Continuous Professional Development, or CPD as it is more commonly known, has one basic proposition: Improvement. The teacher has the option of either passively waiting for someone else (the employer) to committ resources to CPD, or the teacher takes the initiative and actively seeks out CPD opportunities.
One might take the position that if the employer wants the teacher to improve, then the employer will make the necessary resources available. The “resources” referred to are time, materials, and money.
The teacher would receive pay for the time they are investing in learning. Books, travel costs, and any fees would be paid for by the employer. However, to be honest, in Chile very few teachers find themselves in this utopian situation.
Of course, logically speaking, it follows that teachers who successfully complete CPD courses would be more valuable. Teachers who participate in CPD have more knowledge, more skills, and more abilities than those who don’t participate in CPD. Thus, no one would deny that successful efforts at improving teaching and learning should be rewarded.
Consequently, salary increases, bonuses even, would be paid to the teachers. Needless to say, the excellent results obtained by these teachers would justify the increased costs for the employer, in terms of time, materials and money. Therefore the investment in CPD would have produced measurable, quantifiable results, not to mention qualitative, if one considers the job satisfaction of teachers who are treated as professionals.
On the other hand, there is another type of teacher, one who believes it is not the employer who takes the initiative in CPD. Such a person feels it is the responsibility of the teacher to be active, to take the initiative, when it comes to CPD. This is a teacher who does not wait for the employer to provide CPD.
This teacher is constantly learning, in both formal and informal settings, without the employer having to pay for books, travel costs, course fees, etc. This teacher does not expect a reward for improving their teaching.
The reward they seek, if any at all, is qualitative. Their reward is the look in the child’s eye who has learned something new (thanks to the teachers new knowledge, skills and abilities), the smile on the mother’s face as she says to you how happy she is that “YOU”, are her child’s teacher this year…
Continuous Professional Development, in the end, is not about, “YOU”.
It’s about “THEM”, our students. They are the reason why we do what we do, CPD, for our students’ benefit.
If “WE” are true to our profession, then participating in CPD speaks loudly and clearly about “US” and our individual attitudes towards becoming the best possible teachers we can be.
It is not so much a question of whether we waited for the employer to provide CPD, or whether we approached CPD in an active manner. No, that can’t be the final question that matters.
The final question has always got to be:
“What have WE done for THEM?”
Participating in CPD is one way of saying WE are trying to become better teachers for THEM, better than we were last year, last month, last week.
Without CPD, we can not truly hope to be as great as our potential would allow US to become…
To conclude, CPD is essential for great teaching, and great learning.
As we have seen, CPD says something about us. It says loudly and clearly that WE teachers care about THEM, our students…
That’s all it is, CPD says WE care…
On March 9th, three members of my English Department and I participated in Edcamp Chile 2013. Edcamp Chile is high-quality, professional development, for teachers, by teachers. Teachers exchange knowledge and experiences with one another at an Edcamp, and all teachers can be presenters. It is the kind of CPD learning experience that I prefer: active, participative, & collaborative.
The great thing about an Edcamp is the cost. It cost neither my employer nor myself anything. It was absolutely, completely, totally…free.
When was the last time YOU participated in CPD?