Once upon a time……
CPD or PD was all about either inviting an educational expert into your school or about sending your staff to an event, a PD session, at which an educational expert would present. Your teachers would then, hopefully at the conclusion of the session, have new ideas, concepts or approaches which they had added to their teachers toolbox.
Since then improved teacher training, professional standards, etc. have helped to improve the general quality of teaching however this is based on an education system which itself has changed. By the time improvements were made, the needs which these improvements were meant to address, had changed. In addition the students we teach have changed, as has the world in which we teach, the technology we use to teach and the pace of change is not slowing. If anything it is quickening.
So the old style CPD session no longer delivers what is needed. The experts cannot keep ahead of changes. Too many CPD sessions involve teachers hunting for the single idea of note, which would save the session from falling into the category of being a waste of time. So where do we look to for the solution?
Could it be that teachers can no longer wait for the solutions, the professional development to come to them. Could it be that, now as things are changing so fast, that they need to go looking for their own solutions. But where do you look?
An article sent to me by a colleague suggested that one possible answer was twitter (http://www.teachprimary.com/learning_resources/view/use-twitter-to-improve-your-teaching). It provides access to people all over the world providing ideas and thoughts which can be quickly accessed and reviewed. It provides 24/7 access to CPD opportunities. In a tweet I recently read an educator agreed with the above stating he had learned more from teach meets and twitter than he had ever learned in traditional professional development sessions. I suspect we could add Google to this, as well as Facebook.
So why is this the case? I liken it to the concept of cloud funding; using the cloud, the Internet, to allow people to fund a idea or project. Using the cloud to deliver CPD gives us access to a wider volume of people with more varied experience and differing perceptions and conceptual models. The only issue is that the delivery model differs. It is not the passive approach of listening to a so called expert or doing activities in a training session. It is a personal activity. You decide on what and when. You explore the information available, disregarding that which you feel should be disregarded while exploring that which you feel is of value. It is interactive, inviting others to contribute, discuss and share. It is social as it involves groups of people albeit not sat in a room together. It is dynamic as the content, information and ideas available are always been supplemented, complemented, contrasted, evaluated and revised. At no point does it stop. But it relies on you to be motivated to get involved rather than waiting for the next PD session to come along, hoping that something good will be included.
So why have PD sessions? Maybe we should focus more on asking teachers: How are you developing yourself as a professional?