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The Importance of Teacher Development and Professional Learning – Great teachers help create great pupils.

15 Nov 2020   |   Katie Hartshorne   |   Positive Regard TSA

Twenty-first-century learning requires sophisticated forms of teaching to develop student competencies, such as deep mastery of challenging content, critical thinking, complex problem-solving, effective communication and collaboration, and self-direction. In turn, effective continuous professional development is essential to help teachers learn and refine the pedagogies required to teach these skills. Anyone working within education, has an unwritten commitment to their own development.

People should be ‘active agents’ of their own personal growth.

Learning should be at the centre of who we are as education professionals. The learning never stops. If we are to be seen as role models for our pupils, should we not be continuing to learn ourselves? So, why is accessing good quality professional development so important?

‘An inspiring and informed teacher is the most important school related factor influencing student achievement’ (Easton, 2008 cited in Stoll et al 2012). In order for us to develop and flourish as individuals, to inspire our school communities, we need access to high quality professional learning that is relevant, bespoke to our needs, that is informative and empowering. This allows us as professionals to grow in confidence, self-esteem, be critical and have an opinion when asked to review or create new visions for our schools. It should be driven by the individual, from a place of desire to improve our practices to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.

Access to statutory CPD allows staff to keep up to date with current changes in educational policy, pedagogy and practices. It should meet the needs of the individual. It should attract and retain individuals within our Trust and create a feeling of support and value for our ‘people’. It should allow professional dialogue to be honest and open, to share knowledge, to network and meet colleagues, as well as widen and develop knowledge, skills and understanding from within. It should support our career progression, allowing all staff to access continuous professional and personal development opportunities.

However, research has noted that many professional development initiatives appear ineffective in supporting changes in teachers’ practices and student learning. How many of you can remember your last training experience, sat in a cold school hall with 20 colleagues, either after school or as part of a whole school inset day? What impact did that have on you, your practice, or your pupils, if any? Did you choose to go or not?

In my role as Trust teacher training and development lead, I recognise the challenges we all find ourselves in. Time, money,
finding the energy, juggling family responsibilities. Balancing those scales can be very hard. But spending some time to think about yourself and what you want to achieve can be a powerful thing. It can re-energise you. Provide a new focus, a new challenge, even a new change in your career! That can be life changing. Start with the end in mind and think about what you want to become. What will enhance your current role? I have recently had the opportunity to engage with several new webinars @Bowdeneducation, attend virtual mentor and coaching training sessions @youthsporttrust, meet new people and make new connections. Those opportunities have inspired me to write this article.

Positive Regard provides a plethora of opportunities for all our people, to support you in your chosen career path. We have a wide range of experts from across our Trust schools and so many are generous in giving their time to support and lead on our development programmes. Whether you are a member of the support staff or a principal, the opportunities to access good quality training and advice is there, from the apprenticeship programmes, aspirant teacher (routes into teacher training and gaining QTS), induction of newly qualified teachers, to level 1 and 2 leadership. Our opportunities are wide and varied. We do listen to the needs of the school system and this year we have launched an informal virtual mentor programme for our early career teachers (RQTs), together with the new subject leaders’ programme starting in January. Both are supported by our Expert Practitioners and Associate Principals. We have connections with many external partners from Universities, Colleges and training providers and can help support you in finding your next professional development opportunity. Get in touch and have a chat with one of the team.


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