To me it is essential to keep things new and fresh in the classroom and equally important, in my career path.
I have been teaching now since 1996 and have tried to develop throughout my teaching career in various ways. This has been quite formal in the form of recognised certificates. I first completed a CELTA in and then went on to a Trinity Diploma and then Masters in TESOL. These qualifications have challenged me and provided me with stimulus and ideas to ensure I am continually developing. I’ll now try to comment on what I am offered by my organisation and what I do at the moment to allow for CPD.
In the organisation I work for we are required to seek opportunities to develop and there is a formal process and system to ensure this happens. INSETT is provided throughout the year and often this is compulsory. The main conduits for provision of INSETT at organisation I work for are ‘input sessions’ or ‘seminars’. We have a system where teachers are contractually obliged to attend 3 ‘INSETTs’ per term. INSETT is commonly led by a coordinator or senior teacher. Sessions are varied and driven by questionnaires sent out at the start of term to survey the needs of teachers. The sessions are also designed to span the three different age groups of our learners. This is good as it allows teachers to have a say in which areas they would like to focus on. On the whole the sessions are effective and provide management with an easy way of providing teachers with development. Sessions are often repeated which allows teachers to choose convenient times that fit within their schedules. I have benefitted greatly from input sessions as usually what happens is an opportunity to share ideas and listen to different ways of thinking. I have never left an input session without gaining something from it.
Another compulsory development tool is the formal observation of classes by line managers. This is done twice a year. The first observation is meant to be diagnostic and designed to analyse the teacher’s strengths and weaknesses. The data is then used as a driver for development. The second observation is evaluative and is there to provide evidence that the teacher has developed and acted upon the data gleaned from the diagnostic observation. I personally feel this form of INSETT is rather utopian and is not fair. Teacher’s have good and bad days as do students and to point out weaknesses on one formal observation is not effective. I think there is a place for formal observation but it shouldn’t be the only tool we implement for developmental needs. We need to triangulate this form of INSETT with discussion and other diagnostic tools such as self evaluation, student surveys and such like in order for it to be really effective and a valid instrument for development.
Learning and Development Portfolios
I like the fact that we have Learning and Development Portfolios. This tool keeps a record of development and motivates me to add to it. We are required to come up with ideas of development goals throughout the year and record what we have done to achieve this. I normally have 3 to 4 goals for each year. In the past I have had goals such as the following (not exhaustive).
· Become a coordinator
· Complete a Diploma
· Complete a Masters
· Deliver a workshop
· Develop a curriculum
· Pilot a coursebook
· Write materials
· Peer Observation
· Write a teaching journal
· Conduct classroom based research
· Deliver a talk at a conference
All of the above have really forced me to evaluate myself and reflect on all aspects of my job. They have taken time but for me it’s time well spent. I like the idea of being obliged to formally record learning goals as it also ensures a good blend of development and ensures that the focus is not biased on one specific area.
One of my goals for this year is to write a blog entry every two months. What I am doing now is contributing to my development.