What CPD did you do this year?

21st May 2004 at 01:00
Karen Shead asked teachers in five authorities how they used their 35 hours

Joan Frampton

Home economics teacher for one year

Tain Royal Academy, Highland

"The continuing professional development process is not new to me. Being a new teacher and having gone through the new probationary experience, I am used to reading regularly and questioning my teaching.

"Meeting with other home economics teachers on a regular basis outwith school hours is very valuable. We exchange ideas, share problems and good practice, find out about new developments in the subject and discuss how to take the subject and our teaching forward.

"I surf the Internet every week to update myself on the latest happening in food, nutrition, health, teaching strategies, assessment and research. It takes time but I print off useful information and keep it in a development file.

"I am a member of the Highland Food and Drink Forum which meets on a monthly basis. Members are from the food and drink industry, hygiene, marketing and education. It provides an excellent opportunity to discuss topical issues with key members of the industry. I can make very good links between education and industry as I meet new contacts during every meeting.

"I recently attended the annual home economics conference in Dundee, which was an excellent opportunity to talk with other teachers across Scotland, share good practice and pick up resources. We received a talk from the Rowett Institute on obesity, which has inspired me to carry out some research into the subject to enhance my teaching in school.

"We had an in-service training day on assessment for learning, which I found extremely useful. It gave me practical ideas to use in the classroom.

Since then I have prepared notes for other staff and try to use theoretical aspects in my teaching.

"I have also followed up ideas explored on other training days. I have developed files for various areas of teaching (such as behaviour, assessment, learning styles) and put all the information into each file. I regularly take time out to read the research materials, discuss them with other teachers and try out some of the ideas.

"I take photos of pupil work when possible and have been developing my skills in using photographic software. This takes time but I am getting quicker with practice. The results are well worth the effort and pupils'

work is put on display."

Susan Maclennan

Nursery teacher for four years

Forthview Primary, Edinburgh

"I was given the opportunity to take part in a pilot scheme, run by the local authority, about enhancing classroom practice. We covered various topics, for example, different teaching styles and strategies, formative assessment and support for learning.

"The course started in September and we did a two-hour session once a week for four weeks in the first term and the same again in the second term.

"The course was all about getting us to look at things in different ways.

It made you think about your own practice and gave lots of useful strategies. We have been encouraged to share what we have learned.

"I have also been involved with the North Edinburgh Arts Centre, which is keen to get teachers engaged in its programme. I went to an open day for teachers and recently took part in a discussion about a play for early years. After seeing the show, they gave us ideas of how to use it and expand on it in the classroom. This is a good link with an external agency.

"We have had a lot of opportunites for CPD on an ad hoc basis. We meet up with people from different professions, speech therapists or psychologists, for example.

"We have also been working on emotional literacy. We have had a session with Elizabeth Morris, an emotional literacy guru, and she is coming back to our next in-service training day. Emotional literacy is a focus in school at the moment.

"And we are looking into working with local agencies on a healthy eating project.

"CPD is not just about reading. It's also about networking with people.

"And all credit to our head, Sheila Laing. She encourages us to make the most of opportunities and has set up a CPD bookshelf in the staffroom, in case we fancy some bedtime reading!"

Keith Polson

History teacher

for four years Galashiels Academy, Borders "Much of my CPD this year has centred on my participation in the General Teaching Council for Scotland's inaugural teacher researcher programme. This aims to involve more practitioners in research projects that relate directly to the classroom. It offered me an attractive professional development opportunity with an immediate practical classroom pay-off.

"Preparing my research paper on pupils' and teachers'

perceptions of Mind Mapping involved extensive professional reading, as well as research visits to Oban High (Argyll actively promotes mapping in the classroom) and the Buzan Centre in Bournemouth (the training organisation for Tony Buzan's Mind Maps technique).

"I also visited Model Learning, a Stirling company offering in-service training in using visual learning tools. The director, Ian Harris, is becoming increasingly influential in teaching nowadays.

"These experiences made me more reflective about my practice and how it impacts on my pupils' learning. It's interesting, inspiring and good to share ideas with colleagues. And the classroom payback has been immense.

Putting Ian Harris's ideas into practice has made a profound difference to interactions within my classroom.

"The GTC teacher researcher scholarship filled to overflowing my CPD folder for the year. The overspill has inspired many new ideas that I intend to add to my portfolio next school session.

"Keeping a record of CPD makes you appreciate how much you've been doing and encourages you to recognise that a lot of the reading that you do on teaching and learning ideas is relevant, valued and adding to your professionalism.

"Initially, the 35 hours beyond normal working hours seemed daunting, but the stipulation is very flexible in terms of the range of activities that constitute CPD. You soon discover that it is very easy to fill up this time.

"The new arrangements have encouraged me to reflect on good practice and to share this with colleagues."

Lesley Gordon

Biology teacher for 30 years

Inverkeithing High, Fife

"Other than developmental work for the department, my CPD this year has focused mainly on developing an eco-school policy. I'm doing the groundwork, finding out what we have got in place, finding groups to tackle different issues and keeping a note of what's being developed.

"I know roughly what it requires to become an eco-school, I've researched that. We are given a lot of information, so that doesn't require too much time.

"What does require time is finding out what the problems are in the school, the areas to tackle and how you go about tackling them: how we can meet the requirements successfully.

"I have been holding meetings. I've had some with kids, giving them a bit of autonomy to find out about it themselves. They have to set policies which are going to help solve the problems.

"It's definitely beneficial and it satisfies something in me. I want to get a better ethos in the school and I want to bring this form of education into children's minds; I want to make them realise what damage is being done to the environment.

"CPD can be adjusted to different interests. I go on courses and try to expand my knowledge on the subject. I went on a willow-weaving course and hope that we can eventually do that in the school. We built a seat made out of rubber tyres and are looking to make a greenhouse out of bottles.

"I would love to see lots of schools going down the same line."

Jackie Fulke

Depute headteacher teaching for 10 years

Dyce Primary, Aberdeen

"The authority's programme has been much more flexible this year, not all days out of school. There has been an abundance of twilight classes from 4-6pm and 4.30-6.30pm that I could tap into. We don't pay as individuals for the twilight sessions as they are funded by the local authority, so that has encouraged me to do them.

"I started the year with my NOF training for ICT to complete by November. I also did two management courses, on effective communication and working in teams, that were run by Aberdeen City Council.

"I've done a brain gym course, laid on by Aberdeen (two sessions of two hours, twilight). That was an interest of mine and, because I didn't have to be released from school, I had more freedom to do it.

"I also put my name down for Art Matters, a company from Fife. Pat Shanks, an ex-art teacher, and her colleague were doing interactive workshops and I got a certificate of attendance to put in my portfolio.

"I'm going on a primary maths course on using the 100+ board (from DES), which focuses on interactive and mental maths. The school has the board and I've seen it in action but this will allow me to use it myself for the first time.

"All the courses have affected my teaching.

"I've tapped into more this year because of the 35 hours and because I was more aware of the courses on offer, through the school. The bottom line is, I have felt more able to go to courses because the school hasn't had to pay for me or provide cover. They've strengthened my practice in my own time.

It would have been harder to justify using the school-based budget."

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