Downsides

19th May 2006 at 01:00
Ihave to rack my brains to think of the continuing professional development I have undertaken this year. As a newly qualified teacher who completed her probation last year, I have felt so preoccupied with the day-to-day running of my class that CPD has fallen way down my list of priorities.

Devising activities, planning lessons, locating resources, implementing and adapting behaviour strategies, liaising with colleagues, carrying out national assessments, putting up displays in class and numerous other tasks have all taken precedence.

I know CPD can be useful and I wish I had received guidance on how to handle an unruly class. But it is that unruly class that has sapped my energy and made 4pm courses on behaviour management incredibly unappealing.

To be fair, in August, I was given a huge box file by my local authority, full of details of courses from which I could pick one day-long event to attend. But at the start of the year I felt too swamped by having full-time responsibility for a class to give it the attention it deserved.

As a result, most of the CPD I have received this year has been on in-service training days or during staff meetings after school.

I would have liked more, and what I have experienced hasn't been all that useful.

I have had two sessions on how to use a digital camera, but very little on how to use the interactive whiteboard that is about to be installed in my classroom.

I have received input on how to build more enterprise activities into the curriculum, but a busy timetable has made this difficult to act on.

I spent two days out of school and an evening learning how to implement personal learning planning. But now the initiative - due to be piloted by a cluster of schools in my local authority - seems to have lost its momentum and is no further forward than it was at Christmas.

What I would have liked was guidance on how to handle a Primary 7 class with half a dozen difficult pupils who have, at times, made it impossible to teach. I would have liked tips on how to get through marking more efficiently. And I would have liked practical advice on good lesson ideas, and tried and tested tips on how to make activities more interesting.

I have received glimmers of inspiration on all of these areas through talking to colleagues, but these valuable conversations have been all too short and infrequent.

Maybe I could have done more to seek out CPD opportunities, but teaching is a demanding job.

I have many friends who have worked as supply teachers since qualifying and access to CPD has been even more tricky for them.

Schools can be reluctant to fund training for temporary members of staff, leaving 4-6pm courses as their only option.

It feels as if the need to have CPD built in to your training is forgotten as soon as you stop being a probationer.

Yet, I think many new teachers would appreciate one day a month or even a term dedicated to professional development. This would not only keep us up to date with current thinking, but would give us a chance to talk and share ideas.

It can be a lonely experience feeling like the only one in a school who is not sure of what you are doing.

The writer is a new teacher

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