appropriate CPD can reduce teacher burn-out and attrition.

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The reason for this blog is to ask teachers how they feel about these beliefs about and around CPD. While I would be delighted to hear from physical education teachers I would equally wish to hear from other colleagues in primary, secondary and higher education. Any comments are welcomed and would ask you to pass the link to the blog on and encourage your colleagues and PLN to respond to the question:

How do we create a notion of professional development suited to our modern teaching profession?

Here area selection  of the comments from those involved in a recent discussion:

What forum might be most appropriate for engaging teachers in shared conversations about policy and practices of CPD? – Connie Collier

 What are the repercussions/consequences to physical education and ultimately children if this does not happen? - Melissa Parker

Who facilitates or who gets to facilitate CPD?  Is it solely a position (professor, government hired person) or a disposition (do these people have certain dispositions/beliefs about CPD and if so what are they)? - Melissa Parker

What professional development practices are powerful and sustainable enough to address the issues the confronted by teachers and also impact student learning? – Phillip Ward

Are teachers who engage in meaningful CPD in the minority? – Phillip Ward

Professional learning is no longer centrally about attending courses occasionally throughout a career - although traditional courses can, of course, be useful. Instead, professional learning starts with the day-to-day and continuous diagnosis of children's learning needs, and the professional learning required to meet those needs. In other words, CPD becomes driven from the pedagogical encounter at the centre of teaching/coaching; a day-by-day, lesson-by-lesson process. – Kathy Armour

I think it is crucial  that we recognise the varied school contexts in which physical education is taught. As part of our considerations we need to ensure that those classroom teachers responsible for teaching PE are provided with professional learning opportunities. I feel this is a complex issue to deal with as the learning needs of this group a unique given they are likely to have experienced less PE curriculum/pedagogy learning in their ITE programme, and once they are in schools they are responsible for remaining current across multiple curriculum areas, and also broader PD initiatives. - Kirsten Petrie 

When Ashley presented his work at BERA this autumn I found his notion of action research as a form of professional development both challenging and worth investigating. If we accept Ashley’s premise that action research might be a viable alternative for the more traditional CPD, then I believe we need to determine how to assist pre-service and practicing teachers to experience and value action research in ways that will encourage and assist them in becoming lifelong learners of their own professional development To achieve this we need to develop pedagogy of teacher education that is inclusive of this pursuit and systematically addresses it. – Deborah Tannehill

There likely is a need to place greater emphasis on educating prospective teachers what CPD is, why it is important, what forms it might take. If they don't know what it really is they won't know what to look for. I know that attending one's annual state conference is but a small example, but how important it is to get future teachers going on that front to the point that it becomes habit to take time to attend, participate, and present at that level. - Hans van der Mars

Advocacy: What do we really know about how we might get school administrators to pay more/better attention to what's going on on gym? Yes, in the US they are pressured to direct all resources to Reading and Math because of federal legislation. But there is a substantial body of evidence now on the link between PA/PE and academic achievement that should help us in the fight for weekly curricular time. But how do we get that message out? Someone has to go and connect with these folks.  . - Hans van der Mars

Policy: Perhaps in European countries more headway has been made in terms of influencing policy at the government levels, because of the greater involvement/influence that national governments have in those countries). In the US, PE as a field, is only now slowly recognizing the importance of the role of policy development/change. Slowly there are now mandates being passed for recess, number of minutes of PA and number of minutes of PE in various states. It likely is no different for bringing about increased opportunities for subject matter-specific CPD. . - Hans van der Mars

