18 Mar 2022
Research shows that quality continuing professional development (CPD) is one of the most effective ways to improve outcomes for all students.
It also shows that there are significant benefits in teachers taking responsibility for their own professional development — selecting, engaging with and reflecting on quality professional learning activities.
So how do you decide what CPD to complete each year?
Here are a few ideas to help you to choose CPD that meets your needs.
The focus of Australian Professional Standards for Teachers 6.1 is on identifying and planning professional learning using all the APST to identify your own learning needs, to set goals and plan your learning. Focus areas 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4 are about engaging in different types of professional learning, all with the intention of improving student learning.
Using the Standards to reflect on your practice and your current context will both help you to uncover gaps in your knowledge and skills and also remind you of your capabilities and achievements. Perhaps you moved to a new community or you are teaching a student with a learning need for which you aren’t familiar (Standard 1). Are you delivering a curriculum area for the first time (Standards 2, 3 and 5)?
By considering your practice against the Standards, you can identify areas of learning that will support you to improve outcomes for your students in your context at your career stage.
If you are employed by a school, there will be employer priorities that are addressed in mandatory or school-directed CPD. In addition to that CPD, there will be CPD that you choose. It should take into account your experience and needs, and be relevant to your day- to-day experiences. You might choose to supplement the school-mandated CPD with more learning on the same topics. Or you might identify learning that is specific to your needs.
If you are a supply teacher, you can identify CPD to update your knowledge and skills on legislation or on school priorities for those schools in which you teach.
Know what you want to get out of the professional development before you consider what is available. If you have clear goals, it will be easier to know whether an activity will be useful.
CPD activities that are targeted to your context and professional goals are more likely to maintain your interest and become embedded in your practice than generalised CPD designed for a broad audience.
Good quality professional development will be evidence-informed and from a reputable source. If you can, find out who created/who is delivering the CPD. Are they expert practitioners? Are they well perceived in the education community? What is the evidence that there will be an impact on your practice and improved outcomes for your students? To which of the APST does the professional development align?
Resources and activities that might be of interest are listed on the QCT website, but you will also find examples of good practice on the Australian Institute
for Teaching and School Leadership website.
For example, Illustrations of practice are available for all Standard descriptors at different career stages.
Think also about how you like to learn. Do you prefer learning that is interactive? Practical? Collaborative? Text-based? Does what is being offered sound like it will be engaging for you?
Standard 7: Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community
Often, we go looking for external sources of CPD when valuable learning can happen closer to home. Colleagues and professional associations are often excellent sources of professional learning that is relevant to your context.
Is there someone in your context who can mentor you? Who can challenge you to examine and reflect on your practice? Who can help you to evaluate the effectiveness of your practice when you implement your learning? Who can help you to identify your next learning goal?
Colleagues can also point you in the direction of CPD they have completed themselves and which they found useful.
Continuing professional development is more than just an obligation that needs to be met to maintain your registration. Quality professional development will strengthen your practice and impact positively on student learning. It can reinvigorate and challenge you. It can make you question your assumptions, extend your skills and deepen your understandings.
For more information on the standards, see Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.