5 Ways To Make Professional learning more effective

What is professional learning?

Professional learning is any type of continuing education to improve their skills ranging from courses, webinars and workshops, to independent research, peer learning or even just conversing with others.

Why is professional learning important?

Having access to continuous learning opportunities and professional development means colleagues are more likely to  improve. In the case of teachers, it is commonly known that a third of teachers leave the profession within three years, and half of teachers leave within five years. This is a situation that needs to be changed to ensure the quality of schools and colleges remains high.

Experience is key when it comes to delivering quality classroom teaching. Teachers spend their whole careers refining their skills in response to the challenges they are faced in the classroom, but new teachers need time and input to build their own skill set.

Professional learning is key to helping both new and experienced teachers develop and refine the skills to effectively and confidently teach in the classroom. It encourages teachers to be actively involved in and accountable to shaping their own learning.

A lack of investment in professional learning opportunities can be discouraging. It communicates that the organisation, whether a school, college or other educational setting, doesn’t value improving staff.  This in turn puts more stress on staff having to develop their skills in isolation to ‘survive’.

How to make professional learning effective and engaging?

There are lots of challenges to creating effective professional learning opportunities, including funding, time and the engagement of staff. While these may seem initial ‘barriers’, these are short term obstacles to thinking about long term success. The following suggestions are 5 ways to making professional learning more effective:

1. Empower the staff

Staff are educated professionals and need to be interested and feel engaged. Staff learn in different ways and respond differently to different delivery styles. It is important that time and thought is put into delivery.

2. Make it relevant

The learning activities need to be relevant to the needs of the staff and the organisation. Try to make it more bespoke and give staff a choice about what or how they learn. Give different options, possibly through a menu, for workshops or courses that they can take. 

Once completed, ask for feedback at the end of the session. This evaluates the sessions and helps in planning future activities. Ask the staff to be open and honest, and value the feedback:  what worked, what didn’t, what they would change and what they’d like to learn more about next time. 

3. Part of an ongoing strategy

Quality time has been spent on delivering a relevant inspiring professional learning session, but ensure time, support and reflection is also planned for staff to implement their strategies.

If teachers don’t feel they have the required time and support they need to effectively implement the strategies into their classroom, before moving onto the next strategy, they’re not going to invest  — which means wasted time, effort and money.

4. Embed the strategy

Effective learning opportunities don’t just take place in a single CPD session at the end of the school day. For many, especially teachers, they often struggle to fit teacher professional learning opportunities around their teaching commitments. Providing quality time is key. What is the most effective way to use professional learning time to gain the best outcomes? Possibly using peer coaching, workshops with other staff from other schools, rather than just traditional after school sessions. 

5. Creating a professional learning portfolio

A professional learning portfolio allows an individual to gain an overview of their own career development. Clearly identifying the strengths, areas for development and planning their future development. The portfolio provides the basis for professional coaching conversations, with colleagues, to plan individual learning goals on a short-term or long term basis, and gives clear benchmarks for achieving success. These are easily tracked on a monthly, termly or yearly basis to see how staff are progressing. Use the portfolio to self reflect against role expectations/standards. 

Making sure feedback recorded is effective and has actionable steps to help staff improve. If staff don’t know where they can do better, they’re not given the opportunity to act.

Ensure that staff have access to a range of support materials; courses, certification classes or even emotional support as they try new techniques, that can be added to their portfolio.

Final thoughts on professional learning

Today’s educational settings are hectic and opportunities for professional learning often fall by the wayside. It is important that professional learning is embraced and valued within an organisation’s culture. Everyone in your organisation has the opportunity to flourish and succeed when accessible, engaging and supportive professional learning opportunities are provided.

How can iP support effective professional learning?

Your iP platform provides several tools to make the requesting, recording and data analysis of professional learning slick and easy to manage:-

  1. CPD Request (User Defined)
  2. CPD Recording (User Defined)
  3. Areas for Development
  4. CPD Leader bulk ‘push out’ (CPD Controlled)
  5. Video Technology for self-reflection, coaching and mentoring
  6. Reports and analysis (impact, feedback, and cost)

CPD Request (User Defined)

Any user can record CPD they have planned or have been on in their own appraisal area called ‘My Work Area’.  The staff member provides simple details about the course including:-

  • Title
  • Description
  • CPD Type e.g. external/internal (bespoke list)
  • Course and travel costs
  • Provider
  • Cover Request
  • Links to other appraisal areas such as objectives, observations, Teaching Standards etc.
  • Impact/Feedback including a star rating system to be completed when attended.

 

Line Managers, CPD Leads and iP Site Administrators can also add a course on behalf of a staff member.  All of the above is collated across the organisation automatically to provide the CPD lead and others in the SLT detailed, bespoke reports at the click of a mouse.

CPD Recording (User Defined)

Any user can make a CPD request for a course or training they are interested in attending by completing very similar details as described above.  The true power of a CPD Request, however, lies with the approval process.  Most educational settings have 3 levels of approval similar to below.  However, the settings allow an organisation to choose fewer or more lines of approval and the order can also be changed to suit.

  1. Line Manager - approves/disapproves
  2. Cover Supervisor - approves/disapproves
  3. CPD Lead.

Each person must approve the request (alerted by email) before the next.  The order is bespoke to the organisation and the titles can be changed.  A member of staff only has 1 Line Manager, but there can be numerous staff with the additional roles of Cover Supervisor and CPD Lead.

