How can CPD be cost effective and not take up too much time? #ELTchat Summary 12/06/2013

A PLN for ELT Professionals

How can CPD be cost effective and not take up too much time? #ELTchat Summary 12/06/2013

#ELTchat summary: How can CPD be cost effective and not take up too much time?


This was the ELTchat from Wednesday noon, which I managed to join half-way-through. Reading the transcript also proved  useful for me as a way of catching up with the earlier part of the discussion. I proposed this question, partly because my school had just paid to bring over Adrian Underhill (@ BobK99:Brilliant man: good video: to do some workshops, followed by 1-2-1 sessions where each of us was prompted to develop an individual plan for our CPD. I was disappointed by the attitude of some of my colleagues who felt hard-done-by at having to give up their Friday afternoon, or Saturday morning, or even didn’t take part in either session.


What is CPD?


It stands for Continuous Professional Development, a way for teachers to make progress and grow in their field.


As Marisa_C said ‘CPD is not just about LEARNING – it’s also about reflection and the inspiration to learn some more – often socially stimulated’
‘Hypocrisy in the Profession of Education’ by Tom Whitby gives an interesting insight into the why’s of CPD.
@worldteacher:PD doesn’t have to be attending something or being online does it? Reflecting on lessons, reading something or sharing an idea are equally valuable.


Is CPD most beneficial for trained or untrained teachers?


What about for teachers starting out in their careers?


I think it’s harder for new teachers to see how much more choice and opportunity they’d have if only….


Would a new teacher find the amount of information  and opinion out there overwhelming?


Some do! Very true; perhaps a mentor would help, especially for new teachers.  They could offer some hand-holding 🙂


@rliberni true it can all seem very overwhelming yet we ‘old hands’ don’t feel that!


@JoHart kicked the proceedings off in style by suggesting that PLN and twitter chats such as #ELTchat, among others, should be accepted as CPD, as this would the reduce pressure to do non-relevant sessions. As this is not generally the case at the moment, it would require a change of thinking from management/ administrators. Directors need to realise the benefits of the training available on the internet and understand that there is a whole new world out there.  Jo mentioned IfL’s REfLECT programme which lets you maintain a PLN/CoP and allows you to auto-submit CPD evidence annually.
@ElkySmith stated that, in her opinion, it was the most important member benefit from the Institute for Learning and it is free to members.
Julian_LEnfant said something echoed by everyone taking part this evening: I find the cross-fertilization of talking to all of you from so many different backgrounds challenging and thought-provoking = CPD


Local pd can be effective – especially for people not yet in social networks – but is it enough?

esolcourses suggested that local PD can sometimes be very effective. She has seen both free and paid sessions done well.


Online development could be a very cost-effective route to take, and could be tailored to each teacher’s particular interests. However the following comments are interesting on the subject:
I limit the amount of time I spend on social media these days, tbh.  I get more work done 🙂
Can also be a procrastination tool 😉
A lot depends on your motivations for using it too, in my opinion
I agree. It can take up a lot of time and we need to see what value it is bringing too
Yes,  that’s understandable and my use is patchy.
CPD & focusing – Making sense out of chaos: professional development with social media, by @ann_f


Alone or collaborative?


How do you define Cost Effective?


@Marisa_C wanted to know whether that meant free or not.
@esolcourses suggested that it meant time or money well spent.
@SophiaKhan4 was shocked at the cost of conferences and thought that cheap attendance was the way forward.
@BobK99 suggested that to be cost effective necessitated either a low charge to the participant or the costs being covered by the school. This was disputed by @esolcourses who believes that free doesn’t always equate to quality.

@AlexandraKouk thought that it was cost effective if the time and money spent provided good value.

@mohamed_si thought that it had to be productive relative to the cost.


@BrunoELT: Anything I do that I pay from my own pocket and reflects on my practice is cost effective for me.

@esolcourses:attending conferences comes out of my own pocket and is expensive, but in my opinion, it’s money well spent.


Freelance teachers are certainly in a less advantageous position than if you worked for a large organisation.

Financially it’s much harder without institutional support. But I have the freedom to choose, it’s true.

I think in some ways you are freer to pick and choose – in some ways only.

Well, as the head of a small institution, I am in much the same position as you – so I have to be very careful.

Are free sessions were beneficial or not?

But if it’s free do staff take it seriously?

If they don’t, how much do they really care about CPD?

I think to take it seriously they have to “buy in” or gain in some other way eg: It has to be accepted by the organisation and counted as work time.

Some preferred the idea of paying for quality training, rather than sitting through something with no relevance which was free of charge, but took  targeted free CPD seriously too.

