CPD- Improve the teaching of individuals Differentiation, differentiation, differentiation.... but not when it comes to CPD? CPD is effective. It needs to be planned carefully though, and if there is one thing there has been too much of in education in the UK over the last decade it’s the sheer number of initiatives. That friendly bunch at OfSTED published a report on Good Professional Development in Schools in March 2010. One of their central conclusions was that CPD should be school based and focus on the specific needs within the school. The impact of the training should be assessed, and collaborative techniques should be used to develop practice across the school: School foci The core business of schools is achievement, and teaching and learning should be the main area of development in CPD. It is surprising how often this is not the case. Harriet Sergeant has written a disturbing report for the Centre for Policy Studies on the betrayal of white working class and black Caribbean boys. A lack of CPD focussed on teaching and learning that work, and a robust system for monitoring its impact can have disastrous effects on individuals and on society: Changing Practice Many teachers are resistant to change- which is probably a good thing given the amount of Snake Oil that is out there. Elmore (1996) has produced an important paper on this area, highlighting the observation from American schools that the closer an initiative comes to focussing on the practice of what actually happens inside a classroom, the less likely it is to be widely adopted. Elmore is unequivocal in his view on the typical quality of teaching, and of schools’ attempts to improve it: Effective teaching and learning orientated CPD, a culture within a school that is continually focussed on improving teaching technique through experimentation with evidenced methods, co-coaching and peer-mentoring orientated around development of those techniques with colleagues will all lead to greater change than the typical CPD strategy of, “watch someone in the school hall for a day and just get on with it in your lessons”. Co-coaching of some form, collaboration and a constant drive on the principles delivered in the CPD is essential: Nurture your experts Change management research is clear- individuals in a community vary predictably in their responses to initiatives. When a change is implemented, the degree of uptake can be reasonably predicted using the adopter continuum  (also called the ‘change adoption continuum’.) The model illustrates that there are visionary innovators that constantly embrace the new, followed by early adopters who will quickly and rapidly take-up new ideas. At the other end of the spectrum there are those individuals who are more ‘resistant’ to change. When introducing significant change into a school, it is essential to identify those individuals who can help drive the change- the innovators and early adopters that can, through their enthusiasm and energy, help distribute and embed change through the institution. It is often possible to predict, with some reliability, which group in the adopter continuum individual staff members will fall into. This means that well planned CPD includes differentiation in the manner in which individuals in a school or college will be supported in achieving the desired change in their day-to-day practice. The University of Victoria in Canada offer a brilliant guide on harnessing individuals from different areas of the adopter continuum in the pursuit of change. It is a must read in the planning of change within any school or college. Download a PDF version here.    
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