Monday, 5 December 2011

Creating Your Own CPD Opportunities.

During the past four years I have worked in a school where there have been very limited CPD opportunities for me up until a few weeks ago. This has very disappointing in the light of there being three different management courses run by the school at different levels and there were and now are again opportunities to do courses with the National College for School Leadership, but only for favourites of the management.

It was most distressing when I came to fill in a job application form and all of my training is from four years ago. I decided to put things right for myself. CPD is available if you look for it and are prepared to use your own time.

Science teachers have/should have good access to training through the science learning centres. Unfortunately, despite the courses being paid for by bursaries this was still blocked for me.

I joined the ASE, which gives me access to School Science Review. Although not all the articles are of use to me on a day-to-day basis, I have found something in each addition that is of use or interest. Membership of the ASE has also given me access to two local events. The West of England Science Teacher Conference and a visit to Slimbridge on one summers evening. (I really enjoyed seeing a water vole, the Otters and a Spoonbill). Both of these events were outside school hours so I could go along.

I started using twitter for connecting with other teachers. Reading other blog posts and asking for ideas has been very useful. But more useful has been the positive community; I have connected with people who want to be better practitioners, who want to build a strong education system and have pride in their classrooms. For the first time in a long time I am more satisfied with my teaching and happier inside the classroom.

I have read books and continue to add to my library. The two I have really engaged with are called "Thinking for Learning" and "How Science Works". Both have made me reappraise my practice and what education is for. Whenever I visit London I go to Foyles as their education section is the best I have found.

In the South West the science learning centre and @Bristol hold free twilight events about 3 times per year to encourage teachers to come and use the facilities. There is always something to learn from these events.

I am on various mailing lists: STEMNET, National Science and Engineering Week, Edexcel, OCR, @Bristol and more. They send useful information so I don't need to search for it.

I have attended one teachmeet and contributed to another via video. Even taking part in distant teachmeets via watching the twitter hashtag gives something to reflect upon.

The National Big Bang Science fair occurs each March. I took my partner and step-daughter (you have to take a child) to the family day on Saturday. This was great CPD as almost all the companies related to science education were there, but not those trying to sell textbooks or online assessment packages. I am going again with a group of students and two members of staff. I really hope that they get something out of the day, I am sure they will.

I am planning to take part in an online training trial for the Yorkshire and Humber Science Learning Centre, although I haven't committed yet.

I am registered with the Schools Network and with TEEP, so get emails from them and can access their resources while I work at an affiliated school. I am also registered with the National College for School Leadership; there are a lot of good resources on their site and enough discussions to pose some questions and raise issues.

Lastly, as described in another blog post I too matters into my own hands and asked to be released by school to attend the ASE conference in Liverpool. I asked as early as possible in the year so there would be money available and I was granted permission. It was worth every penny and what I discovered will impact on my teaching for a long time to come.

Making your own opportunities does require a time commitment, but it has been worth the effort for me.