For me, CPD is a hobby.
I came across an interesting tweet today
I know the post was set up to spark debate (thank you @debatED), but I was surprised by the percentage that selected ‘disagree’ in the poll. But I am of course biased, because for me, CPD is a hobby, so I don’t care when it happens. I find it practically impossible to not want to immerse myself with all things discussed about education, even from those whose opinions I don’t necessarily agree with. I want to be up to date, I want to learn new things from outside perspectives, I want to grow as an educator at every turn. That’s why I’m on twitter, that’s why I have a blog, and that’s why I look forward to CPD at my college. I’m not sure if it’s a sad state of affairs to do little else than think, eat, sleep education, but that’s what I love to do. Don’t get me wrong, I am acutely aware of the need to have work-life balance, with family time coming first, then exercise, and music. But after that, give me education, give me jamming ideas about lessons, give me research into learning. I can happily talk to anyone at any time about teaching and learning, and if I’m doing it with an equally passionate individual and we’re in a pub, then I’m in heaven. Oh, I think I just realised why I’m single.
I totally understand teachers’ frustration at having to attend poor CPD, and forgive them their disillusionment having perhaps been scarred previously, but I wonder if Tom Sherrington’s observation that team culture is not necessarily ‘king’ rings true in some circles, with a negative attitude to development prevailing regardless of the quality of what’s on offer. Even if I attend CPD that is not so great (and of course like us all, I’ve been to quite a few), I still try to get something out of what’s being delivered, as I evaluate/refine/confirm my own position on the topic. I’ve also learnt that there are often two choices after a bad CPD session: carry on as normal, or communicate suggestions for improvement to those setting up the CPD. Nine times out of ten this latter approach is successful, as the CPD manager is usually exceptionally grateful for feedback, and quite frankly, more than glad to not be seen as the enemy of the state prior to CPD day. And instead of suffering the collective negative vibe emanating from staff on the day, they get the chance to facilitate CPD days that teachers find relevant and useful. After all, it would be the greatest of ironies if the CPD manager refused to listen to the needs of teachers.
For me, CPD is a chance to grow, for me to become a better teacher, and for me to enjoy a hobby of mine. So if I know it’s not going to impinge on my family, weekend CPD? – bring it on!
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