This is a summary of the #eltchat which took place at 12 noon BST on Wednesday 2nd May, 2012. The full title of the chat was:
The chat was lively and thought-provoking as usual and was expertly moderated by @Marisa_C and @rliberni.
What is CPD?
Continuous or continuing professional development.
What is a ‘dinosaur’?
For the purposes of this chat, we were using the term ‘dinosaur’ to mean those ‘difficult’ colleagues who resist any kind of CPD; the kind of person who asks these questions:
- Am I getting paid for it?
- What do I get out of it?
- Are you telling me I have to do this?
- I’ve been doing this for years – what is there to learn?
The dinosaur is recognisable by his or her:
- reluctance to embrace new ideas, especially if they are proposed by colleagues who are younger and less experienced than they are.
- pity for colleagues who care about their CPD (‘Why bother?’ ‘Why are you papering your walls with certificates?’).
- lack of passion for teaching.
- fear of anything beyond their comfort zone.
- ‘know-it-all’ attitude or, alternatively, ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude.
- conviction that technology (or anything new!) has nothing to add and is just a load of hype.
- blinkers and earplugs! (This was my somewhat flippant remark, but it seemed to resonate with several of
the #eltchatters and prompted @Marisa_C to ask if anyone could draw this ‘dinosaur’ we were all describing! Unfortunately, at the time of writing, I have seen no such artwork!)
Perhaps we shouldn’t be so hard on such people, though. As @teflerinha said, ‘dinosaurs’ are often quite insecure and fearful of being found out, of being exposed as not being good enough. Their prejudice against CPD is probably based on their fear of stepping into the unknown. Alternatively, as @reasons4 suggested, their attitude may stem from years of being chronically underpaid, stupidly overworked and neglected.
Other colleagues who are reluctant to embrace CPD may not be ‘dinosaurs’ at all. They may, as @JoshSRound said, simply see teaching as the day job and have no interest whatsoever in developing their skills.
Why should we care if colleagues embrace CPD?
What’s the point in teachers being forced to attend CPD sessions if they’re not engaged? There are interested teachers and those who are there because they have to be. Why don’t we just concentrate on those teachers who want to develop and leave the ‘dinosaurs’ to their own devices?
The consensus in answer to these questions seemed to be that we want to work for professional institutions that implement good, effective CPD programmes. We don’t want to work in organisations that tolerate lazy practitioners persisting with fossilized teaching methods. CPD prevents burnout and motivates teachers. You can’t teach if you don’t learn!!
How do we encourage ‘dinosaurs’ to take part in CPD?
- @teflerinha tells us to use the carrot rather than the stick. She believes that the key is in understanding their fear and then helping them to see CPD as a perk, not a pain – something that they can get out of the job that will improve the quality of their working life. All teachers need to feel valued.
- @timjulian60 thinks schools need to have a written internal agreement that states explicitly that teachers are expected to take PD seriously.
- Make it part of the contract. @harrisonmike gave us the example of UK FE contracts which oblige full-time teachers to do 30 hours of CPD in each academic year. @cioccas told us of a similar scheme operating in Australia (36 hours a year).
- Where CPD is NOT a requirement, it should be promoted by management.
- Make CPD sessions relevant and interesting. @teflgeek told us that he resents having to go to sessions where he knows the topic well. I and @NikkiFortova were surprised that anyone could feel that there was nothing left to learn, but, if that’s the case, then why not share your knowledge with less experienced colleagues? Surely, part of effective CPD is passing on your expertise to others?
- Have a wide range of CPD options available and allow teachers to select what they want to do (but don’t give them the possibility to choose nothing!!).
- Make CPD hours self-directed and give teachers some autonomy in how they develop.
- CPD is best when it comes from within, such as teachers forming their own co-operative development groups (suggested by @teacherphili).
- Allow CPD to happen organically – for example, teachers meeting informally in groups to talk about classes and share tips (suggested by @harrisonmike).
- CPD needs to be challenging according to @teflgeek in order to keep teachers motivated, a sentiment shared by many #eltchatters.
- Encourage peer observations so that everyone can learn from each other. After doing an observation, teachers can be encouraged to fill in a reflective practice questionnaire.
- Ask teachers why they are against CPD – perhaps bad experiences in the past have put them off.
- Introduce some kind of reward system for teachers who take part in CPD. @timjulian60, for example, told us that in his institution, teachers are paid double the hourly teaching rate if they lead a PD session.
- Link CPD opportunities to the conditions of pay rises or contract renewals.
- Get teachers who have benefitted from CPD to share their experiences with their colleagues.
- Not every teacher needs to do the same PD – they can do different things and then share their learning back at school so that everyone benefits.
- Have teachers make up a community of practice (see link below) to pool resources and brainstorm ideas (via @jankenb2).
- Use guile – ask the ‘dinosaurs’ for help with your class! (via @AlexandraKouk).
- Don’t overwhelm them. Introduce CPD little by little – in manageable chunks.
- Be there for your colleagues in the same way as you are for your students!
- Don’t call them ‘dinosaurs’!!
Can ‘dinosaurs’ be converted?
The consensus seemed to be that they can, but that the metamorphosis from dinosaur to passionate educator is a very slow process with lots of resistance to overcome along the way. @NikkiFortova said that she had met a few converts, but the key was that they had wanted to change and saw that the process wasn’t hard or painful. I myself have a ‘work in progress’, but don’t want to go into detail just in case my encouragement so far means that he is now reading my blog!! 🙂
At the end of the day, if the culture of an organisation encourages CPD, then teachers will embrace that culture or leave of their own accord!
Differentiating Professional Development: The Principal’s Role – a book highly recommended by @cioccas.
A cross-curricular activity on dinosaurs!
A sharing blitz for CPD via @cybraryman1
A questionnaire for teachers to suggest workshops via @Marisa_C
Plenty of ideas on different forms of CPD via @AlexandraKouk
My CPD page by @cybraryman1
Communities of Practice via @jankenb2
Co-operative development via @teacherphili
The Peter Principle via @esolcourses
About the Author
- Andrea Wade or @worldteacher
- Binh Duong New City, Binh Duong Province, Vietnam
- I am an EFL teacher and world traveller, currently living in Binh Duong, Vietnam, having recently completed two years in Treviso, Italy. Together with my husband, Mark, I try to enjoy every single day.