Much has been made over 2020 about the rise in online CPD.
It’s not surprising – necessity has made it vital and many of us have enjoyed the ability to connect with one another from the comfort of home and learn at the same time.
However, in Bangkok, where coronavirus cases are low, face-to-face CPD among staff in school has become more commonplace.
It’s a timely shift as until the pandemic hit, I think we had all got too keen on believing that a multi-day conference halfway across the world delivered by a big name draw was the only way we could learn. But why?
Bringing CPD in-house
After all, Teachmeets and other more structured sessions have allowed some colleagues to shine as they support and develop their peers and in a way that they know is reflective of the reality in which we teach. Who knows our school better than ourselves?
Indeed, during our lockdown, it somewhat irked me to find an almost immediate supply of "online learning experts", some of whom hadn’t been near a class or classroom for some time.
As such, at our school we quickly established that within our staffroom we had the experts – they are the people actually doing it, and they are more than articulate enough to help their colleagues.
Through lockdown staff worked together to establish ground rules around Zoom calls and our staff most au fait with the software being used made excellent, short self-help videos. Proficiency through collaboration.
Little and often
Secondly, a combination of Zoom fatigue and the lessons learned from delivering content to our students reminded us of an important truism: learning happens through the "little and often" process.
Think about how you best learn a language, a sporting technique, a piece of software or even a favourite recipe. Returning to it regularly, with good breaks and the motivation not hampered by interminable sessions lasting long into the night.
So why does training have to be all-day-long. Do we need three-day conferences? Might the CPD landscape change significantly if we apply simple theories of learning to ourselves?
Bringing this in-house, to short, snappy but relevant and engaging sessions, can be far more effective, fun and impactful.
A better use of time and money?
Lastly, and building on the above, it is perhaps also the case that those with the CPD budget now have a better understanding of the breadth of training courses out there. Some are great but others are less so.
If, then, you can deliver quality CPD in-house, for free, and in a manner that is more likely to have an impact, why not continue with this model?
All told, this makes me wonder if a coaching model, delivered often in short bursts, and mostly internally, is the way to go.
It’s certainly something we are now looking to focus on with our Shrewsbury Institute, which was formed over a year ago and is pivoting into this space with increasing gusto under assistant principal (staff) Vicki Rotheram.
We’ve moved a dozen colleagues through Tes Straight to Teaching, supported Teachmeets, hosted Learning Lunches, Pedagogy and Pastries, and the institute held its first Bangkok-wide Teachmeet and Good Practice days recently.
Better CPD for more colleagues, with better outcomes - a Covid windfall perhaps. Who would have thought it?
Chris Seal is principal of Shrewsbury International School Bangkok, Riverside Campus and a Tes Global Advisory Board Member. He tweets @lessonflipper