When continuing professional development is good, it tends to be very good. It educates, inspires and improves our practice. It challenges our perceptions and makes us look more self-critically at our attitudes and our classroom performance. You know when it is bad, because you'd rather be back in the classroom for the day.
At a recent CPD event, I was suddenly in the shoes of a pupil who doesn't understand. First of all, even when I had my glasses on, I could hardly read some of the PowerPoint pages. The printout (found lurking in the folder) of all the overheads was too small to read too. My specs give me incredible eyesight so, actually, it was their fault for not checking the room layout.
But is this what it is like to be a struggling reader - spirit willing but the struggle unequal? Or to have dyslexia, when you can read some of it, but not all of it? Immensely frustrating and I gave up, stopped trying.
There was also the problem of sound. When we shouted that we couldn't hear, the speaker hesitantly began using the microphone set up ready. But in such a huge room, the voice echoed like the announcements at Waverley Station, and we were left concentrating like mad, but missing every third word. Is this how hard it is for those who can't hear well? I did try, honest.
When we were asked to find the correct photocopy, having not heard which one it was, I had to rifle through the heap, looking competent until I got the copy the others had - and as they hadn't heard either ...
Lunch was good because the discussion I had was excellent, and I enjoyed the travel because the crack was good with my colleagues. But mostly, that day taught me that pupils will not learn unless they can access the curriculum; that being boring is bad, and being inspiring is good. No wonder pupils misbehave if they can't read the worksheets or board, or understand the lesson.
It did me no harm to have to suffer the indignities of not being able to follow or understand what they were saying. It has humbled me, and that is no bad thing.
Penny Ward is a secondary teacher.