CPD for Teachers: Part 1 – What is CPD?
There is little argument that teachers are the the most valuable professionals in any learning society. Their importance in nation building and developing responsible and educated citizens, has been amply described by great thinkers and suitably demonstrated in various research activities that study social impact. We will, therefore avoid getting into details of the position of teachers in society.
If teachers are the “torch bearers in creating social cohesion, national integration and a learning society1,” then there need to be ample mechanisms to keep the fire burning. That’s where CPD, or Continuing Professional Development comes into the picture.
CPD is a relatively new term, but various professions have been carrying out this practice in some form or the other for over a century, at least. CPD has matured, primarily in the medical profession, with various governing bodies around the world making it mandatory for medical professionals to undergo a set hours of CPD every year. In a few cases, non-completion of CPD has implications on their right to practice. When we consider medical practice it becomes quite obvious why CPD is important. Consider going to a doctor who is not up to date with all the new discoveries, impact of drugs, newer procedures, and similar developments in his field, and relies only on what he learnt in medical college a few years ago. Would you be comfortable going to such a doctor?
In India, the NCFTE (National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education) which was published in 2009-10 by the NCTE (National Council for Teacher Education) has described a very well-defined approach for CPD for teachers. Various organisations have been tasked with implementing CPD for teachers, including Institutes of Advanced Studies in Education (IASEs), University Departments of Education, and the District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), in close collaboration with SCERTs. The SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan) has even defined that each teacher is to receive 20 days of training every year. However, according to the NCFTE 2009:
Micro-stories of success often seem to ‘fail’ when up-scaled. There is very little research into the effectiveness of training, or the status of school support activities on the ground, or detailed understanding of even reported successes and failures. Evidence of ‘effectiveness’ of training programmes and support activities, especially within the government system, continues to be only anecdotal and impressionistic, and even contrary, depending on who is asking the questions or doing the observation. (NCFTE, p. 64)
Teachers and school administrators need to have a very clear understanding of the nature of CPD, before implementing it. There is often some confusion about what constitutes CPD, which leads to variance between CPD programmes and the impact of such programmes. According to the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), CPD is defined as:
CPD is a combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that will help you manage your own learning and growth. The focus of CPD is firmly on results – the benefits that professional development can bring you in the real world. Perhaps the most important message is that one size doesn’t fit all. Wherever you are in your career now and whatever you want to achieve, your CPD should be exactly that: yours.
This definition of CPD is interesting in the sense of how it puts the focus on (a) the results and (b) the personal nature of developing your own CPD. Each teacher will need to identify what’s important to her own learning and growth, and develop a plan to continue to learn, track, and document the knowledge and skills that will be accumulated over time.
A simpler way to understand CPD, comes from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Wikipedia Link):
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (UK) approached the definition of CPD by ways of explaining each word in turn:
- continuing, because learning never ceases, regardless of age or seniority;
- professional, because it is focused on professional competence in a professional role; and
- concerned with development, because its goal is to improve personal performance and enhance career progression, which arguably is much wider than just formal training courses.
The NCFTE 2009 has also defined the aims for CPD programmes for teachers. These are:
- Explore, reflect on and develop one’s own practice.
- Deepen one’s knowledge of and update oneself about one’s academic discipline or other areas of school curriculum.
- Research and reflect on learners and their education.
- Understand and update oneself on educational and social issues.
- Prepare for other roles professionally linked to education/teaching, such as teacher education, curriculum development or counselling.
- Break out of intellectual isolation and share experiences and insights with others in the field, both teachers and academics working in the area of specific disciplines as well as intellectuals in the immediate and wider society.
In conclusion, given the role of a teacher in society and given the pace at which technology and social paradigms are changing, it is imperative for teachers to be aligned with, if not ahead of the development curve to make their practice meaningful and relevant. Students today are getting far more exposure to this pace than the students of previous generations did. A well-planned CPD programme is important for today’s teacher.
This article is the first part of a series we will be publishing, related to CPD for teachers. The next few articles will discuss the benefits, planning, and tools available for teachers to engage in a structured CPD programme.
eVeltio TEN is in the process of developing an online CPD for teachers. We expect to launch this programme in August. If you have suggestions for this programme or would like to contribute to it, please do get in touch with us.
1: NCFTE 2009, Published by NCTE (PDF)
2: “Curriculum Framework for Quality Teacher Education.” Preface. NCTE, n.d. Web. 23 July 2014. <http://www.ncte-india.org/pub/curr/curr_0.htm>.