@theteacherjames: As a freelance teacher I don’t have anyone to pay for me. We have to take some initiative for ourselves.

@ BrunoELT: Exactly, James! Even employed, if we don’t take some initiative for ourselves nothing may change.

@trylingual: CPD could be better if self directed (and funded?) I.e. you want more if you pay for it.

There is tendency to value PD less if  it is free – the “get what you pay for” feeling.

SophiaKhan4: the way you change as a teacher will always be the way *you* change, always individual at heart

Marisa_C:Apply principles of Quality Circles WE are!!!


How can we develop alone? Research and reflection can be done alone but only to a point.Collaboration is key.

Hmm, I am not sure it is, I accept that having somebody to share with / talk to is perhaps better, but PD can be done alone.

Agreed, I still do better alone – I reflect in my head better than in writing

CPD can be done alone – sure – but social learning  is more effective learning – look what we’re doing here!

Hmm! I do the social learning bit (I’m here after all!) but still actually learn better alone 🙂

We need to show that collaboration is always going to be more productive!

I have to say I do most of mine alone…but for want of like-minded souls perhaps:-)

Since ELT is also dominated by managers who are business people – a product-oriented attitude blocks sharing with others.

What are the options for free CPD?

There are many free webinars by the major publishers. These are useful resources and can supplement in-house Professional Development, although they often have an agenda such as – book sales!

However many online conferences are available which are not linked to publishing houses, e.g. the excellent Virtual Round Table or VRT, and the Reform Symposium.
Marisa asked whether, with the amount of free material accessible, fee-paying conferences are an old paradigm.

@Julian_LEnfant suggested subscriptions to ELT newspapers such as ELgazette(online version available), and British council newsletter could be beneficial as they contain interesting articles.

@ Russell1955 and Nik Peachey also do a free monthly newsletter and you only need to register with them:-)

Julian reminded us that International House often runs free online conferences which are open to non IH-ers andShaun announced that the next one would run in November 2012.And everything from that conference is here from the ppt slides to the recordings – thanks Alexandra!

Marisa offered us the recorded sessions from IATEFL Glasgow  which are available to watch at leisure, and also mentioned the wealth of material made accessible by i-Tunes.

@BobK99 agreed that the internet was a useful source of  free development material and that self-directed PD appeared to have better outcomes.

@HarrisonMike: If you’re in London, British Council runs a seminar season, free to attend – videoed & available online afterwards

Lots of free webinars on the net.
@burcuakyol did a great free moodle course which is still accessible (though no feedback) for beginning bloggers.
@JennyJohnson10: ‘Bring and Share’ your good ideas for cpd activities  to  the teachers’ meeting to tell colleagues about.

@worldteacher: It helps my CPD to blog about seminars/webinars I’ve attended  and gives me a record for future reference

@Marisa_C: Blogging also makes it easier to share my CPD with colleagues

@theteacherjames:When I observe teachers, I often include articles on something that came up in the lesson.This encourages reflection and is different for each teacher.

@SueAnnan: Write an #eltchat summary 🙂

So what else is available?

@BobK99 proposed using ePortfolio to keep your eyes on development at all times.
Marisa asked at what point do / might / should Teachers feel the need for more structured CPD? (if ever) – meaning an actual course

@william_dejean: I have found writers’ workshops to be the best way

Conferences are not free to attend but some of them are highly valuable for career development for teachers. There are scholarships and bursaries available for attending conferences.

Here is a list of the scholarships on offer by #IATEFL for 2013

@AlexandraKouk wanted to know whether reflecting and sharing aspects of your teaching through a blog would constitute PD, and the answer was a definite ‘yes’.

@esolcourses said that the networking attached to conferences and the chats over coffee provide excellent opportunities for learning,  and let’s not forget the informal CPD that goes on between & after sessions, too. Just as useful, if not more so!

I’ve heard of people who pick a focus each year – blog, or conference, reflective journal, presentation, etc.

What about the ‘Time’ question?

@BrunoELT said that teachers have to recognise that there will always be a time investment involved in any CPD, which @esolcourses agreed with:I think a lot depends on what you are looking for and what you want to invest to get this.
Doesn’t worthwhile PD always demand time? Need for depth of thought.

Teachers with busy timetables and family lives might find CPD time consuming.

Time consuming doesn’t really feature if you are committed to doing it.

How can overloaded/overworked/committed teachers find time for PD?
I have seen some use Twitter well for this, but many teachers are still uncomfortable with its use.

