Any successful teacher will readily admit that they are still learning. This is what attracted me to this profession and what motivates me and encourages me to improve after a particularly taxing lesson with a class of boisterous 13 year olds. I truly believe that to develop as a teacher you need to invest in your own growth and the growth of CPD sessions on a variety of topics in order to keep our teachers engaged and to ensure quality lessons. But what happens if your teachers don’t want to learn?
CPD by its very nature is personal development so it cannot be viewed with a generic, one-size-fits-all approach. At the start of the year I like to talk to my teachers and try to identify some personal goals that they would like to achieve within the school year. While this might seem a bit daunting, particularly for new teachers who have just joined, it can be as simple as identifying areas where they would like to expand their knowledge, for example learning more about pronunciation, or as ambitious as completing a DELTA.
Throughout the year it’s important to give teachers the opportunity to reflect on their personal goals. Whether done publicly or privately the teacher needs the opportunity to talk through accomplishments or failings with another member of staff, be it a fellow teacher or a member of the management team. What is crucial is that the teacher has time to honestly reflect upon their teaching practice and receive feedback in some manner.
I also strongly believe that this reflection must also extend to senior teachers and members of the management staff, in fact I’d go as far as saying that the more experience you have as a teacher, the more important it is to reflect on your practice. Why? Because we are all guilty of falling into that comfort zone, pulling out again and again our tried-and-tested lesson plans or activities. While we might have the confidence and experience to sell them to our learners as if they were new ideas we risk the danger of becoming stagnated in our own development. The moment we stop striving to tackle things from a new perspective we risk becoming outdated and predictable. Newer teachers are far more self-critical and therefore are far more likely to edit and restyle their teaching approach.
A helpful criteria to apply after every lesson could be:
- What did I learn from teaching my lesson in this way?
- Which activities worked and didn’t work? Why?
- If I were to repeat the lesson how would I do it differently?
- What did I do as a teacher that challenged me?
- Which aspects of my lesson were appreciated and embraced by my learners?
- What are my students now able to do that they couldn’t before?
- If I were to repeat this lesson to a different group of learners would I have the same results? Why?