Rethinking professional development

José Picardo

José Picardo is Assistant Principal in charge of Digital Strategy at Surbiton High School. He has taught languages for over ten years and regularly speaks at learning technologies and foreign languages themed conferences and training events, both nationally and internationally. In addition, José is behind Boxoftricks.net, an award-winning blog where he shares his passion for the use of new technologies to transform the way we teach and learn.

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The work of a teacher is both challenging and complex and requires high standards of professional competence and commitment. However, research shows that formal professional development may not be the optimum means by which such high standards of professional competence can be achieved. The principal reason for this is that traditional CPD tends to be based on one-off events that can often be a solitary activity and can seem remote from colleagues, students and classroom practice in general.

Many teachers have begun to diverge from only using traditional CPD provision and started to address their individual and collective professional learning needs – which can often be perceived as being different by management – effectively by seeking informal professional development opportunities. An alternative model of regular peer-to-peer professional learning meetings – sometimes referred to as TeachMeets or Show and Tell sessions – is beginning to emerge as a more successful, supportive and motivating way of sharing best teaching practice with the aim of improving overall teaching and learning. Such bottom-up professional learning is more likely to be followed up and to result in innovative practices that are successfully embedded and sustained.

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