It is true that CPD needs to be reflective and designed to improve an individual’s attributes, knowledge, understanding and skills. There are several reasons why this is true. Firstly, a good CPD program will include “discussions with colleagues or pupils to reflect on working practices.” (TDA-CPD Guidance, 2013) Such a reflection at the outset will help measure its relevance to the participants. Next, it will also help denote learning objectives and design apt teaching strategies toward attaining those objectives. Just as reflective activity is integral to CPD during the event, it is also important afterwards. Herein, participants “may need time to reflect on what they have learnt and what the impact may be – this could be on their own or with others. Colleagues or children and young people in the school may be able to play a part in this collaborative reflection.” (TDA-CPD Guidance, 2013) Hence it is clear why reflective activity is a crucial part of CPD.
The definition of CPD given in the title identifies four key objectives of reflective activity, namely, improving the participant’s attributes, knowledge, understanding and skills. This is a well rounded goal-set for enhancing the experience of professional practice. With strong knowledge and understanding, the professional lays the foundation for acquiring attributes and skills. In my view, one of the ways in which CPD could be incentivized is by making it focussed, relevant and interesting. When school administrators attempt to create preparation programs for school leaders, they should “include experiences that enable aspiring principals to successfully plan and implement professional development that has the potential to improve and enhance skills teachers need to provide effective instruction.” (Casey, Starrett, & Dunlap, 2013)
According to the definition of CPD given above, reflective activity is meant to produce improvements in both theoretical and practical aspects of a professional’s overall competence. One of the best methods of achieving this is through hands-on, field-based experiences. Internships, problem solving exercises, as well as case studies are also effective methods. As trainees reflect on their projects and fieldwork based on their own professional dispositions, they fortify their basic skills and also widen their knowledgebase. In the context of teacher education, there is consensus among educators that a robust CPD program will include: “(a) a strong content focus; (b) active learning opportunities (e.g., coaching, observation, feedback); (c) structures for collective participation; (d) coherence with teachers’ knowledge and beliefs and aligned to curriculum and standards for teacher performance; and (e) sufficient duration.” (Dingle et. al, 2011)
To conclude, in my evaluation, the above definition of CPD is fairly accurate. Upon reflection, the view that education ends with the obtaining a college degree is a misplaced idea. Most successful professionals actually acquire most of their knowledge through practice. It is on-the-job training and exposure that shapes a professional’s competence and skills. And reflective activity is an integral feature of all successful CPD programs. Here, the professional seeks to improve certain attributes and areas of knowledge based on his own interests.
* Casey, P. J., Starrett, T. M., & Dunlap, K. (2013). Residual Effects of a Professional Development Project for Aspiring School Leaders. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, 17(2), 81+. Print.
* Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Guidance. Training and Development Agency for Schools, London. 2013. Print.
* Dingle, M. P., Brownell, M. T., Leko, M. M., Boardman, A. G., & Haager, D. (2011). Developing Effective Special Education Reading Teachers: The Influence of Professional Development, Context, and Individual Qualities.Learning Disability Quarterly, 34(1), 87+. Print.