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On Tuesday 05 October at 12:44 Catriona Oates said
Hi Ashley, I've been following you on twitter for a wee while and I think we have lots of common areas of professional interest. In Scotland, the national CPD team is committed to building teacher capacity and working towards system-wide change through innovative CPD. Just to give you a taste of the work going on, which chimes with your question above on teacher ownership of CPD, here are a few links which may be of interest. Learning Rounds http://ltsblogs.org.uk/cpdteam/tag/learning-rounds/ is a very empowering form of teacher-owned , learning focussed(virtually free)CPD which can effect system -wide change within schools - keep watching the blog for more news , information and testimonies. In Scotland we are very fortunate to have a national intranet for schools, teachers, learners and parents ( and more) called Glow. As it is a closed secure system you can't get in to see without guest access. The national CPD team is making very innovative use of Glow through building on-line communities of practice, encouraging teachers to share, discuss challenge and exchange with each other in on line professional conversations. Thes CoPs are also supported by regular CPDmeets: video conferences which take place within Glow by practicioners , leaders , managers, guests - anyone who has something interesting or useful to share. They are recorded and made available online for folks who coudn't attend live. All of this is free CPD which can beplanned, recorded and reflected upon in the online PRD tool CPDReflect: http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/cpdreflect/ and it can hopefully provide evidence for discussion around the Professional Review and Development process. We have a national directory called CPDfind http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/cpdfind/index.asp where all these free opportunities are listed, along with many others(including paying ones )which can be entered by approved providers. So in answer to one of your questions above, I think there are lots of ways to help teachers move beyond the misapprehension that CPD=Courses, and I think that we are in a fairly good place here to support meaningful CPD which has teachers' professional learning at its heart and which really can help build teacher capacity. Happy to share any further information. Catriona
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On Tuesday 05 October at 18:00 Joey Feith said
I know I've mentioned this to Ash before, but I think the notion of creating a more engaging experience for Physical Educators is important when it comes to having those same teachers see the value of CPD. Being such a young teacher, I often try to think of ways to help other young teachers get into the habit of attending and participating in CPD events and using CPD resources. I think the social media boom has created forums for discussion and collaboration in ways that never existed before. I watch what other Physical Educators are saying on Twitter or writing on their Blogs. I "like" the Facebook pages of professional organizations in hopes of getting updates/ideas from them or finding opportunities for sharing. I watch the YouTube videos and leave comments or questions if they inspire me to do so. The thing with social media, as opposed to traditional media, is that instead of simply broadcasting information to its audience, it allows for an open, collective discussion in which new ideas are formed by its community. I know that, from my own experience, that type of discussion has been a much more engaging experience for me and has prompted me to want to continue having that type of discussion outside of the set days that traditional CPD events offer. I think that once we realize that instead of just focusing on broadcasting ideas and resources to teachers ("telling" them) and move towards engaging teachers ("asking"/"inviting" them), we'll find that many new teachers might start seeing the real value of CPD and start taking their own professional development in their own hands.
Vicky Goodyear
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On Wednesday 06 October at 22:45 Vicky Goodyear said
In reply to this blog I am writing from a teacher’s perspective, since I only recently (3 months ago) left the profession and from a practitioner-researcher perspective as I begin my PHD within the area of PESP. Whilst I was a physical education teacher I felt the CPD I was offered was not relevant to me nor was based around my professional development needs. Compulsory INSET sessions ran on different dates throughout the year and topics (plenaries, starters, questioning, lesson planning, AFL) were repeated year after year. Certainly this structure did not ‘inspire and sustain teachers’ curiosity’, it had the opposite effect with teachers beginning to refuse to attend certain sessions. Moreover, I felt this was the only form of CPD teachers were aware of. In my second year of teaching I engaged with practitioner research and made a pedagogical change to my teaching. I reflected lesson by lesson on my practice and listened to the thoughts and opinions of my students to understand how my teaching and learning environment could be improved. This I felt was the best form of CPD I engaged with (supporting Ash’s previous statement from one of his blogs), I began to understand in more detail my learners needs and wants. Moreover, I learnt things about myself and how I behave as a teacher that I was not aware of. Extending on from this I agree with Kathy Armour that CPD should be a lesson-lesson process and support Ashley’s thoughts that action research is a tool for this. I feel the 4th year action research project at UOB is a good method to guide teachers on how they can reflect and improve their teaching practice I agree with the previous comment (Joey Feith) that social media (Facebook, blogs, Twitter) is a good method for developing CPD. Not only does it offer some practical solutions (travel, time) but many of the teachers I know are all on sites such as Twitter and Facebook already, highlighting the accessibility and engagement with such sites. I feel social media as a form of CPD is a method to be further explored, which is something I hope to encounter upon as part of my doctoral study. I believe universities are the driving forces for developments in education. In a discussion with a physical education teacher this week, she expressed her concerns for those schools not connected to a university, schools she described as those who don’t have BA QTS or PGCE students. She felt this had a negative impact on physical education in particular reference to the application of the tactical games model to lessons, since teachers had not developed their knowledge and were often those schools unaware of model-based practice. In summary, based on my discussions with physical education teachers this week, the teachers I spoke with all agree with Mary’s beliefs around CPD. However, they raised their concerns over; a) time to access CPD b) the additional workload for action-research (that they perceive) c) if all teachers would use social media (blogs), particularly those who do not feel confident with ICT d) if teachers feel confident using social media and putting their ideas across for everyone to see. I personally believe action research, practitioner-research and social media is the way forward for CPD in physical education.

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