Teachers teaching teachers

19th May 2006 at 01:00
ne of the innovations introduced under the national teachers' agreement was the requirement that all teachers undergo 35 hours a year of continuing professional development. While the range and quality of CPD have undoubtedly improved in many areas, doubts remain over whether all teachers are benefiting equally. Margaret Alcorn, national CPD co-ordinator, warns today (page one) that for some teachers professional review and development is more of a "monitoring exercise designed to find out how teachers have used their 35 hours" than a coaching intervention - as it should be.

Elsewhere in this week's issue (CPD supplement, page seven), we see evidence from a teacher in her first full year of teaching that she has been so overwhelmed trying to handle a difficult class that she has had neither the time nor the energy to pursue the varied CPD options offered by her local authority. What she really needed was CPD in behaviour management, ideally delivered as a coaching or mentoring intervention.

The need for mentoring does not suddenly stop when a new teacher finishes their induction year. A health warning needs to be made, however. Not all senior teachers are equipped to be mentors simply by dint of collecting years of classroom experience. They need to want to support new teachers entering the profession - not see it as an imposition.

A new theme is emerging via the United States: that some of the most beneficial professional development is delivered by teachers to other teachers. For too long, teachers have been able to treat their classroom as a private fiefdom, unassailable by any would-be intruders. A Curriculum for Excellence will make more demands on teachers than many yet realise. If teachers are to deliver an interdisciplinary curriculum, in primary and secondary, they will have no choice but to share ideas, however uncomfortable this may be for some.

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