Continuous Professional Development
Professional Development, sometimes referred to as Continued Profession Development (CPD), refers to how people develop their skills in their chosen profession. We all need to develop our skills either to keep ahead of changes or to advance within our career.
Continuous professional development is a process of applying the skills and knowledge you gain out of your work. It is different from the initial training process, it is what you experience and apply. At professional level CPD is a reflection process of what you learn out of your everyday tasks.
Development is different from training. Training is a much formal area used to enhance skills, while development is an informal way of involving progression from basic to advanced level of competencies and capabilities. Continuous professional development is self-directed, it forms a process to learn from your experience and develop goals for yourself. This approach is majorly informal but can be exercised formally as well.
The Importance of Continuous Professional Development
It is important to update your professional skills and knowledge time to time to keep an eye on your goals, set standards of achievements for yourself and people around you. The ultimate outcome is to save your career and achieve desired growth levels. Some of the reasons of importance of CPD in a person’s career are;
- It keeps you updated with the level of capabilities to ensure current standards are met.
- Continuous professional development stands out when you maintain and update the knowledge and skills in yourself to deliver professional service to your clients and customers.
- It becomes your responsibility to stay relevant and up to date with the new methods at work. Even technology and its use is a development and training based factor. Staying in touch with the ways of teaching and classroom material for instance is a better way to apply CPD individually.
- When you learn to move ahead, opportunities drive you towards betterment. Through CPD you can bring a better contribution to your team and help them, be their mentor, guide them to become more effective at workplace.
- Staying interested and focused is the new way of achieving continuous professional development.
- Appreciation in any form is a sign of improvement. Teachers should adopt CPD to gain understanding of professionalism at work.
- Among a large group of teachers, your skills will help you stand out. CPD gives you the confidence to continue prospering in your profession.
- To open up specialised work areas, CPD helps teachers identify and polish their potential. In future, they can become the new trainers or mentors for others.
Teachers go through a completely different set of areas of development. Their qualifications are different, how well they speak, their lecture delivery and years of practice plays an important role in their overall development. Consistency in skills and learning ability is the driving force of continuous professional development. For teachers, the process is carried out in 4 stages of development;
Stage 1: Awareness of the professional practice.
Stage 2: Understanding of the practice and reasons for its importance.
Stage 3: The level of participation and engagement from the teachers’ end.
Stage 4: Lastly, the competency of the teacher towards practice, how well the teacher handles CPD and keeps on informing upon the skills enhanced.
As we encourage our students to develop, so we must consider ourselves as well. It is best to have a clear objective in mind in order to choose the correct method to assist your development. Following are suggested methods of developing as a professional:
Attending conferences: as a professional development tool gaining knowledge from conferences, listening and presenting research results can itself provide benefit to an individual. It helps us in performing better, practicing communication skills, being a part of the academic network and participating in interactive sessions. It is a good learning experience where you find solutions to various situations, gather data on latest findings and theories, be motivated to work on your progress chart, etc. The requirements include preparing yourself for the topic of the conferences in advance, know about your research, step out of your comfort zone and prepare quality questions for the session.
Mentoring: this is a system of obtaining guidance from people who have knowledge and experience in your field. Mentoring is more than giving out and receiving advice, but empowering the other person and helping them come to the solution they need is called mentoring. To be a mentor you need to be patient and rewarding. Also, you must be the type of person who wants others to succeed in their lives.
Further training including qualifications: to accelerate your career and enhance your skills you need to get a professional qualification from a range of options available in every field. It is a good investment of time and money to get better returns in the future.
Networking with other professionals: building a network of qualified professionals and moving with them enhances your ability to interact with diverse group of people. You may want to seek out a mentor or look for a job. LinkedIn is one developed platform to meet your online connections. By making professional connections you can conveniently achieve your professional development goals.
Individual study (books & articles): apart from focusing on external development tools we must consider improving our individual study patterns. This not only includes general books whether in our course or our student’s course but also going through new researches, articles, blog posts and professional journals to widen our approach on learning and development.
Formal and informal assessment: continuous development and improvement involves detailed research activities and feedback to develop. Many informal assessment techniques incorporates professional reading, articles from the internet, experimenting on new strategies in the classroom, action research tools and projects and courses of advanced study. Changes from these approaches are not sudden, it may take time for the professional development to take place in some time but they are extremely valuable and productive internally.
However, formal assessment is a cycle of CPD which starts from observation, appraisal, diagnosis and development with clear links between them. The cycle focuses on improvements and better outcomes by assessing individual behaviours in a time frame.
Peer feedback: It is often achieved with peer observations. An instructor reviews and evaluates the performance of the teachers. It can be followed by a training and development/mentoring program to give a summative evaluation on the performance of the person under review. The feedback is mostly tied to promotion, training, or reappointment decisions.
Membership of professional bodies: professional bodies are organisations with individual professional members. These bodies are responsible for assessment of the work and to check if it is being done correctly or not. They also set professional examinations, publish journals and magazines, provide useful networks to these professionals, provide career support and job opportunities to graduates and people already working through efficient networking.
There is no defined code or process to carry out CPD for teachers but generally a teacher’s development might take a form of an identification of their strengths towards areas of competence, planning for achievements and targets in curriculum. Also, revising the curriculum time to time.
This isn’t a competition or hidden framework of strategies; team efforts and identification of colleagues who can help in the development process is highly appreciated. Classroom and personal development is the optimum target for these professionals, therefore communicating effectively with teachers and students is the key of continuous professional development. Regular reviews and periodic assessments are essential objectives we set for ourselves. Every 6 months or quarterly reviews are encouraged to develop this learning cycle.