CPD stands for Continuous Professional Development and it normally refers to the knowledge and skills obtained beyond the formal education (i.e. after completing a Bachelor’s Degree). It is also a way to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in your profession and move a step further from your comfort zone. Therefore, both newly qualified teachers and experienced ones can take advantage of it.
By Tanya Livarda
What is CPD for teachers?
There are quite a few ways teachers can improve their academic and skills. Initially, obtaining another university degree is the most completed way in order for the teachers to enhance their existing knowledge as well as to commence thinking critically or reflecting on their teaching practices. By acquiring a Master’s degree, especially in TESOL, not only has a teacher the opportunity to learn more on a specific area, but he/she starts taking part in the research process. In this way, teachers start questioning their current teaching methods and experiment on new ones.
Additionally, if you prefer a much faster and a more economical way in order to improve your career, shorter yet challenging courses are offered; CELTA and its older sibling Delta. Both of them refer to both newly qualified and experienced teachers, but we should bear in mind that both courses need time and effort with Delta being slightly more difficult than CELTA. Nevertheless, both teaching certificates can broaden your knowledge and put into practice the teaching techniques that you have learnt.
Another indirect way of improving your teaching is through networking. Friendship is the salt and pepper in our lives. Imagine a teacher without having another teacher as a friend. Who knows better the problems that we face every day in our classes? Who has to cope with the same problems as you? Of course another teacher. Social media play a vital role in that since these days it is easier to join a teaching group or meet other teachers. However, networking also means to join formal local or international teaching associations. Consequently, you have the chance to discuss about issues or problems that you think they are unbearable and finally find a solution.
Last but not least, attending workshops, webinars or shorter courses (one or two days) are the fastest way to stay informed and networking at the same time. An even better idea is to present in conferences, conduct workshops or write articles.
So…a necessity or a trend?
Neither of them and both of them simultaneously. CPD starts when you feel that you need something more than just teaching by the book. It is your inner self that pushes you and reminds you that it might be a good idea to try this new activity that you saw in the last workshop or adapt the ones you are currently using. For other teachers, CPD begins when they network with other teachers and discuss about how they can assist their students, how they can solve the classroom management issues or share their latest app or activity that they have found that worked in their classes. For other teachers, CPD starts when they attend a Master’s degree course or a CELTA or Delta course because at some point in their teaching career, feel that they are in a dead end.
But when does this Continuous Professional Development stop? The obvious answer is ‘never’. Therefore, to me, CPD is your way to show that you are a restless, creative and flexible teacher who constantly seeks for something different or something new. It is also a way to show that you are a professional who takes his/her job seriously.
Having experience is great but lifelong learning is even greater. The above mentioned ways are only a drop in the ocean of CPD. It is vital we (as teachers) choose the way that is more convenient to us and move a step forward.
Tanya Livarda (BA/ MA in TESOL, CELTA) has been teaching English as a second language for the past eight years and she has worked in summer schools for the past two years. She is also an oral examiner. She has completed several CPD courses conducted by various organizations and universities and she has attended a plethora of workshops in teaching methodology. She has been a member of Tesol Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece and of IATEFL.