Often the  issue is insufficient time, so people feel CPD takes time they need for prep/resource find & teach – organisations need to build in time!

@esolcourses: I agree that worthwhile PD demands time –   but I’m suggesting the need to focus:-)




@trilingual: I recently read that 9 mins a day should be devoted to career development. Could the same be said for CPD ?
This sparked off plenty of ideas about what could feasibly be achieved in such a short time frame:

  • Read a few tweets.
  • Read a blog post & comment
  • wire a tweet
  • reflect on a lesson/idea/article.
  • share an idea
  • watch a short video interview from a conference
  • You could read an #eltchat summary- And still have time to spare! 🙂
  • Blogging for CPD should also be mentioned – commenting first perhaps and blogging later
  • Find 3 webinars to bookmark for later viewing
  • Listen to one PechaKucha per day & comment 🙂
  • Speak to a student.
  • Do a needs analysis.
  • Observe a peer.
  • Chunk CPD into manageable segments, i.e. watch a webinar in stages, 9/10 mins at a time
  • Think of something you’re interested in and search  for it on Youtube. Watch a short clip that looks interesting.
  • Write a reflective journal entry
  • The 9-minute CPD daily plan!!! Nice ideas!!
  • Should we make it our #ELTchat June challenge?- Watch this space (and hashtag)….#9mins

Some people thought that the idea was good, but that 9 minutes was a little on the short side:-)

9 *minutes*?! Bit random? But yes, maybe 15 mins a day, or 1hour a week, some blocking of time to focus on that.

It will take much more than 9 minutes to go through @Cybraryman’s Professional Development page:

9 mins is a bit short but what about 30 mins?

I Like the 30 minutes idea –  you could do quite a bit in that time!

@ShaunWilden: I can feel a new blog coming on…..)

How about Your Daily 30-minute CPD Workout?

Brilliant! We could write some 30 minute modules 🙂


Does obligatory PD work?

@harrisonmike: it seems that ‘forced’ PD is not very effective.

Agree forced PD is ineffective but what to do about the dinosaurs( shorthand for teachers who don’t want any PD) who don’t want to develop in any way!
Keep trying!  It is important to value their experience;PD needs to be relevant not just forced.

@theteacherjames had his tongue firmly in his cheek, I hope, at this juncture:Offer support and a  range of CPD options, and if these are rejected, offer the door ; well, it is part of the job. If they don’t want to do it, then they don’t want the job.@SophiaKhan:In a previous school we alternated *paid* 1hour weekly staff meeting & PD which worked very well.

@AlexandraKouk voiced her opinion that managing CPD effectively involves steering your own path assertively, rather than being directed.

This was echoed by @SophiaKhan4 who suggested that CPD has to be geared to the individual nowadays.



Can we evaluate our own performance or get direction from mentors or a DOS – this would be a start.

In a school setting, it is the DOS’s responsibility to create a climate conducive to sharing, CPD etc

Is it also DoS’s responsibility to help Ts sort through all the CPD opportunities out there?

DoS responsibility is having regular chats with teachers to steer them in the right direction. This is where a good mentor or manager can help teachers be more self-directed.

I guess one problem some teachers face is  the lack of support  from DoS for CPD. This one struck a chord with a few of us.

And what about Managers who don’t appreciate the efforts of the teachers vis-a-vis CPD?

What about managers who don’t appreciate teachers’ PD efforts? come to LAM/TD SIGs event Brighton – very relevant!

Often if managers don’t value it, neither do teachers. In Shaun’s opinion, managers have a responsibility to provide PD opportunities

Improving teaching in your school = better reputation = more students. This surely has to be ‘cost effective’ for managers, which suggests that  it is in the school’s interest to pay for some CPD as they will ultimately reap the benefits.

But how clear will the link between reputation and quality be?



Some advice to help a teacher make the right CPD choice

Maybe we need to evaluate where we are and what we actually want to improve and then be selective.

Needs analysis for teachers?

@JoHart: I think you need to be selective –  there is so much good/interesting stuff out there that you can easily get distracted or sidetracked

Perhaps teachers should start with areas more relevant to their teaching context or areas they find difficult to cope with?

I think you have to decide on what is really important to you and prioritise.

You also need to improve your time management!

It would appear that reading is very important even though we all find it overwhelming to some extent and try to pare it down to recall via bookmarking – etc.

You can do as much or as little as you want and have time for.


We are all agreed that CPD is an important feature in a teacher’s working life. We have shown that it doesn’t need to cost the earth, and can be done in short periods of free time. Don’t think about it- find something you would like to do and-  just do it!!!


Posted by sue annan at 10:33 PM