When you finally got that last exam result, and could call yourself a qualified teacher, I’m sure you felt a massive relief wash over you. After all that hard study, trial and error, you were finally able to launch your career and start making a real difference to the youth of the nation. I hate to break it to you, but your training doesn’t stop there! Education is constantly evolving, and in order to make sure you’re doing your job as a teacher you need to evolve with it. Here are some helpful pointers for getting the most out of your ongoing professional development.
First of all, make sure you’re filtering everything that you learn through the context of your working environment. When you’re going into a workshop or seminar to improve your skills as a teacher, the tendency can often be to make it all about you. However, if you don’t keep the short and long-term objectives you’ve set your students in mind, you can be sure that you won’t be getting the most you can out of your formal professional development. Before you walk into that first class, think about the end goals all your students are working towards, how they’re progressing towards that goal, where they’re falling short and so on. Put these into bullet-points right at the top of your notes, and keep referring back to them. There are some great CPD resources out there today, but you won’t get much out of them if you’re not thinking about how you’re going to apply what you’ve learned.
Next, try to limit the number of big points you take away from your CPD lessons. Workshops, classes and so forth are typically filled with a huge amount of strategies, ideas, case studies and information. When you’re trying to take it all in and make use of every little part of it, it’s easy to end up with jumbled, disorganized notes and a severely frazzled brain! Of course, you should be taking notes on anything that could be important to you by the end of the course, but don’t try to cram in every last detail. Instead, go back to your first few bullet points about the state of the class you’re teaching, where it needs to be going and the areas where you can improve as a teacher. When these come up, invest more time in them than other, more universal points.
Finally, share your ideas with others. Just as you might put your students into groups so they can bounce ideas off of each other and learn things from their peers, you should be going out of your way to talk to your peers in seminars and workshops. Hearing your own ideas and perspectives out loud and discussing them with other teachers can be a fantastic method of self-assessment, and will help you to assimilate information a little more easily. As you go along constantly assessing how well you understand what’s being taught and hearing different takes from others, it will deepen your understanding of the whole course.
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