Education is in constant flux. Gone are the days when a teacher learnt all that is needed to know at teachers’ college. Teachers need to be constantly upgrading their qualifications or enhancing their teaching skills by attending regular professional development. This was made plain to me when I became a Head of Mathematics. One of my most important duties was the professional development of my staff. However, that also meant that I had to embark on constant professional development before I could fulfill my responsibility to develop my staff.
Often, the professional development I attended was mandated by the educational authority and I had to pass it down the line. I had to develop a strategy to get the most out of these opportunities so that I could give good feedback to my staff.
Here is how I went about it. Obviously, I would need to take notes in the workshop but they needed to be focused on how I needed to pass the information on. Therefore, I would divide my note pad down the middle. The left side was headed “New Information” and the right side “What Action Shall I Take”. On the left hand side, I would note the new idea/instruction in blue. On the right hand side, I would write in red what action I needed to take. The next day I would develop an action plan. That would include what I needed to do to get the ideas across to my staff. One essential part of this action plan was to write a report that went to all. Often, it led to my giving the staff a short workshop.
This eventually led me to present professional development workshops to teachers from other schools. In those workshops, I challenged my audience to leave the workshop with an action plan. In fact, in the workshop booklet, I included a model action plan Proforma as an example of how I went about making the most, personally, out of professional development.
One thing I always did was to decide on an idea that I would implement in my classes the next day. I knew that I needed to ‘strike while the iron is hot’ or the professional development would just become a ‘nice’ day away from my classes.
Below is an example of the action plan I put in my workshop booklets. The action plan was in the form of a series of questions teachers would ask themselves.
MY ACTION PLAN
What new Teaching Strategies can I trial?
What can I Trial In My Classroom now?
What Resources should I buy?
What Resources should I trial?
What New Skills do I need?
How can I get these New Skills?
What further Inservice do I need?