 

All of the course requests are collated across the organisation automatically to provide the CPD with lead and others in the SLT detailed, bespoke reports at the click of a mouse.

Areas for Development

Areas for Development are slightly different to the CPD area.  Any user can record an Area for Development concerning minor, everyday areas such as:-

  • Discuss next terms unit with the Numeracy leader
  • Improve on the use of Teaching Assistants
  • Plan for more cross-curricular links

Or users can record more aspirational areas for development, e.g:-

  • Enrol on the Education Masters Course
  • Take on extra Departmental duties to prepare for HOD role

By recording Areas for Development, a staff member is taking responsibility for their own CPD aspirations.  The aspirations may have been prompted by a very short term need to a longer term goal. They may have been raised by what is being taught next, a performance management objective, a teaching standard, a recent observation or a conversion with a colleague or Line Manager.  The Areas are visible to the Line Manager and the CPD Lead.  

All of the Areas for Development are collated across the organisation automatically to provide the CPD lead and others in the SLT detailed, bespoke reports at the click of a mouse.  The CPD lead can then review the Areas for Development to produce a Needs Analysis and to organise appropriate CPD.

Video Technology for self-reflection, coaching and mentoring

Self-reflective practice and collaborating with others is made possible using iP with the video annotation tool.  As previously discussed, many practitioners are now used to using video in their practice in one form or another. Many are now professionals at teaching over Zoom/Teams, recording teaching live or pre-recording to share with students.  A staff member can upload videos from their mobile device/iPad/other device and/or pre-existing videos.  In short, a user can add timestamps to indicate "good practice" and share items of interest.

Those with successful coaching programs embedded in their organisation also see the benefit of utilising video to reflect on performance, get feedback, and to objectively measure progress. The tool will allow the user to:-

  • Be objective – make annotations against time-stamps in the actual video
  • Share the video and annotations – have an online discussion with a collaborator/coach
  • Time and distance shifted – recorded lessons can be discussed at any time and sent to a collaborator to view and respond when feasible
  • Link to a form - allowing the staff members to complete a form to ‘calibrate’ against a guide e.g. for assessing a lesson for effective questioning, understanding learner behaviours, refining a specific teaching skill, lesson timings etc.

Click on the image below to view a short explanatory video.

If you are interested in finding out how you can embed the video annotation tool in your organisation, then please don’t hesitate to book in a FREE and UNLIMITED online training session with your Account Manager here

CPD Leader bulk ‘push out’ (CPD Controlled)

For annual CPD such as Safeguarding, the CPD lead can create the course and ‘push’ this out to all or selected staff across the organisation.  This is extremely time-saving and efficient.  Once the course has been created as a template, it can be used time and again.  The selected staff members will then see this in their My Work Area.

Reports and analysis (impact, feedback, and cost)

As previously mentioned, information from all individual staff members CPD activity is collated across the organisation to automatically provide the CPD lead and others in the SLT detailed, bespoke reports at the click of a mouse.  

Selecting CPD Activities/Courses returns a table of data of all of the CPD Activities/Courses information from all staff during the current review period.

This table of data can be manipulated in a variety of ways:-

1. Each column in the table can be ordered into ascending or descending order

2. Filters can be applied to refine the data displayed in the table

3. The Table can be exported into Excel, Word or PDF

4. Once all of the filters are set to generate the desired information, these reports can be saved as ‘Quick Buttons’ ready for the next time the same information is required.

CPD Lead/SLT reports for CPD Requests

Selecting CPD Requests returns a table of data of all of the CPD Request information from all staff during the current review period.

This table of data contains similar information to the CPD Activities/Courses table, but has the additional Request Status and Request columns detailing the progress of the approval. This table of data can be manipulated in a variety of ways:-

  1. Each column in the table can be ordered into ascending or descending order
  2. Filters can be applied to refine the data displayed in the table
  3. The Table can be exported into Excel, Word or PDF
  4. Once all of the filters are set to generate the desired information, these reports can be saved as ‘Quick Buttons’ ready for the next time the same information is required.

CPD Lead/SLT reports for Areas for Development

This CPD reporting area works in a very similar way to the two previous areas discussed.  The power of this table is the overview of the CPD needs of the organisation.  Here, you have the ability to filter, analyse ,review and suggest a CPD Activity/Course in the table.

What else can be bespoke?

As we have discovered, a CPD co-ordinator will benefit from a seamless process of managing CPD bookings, requests, areas for development and the costing. The paper trail is removed as all requests are managed centrally on . CPD feedback can be collated that enables the effectiveness of CPD to be assessed.

As mentioned above, there are several ways an organisation can make bespoke choices and some of these can be bespoke for the whole organisation.  Logging in as an iP Site Administrator, further settings can be found by clicking on:-

Settings > Performance Management > CPD Settings

1. Setting can be ticked to view/hide certain elements from all users in your organisation.

2. The CPD Type title can be edited, deleted or added.

3. The title and the order of the 3 x approval flow can be amended.

4. The CPD Request titles and colours can be edited.

5. Provider categories can be set up to make data analysis easier

6. Confirmation emails and reminders can be edited and amended

If I am a customer, what do I need to do to set this up on my iP site?

Simply call and ask to speak with your Account Manager to discuss your training needs.  We will help you to set up CPD on your iP site and even retrospectively upload all of the completed CPD onto your site for the current review period.  Please remember, all online training is FREE and UNLIMITED.

If I am not a customer, what do I do to find out more?

Call on +44 (0) 333 0433 450 or e-mail info@derventioeducation.com.

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