Session 177: How do your develop your teaching practice best; informally or formally?

-Date: Thursday 14th November 2013.

Host: @ICTmagic & @UKEdChat

Title: How do your develop your teaching practice best; informally or formally?


With school budgets squeezed; local authority training all but extinct; and more duty on individuals, this session explored how educators best gain their professional development, whether formally or informally.

In general, the consensus was mainly in favour of development through informal means, working in small groups, informal chats, quick conversations in the corridor, twitter and reading online blogs. One contributor even felt that formal meetings always seem more like a test, with the formality of clipboards and stern faces also viewed as one of the worst forms of teacher development. Formal development can usually address issues which affect the whole school, rather than focus on the development needs of the individual teacher – possibly received in ‘lowest common denominator’ form – after that you are on your own! One concern highlighted that many consultants and advisors in education are too vacuous, not offering real experiences from real classrooms, promoting strategies that can be out of date.

One of the main challenges still appears to be getting colleagues to use online resources as a means of their own professional development as many think twitter etc hold a geeky image, and breaking down this barrier remains a difficult incitement. However, by engaging with an online PLN (Personal Learning Network) it is easier to find out what is having an impact elsewhere, giving the individual time to consider if it will improve local practice then implementing the idea within your own school to see if it works.

Many contributors agreed that the best Professional Development is when you come away sparked with resources and ideas which you can use in your next lesson, and are enthused to give it a go.

With more obligation falling on the individual teacher to provide and identify their own professional development, it was felt that self-reflection, supported by peers and broader discussions/feedback, are becoming more important. A self-imposed drive of personal need and curiosity – not imposed by principles – sometimes, professional development should be about what the teacher is interested in, and not being told what to do.

There are more opportunities for autonomy and informal professional development in modern education, but the key is to foster access at the same time identifying needs according to individual priority. There are so many ideas available as well as opportunities to self-improve academically, such as working towards a Masters qualification, although this does take time, commitment and dedication, however can support long engagement, strong teaching, and a supportive network of colleagues all working towards the same goal. A mix of theory and pedagogy work towards being the most effective professional development for teachers, being the foundation upon which to build. If teachers do not make take to stop and reflect, then how can we encourage pupils to do so – lead by example.

At the end of the day, it is all about time. Individual teachers needs to make and find time for their development. Sounds easy!

Shared Links:

Shared by Dan Williams – read my post about some of the worst CPD here:

Shared by John Mitchell – Used this as part of a PM target then had an AST observe and advise. Great CPD. Learning Reporters

Notable Tweets from the Session:

