The Importance of Continuing Professional Development
Continuing professional development (CPD) is accepted as an integral part of teacher education because only a continuing learning and training assures a high level of expertise and enables the teachers to keep their professional skills and knowledge up-to-date. CPD therefore should not regarded only as an obligatory activity just to meet the required 35 hours.
Just about all fields of science are progressing at a rapid pace, while the new generations have considerably different approach to learning than the previous generations. CPD enables teachers to keep up with the relevant and up-to-date knowledge in their field as well as with the newest pedagogical approaches which are adjusted to the needs of the 21st century. Ironically, the greatest interest in CPD show new teachers who went through an up-to-date education and training. They view it as an opportunity to develop professionally as well as to improve their classroom skills. Longer serving teachers are not necessarily reluctant to change their practice but generally, they do not accept new pedagogical methods as easy as their younger colleagues. CPD should therefore primarily be focused on encouraging longer serving teachers to stay in touch with the recent developments and continue to challenge their practice.
There are several ways to encourage CPD. One of the most effective and cost efficient ways to help teachers refresh their knowledge and pedagogical practice is to encourage exchange of information and ideas between the teachers in their own school. They should also monitor probationers who do not only learn from longer serving teachers but often also increase enthusiasm for teaching as well as transfer their older colleagues the up-to-date knowledge and skills in respect to both their field and pedagogical methods.
Just as important is to improve communication with other schools. By meeting colleagues from other schools, teachers will remain in touch with different teaching styles as well as advances in their field of expertise. At the same time, sharing ideas, experience and good practice helps raise education system on a higher level as a whole. It prevents the new approaches from remaining isolated to particular teachers or schools which in turn creates an better approach to quality education for young people throughout Scotland.
Another way to ensure CPD is to enable the teachers to take part in CPD courses which, however, do not always yield the desired results. There is a major concern about quality of providers of these courses including professional institutions because the quality depends greatly on the expertise of the trainer. Thus it is not uncommon for the teachers to be disappointed with these courses. But if CPD courses are used to encourage continuing learning, it is crucial that the attendance is voluntary and that individual teachers are allowed to choose a course they think will help their professional development the most.
In addition to the classic CPD, teachers can also take advantage of online materials, courses and teacher communities which are easily accessible and cost efficient. Many online CPD options have been shown an excellent alternative to the traditional methods, however, there is a concern about quality of some online CPD providers as well which is why monitoring is required when accessing online material or courses.