  • Via Thomas Day – #ukedchat Always find informal chats and drop ins are the best way.  Quick conversations in the corridor or online give more ideas.
  • Via @DanDan7171 – I think most of my development comes via twitter,  #ukedchat
  • Via @cherrylkd – I develop mine informally. Chatting with colleagues, reading blogs & articles and through twitter.  #ukedchat
  • Via Michelle Mackay – #ukedchat twitter for me. Also informal chats. Formal meetings always seem more like a test!
  • Via @DanDan7171 – Clipboards and stern faces with lack of conversation and one view is worst form of development  #ukedchat
  • Via StephenConnor7 – there are lots of good blogs from both primary & secondary that I’ve been able to learn from and take into the classroom #ukedchat
  • Via @DanDan7171 – We gain a wealth of ideas via twitter, but out of 9 only 3 of us use twitter, think it is due to geeky image…#ukedchat
  • Via Angela Thresh – #ukedchat Bit of both… informal is snappy & relevant at that time, formal can be better for whole school issues
  • Via Michael Tidd – My experience is that most formal CPD is of the ‘lowest common denominator’ form. After that, you’re on your own. #ukedchat
  • Via Debbie Cook – talking with colleagues the best. Ones you can be honest with and not have them running to smt! Often see things differently
  • Via Michael Tidd – I found the GTCE/QCA shared conferencing about the abandoned NC was useful, but that’s as close as I got to decent formal events
  • Via James Matthews – Peer obs of colleagues, internal moderation, internal cross-phase teaching of your specialist subject…
  • Via Thomas Day – Kind of sums up that training is best done together in small groups.  A chance to talk and think and discuss.
  • Via SHC – best CPD is resource CPD coming away with a resource you can use in your next lesson!
  • Via Sarah Lewsey – Both. A bit cyclic? Informally build passion & engagement. Follow up formally with sharing good practice. And repeat? #ukedchat
  • Via Deborah White – Best cpd happens as close to the classroom as possible – TLC’s are a fantastic way to achieve this. #ukedchat
  • Via @DanDan7171 – I want to develop peer mentoring with no tick boxes, but fantastic learning, Japanese have apparently used idea for 100s of years  #ukedchat
  • Via Mrs French – best cpd is when you can go away with something new to try in your classroom #ukedchat
  • Via Chris Chivers – Self-reflection, supported by peer & broader discussion, developed by peer obs & coaching feedback. Reading. #ukedchat
  • Via Jonathan Peel – best cpd is driven by personal need and curiosity not imposed by dogma – i will be attending LAB14 and again be enthused
  • Via Mister Collard – twitter CPD found by myself has far more impact than CPD provided locally. Not much out there that is creative. Admin yes!
  • Via Jonathan Peel – I am also trying to start a triad system of peer support but finding time at such a premium – cpd and support should not threaten
  • Via Thomas Day – Shame schools can’t let two teachers go on same training session.  Be more effective as someone to talk to after. #ukedchat
  • Via Carl Pattison – A simple approach: Find out what is having an impact elsewhere. Will it improve what you do? If so give it a go. #ukedchat
  • Via Jonathan Peel – most of my new ideas have been generated on here or in the short teaching tip slot in our weekly briefing – not whole staff inset
  • Via John Mitchell – Informal + Collaboration + easy to implement + high impact + engaging ideas = great CPD #ukedchat
  • Via Fiona Luna – of course they should, sometimes CPD should be about what the teacher is interested in not what told to do #ukedchat
  • Via Miriam Alhashmi – There’s more opportunities for autonomy & informal CPD nowadays. The key is: foster access+ identify needs according to priority #ukedchat
  • Via Mrs French – We have grp of teachers planning & leading sessions for next AFL inset. Staff prefer from classroom teachers rather than SLT #ukedchat
  • Via John Mitchell – With cuts in CPD budgets – informally is the way to go. Must take responsibility for own CPD. There are so many ideas out there #ukedchat
  • Via Thomas Day – Anyone done a kind of speed dating cpd. Where you have 5 mins with each colleague to discuss problem / idea?  #thinkingofideas
  • Via John Mitchell – We even involved students in the process. Great way of adding student voice. #ukedchat
  • Via Deborah White – Actually – some if my best CPD ever was my masters – long engagement, strong teaching, great rapport with new colleagues
  • Via Miss Smith – By experimenting and reflecting at all times. By talking to colleagues, reading new things and seeking out CPD that interests me.
  • Via Mark McCourt – Trouble with many consultants/advisors today is they are so vacuous. Whatever happened to teaching being an intellectual pursuit?
  • Via Miriam Alhashmi – Self-Reflection is the most effective sustainable informal CPD. Coaching can help you develop this habit and it’s a lifelong gift! #ukedchat
  • Via Deborah White – Training is surely best delivered by teachers who still teach or strong researchers – ex- practitioners can be out of date
  • Via Mike Lane – Who trains the trainer? Who defines ‘excellence’? Who/what is the best CPD #ukedchat
  • Via Mr Dunford – Best CPD I’ve had has always been from colleagues sharing practice in short sessions. Practical ideas used in their lessons daily #ukedchat
  • Via Nicola Darling – Sure this has been said but after discovering twitter this past year and a bit, informally is how I have gained the most CPD! #ukedchat
  • Via The EAL Academy – Effective CPD includes aspects of theory & pedagogy- it’s the foundation upon which 2 build. We need 3 know what AND why.
  • Via UKEdChat – It’s all about time. Making and finding time for your own development #ukedchat
  • Via Debbie Cook – If we don’t make time to reflect then how can we encourage our pupils to do so? Leading by example.

Archive session 177

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About @ICTmagic 780 Articles
Martin Burrett is the editor of our popular UKEdMagazine, along with curating resources in the ICTMagic section, and free resources for teachers on UKEd.Directory

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