British Council Webinar Series: Exploring Continuing Professional Development

The British Council TeachingEnglish (TEBC) Webinar series can be found on the TEBC website. This is the link to Paul’s webinar that took place on the 19th May 2016. This is a summary of that webinar.

TEBC summarises the webinar thus:

“He [Paul] talked about the British Council’s CPD framework for teachers and different factors that can influence successful continuing professional development. This webinar explored some of the ways we can focus on our continuing professional development (CPD). We looked specifically at the British Council’s new CPD framework for teachers, the self-evaluation tool and resources on TeachingEnglish for professional development.”

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This is the quote that Paul Braddock starts us off with, one that is apparently much-used if you look on Google. However, it’s not as universally accepted as Paul thought before he read around it. The quote has been changed in the following way:

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According to Paul, Husbands (2013) argues that what makes the most different to pupils is teaching. All teachers can be better but it’s teaching that improves and develops. Focusing on teaching focuses on more on the need to work continuously to improve the quality of teaching across schools. This is where CPD becomes essential. Especially as teaching changes and the skills needed change over time. What was a good teacher ten years ago might not be a good teacher now. Teaching needs to be develop.

Paul moves on to look at the 7 things that influence positive professional development, based on a report by Walter and Briggs (2012). What 7 things make professional development a positive thing for you?

Professional Development that makes the most difference to teachers is:

  • concrete and classroom-based (looking at what teachers do in the classroom e.g. action research)
  • brings in expertise from outside the school (Potentially expensive but expense can be kept down by use of webinars, online conferences, social media e.g. blogs)
  • involves teachers in the choice of areas to develop and activities to undertake (includes using tools to help you identify your areas for CPD and this is where frameworks come in)
  • enables them to work collaboratively with peers (physically within a context or with an online community of practice – requires time and space!)
  • provides opportunities for mentoring or coaching (again, offline or online includes being a mentor or a coach as well not just being mentored/coached)
  • is sustained over time (an action research cycle with the teacher him/herself as the focus)
  • is supported by school leadership (so the school recognises it’s important despite budget cuts etc.)

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In other words, investment in CPD is useful and worth money.

At this point, Paul introduces the British Council CPD framework:

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It is divided into 12 different aspects of professional practice:

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It is also colour coded by stages of development (Awareness, Understanding, Engagement, Integration). The BC was trying to address the misconception that CPD is linear. This is to be a tool that would more accurately reflect this. It is supposed to empower teachers by providing a framework for them to engage with CPD. Also to be used by groups of teachers for collaboration and cooperation. For more information about each professional practice see the document linked to above. He says it is designed to be flexible and teachers can change/adapt it to better fit their context. The process that you would go through is self-evaluation. The BC are currently developing a self-evaluation tool to help teachers decide which professional practice to focus on. At the integration level, this is where you’d then look at mentoring or coaching.

Next, Paul draws attention to the BC TeachingEnglish website. Within the Teacher Development tab, there is a section for Continuing Professional Development.

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Here, you can find resources linked to each of the professional practices in the CPD framework – articles, blog posts, webinar recordings etc. (Fab! Look forward to exploring this!) The idea is, once you identify areas for your own development, you can use this site as a starting point for research, to support you in your journey. Click on the picture above to visit the page. This is an example of access to outside expertise!

TEBC also already offer out-of-the-box full courses such as Primary Essentials, TKT Essentials, Learning Technologies etc. These run for about 12 weeks, moderated or self-access. They are now thinking about how they can provide training that addresses aspects of the framework more closely. So, they have started to modularise the training, so by next April there will be the option of modules packaged into courses or individual modules you can follow (a module running for about 3hrs of study). This is so that you can bring in some training once you have identified which aspects within the framework that you want to develop.

From the 5th to 9th October, there will be an online conference run by TEBC too. (5th October is World Teacher Day!)

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This CPD-focused conference is being launched to coincide with World Teachers Day.  A date for our diaries! The picture above links to the link shown, for more information. This conference is free and aimed at teachers as well as teacher trainers. It will run from approx. 11 to approx. 4 UK time.

Paul also encourages us to investigate the following names in relation to CPD.

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I’ll stick my neck out here and add Sandy Millin to the list! Her blog has a lot of useful content for developing teachers and also exemplifies reflection/reflective practice.

Here are the links provided by Paul finally:

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NB: You can access the teacher educator framework from the English Agenda website, which is a sister website to TEBC.

It’s clear that a lot of thought and effort has gone into producing all these resources to help teachers develop – the frameworks, the accompanying resource curation on the TEBC website, the modularisation of the training courses that is to come. I certainly look forward to trying out a module without having to commit to a whole course.  The abundance of resources available online for teachers looking to develop never ceases to amaze me and this is no exception. Thank you to the British Council and TEBC for doing their part in enabling this – by no means a small part.

Between discussions in the Teacher Education circle at work and watching IATEFL talk recordings such as the one by Kirsten Holt (courtesy of Macmillan) and the one by Shirley Norton/Karen Chambers (also made possible by the British Council!), I have been doing a lot of thinking about these teaching frameworks including the British Council one, so watching this webinar was the next logical step. I’m currently working on a few ideas of my own as to how teachers can use the British Council framework to develop, which should hopefully complement what’s already out there, so watch this space! 

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British Council ELTons 2014: the speech I *didn’t* make

As everybody who follows this blog (and one or two others who don’t) know, I was nominated/shortlisted for an ELTon this year. I was delighted when I made the long-list back in November – would have been quite satisfied just to have got that far – then thoroughly wowed when I made the short-list in March.

Tonight, thanks to my lovely Dos and my school director, I was able to attend the awards ceremony, along with my M.A. ELT tutor/”product team”, Heather. Prior to the ceremony, all nominees had been emailed to request that we prepare a speech for just in case we should win the award. Well, suffice to say speech-writing didn’t happen, end-of-term report writing (and a million other things) did – but that’s ok, it wasn’t like I was going to actually win or anything… Except, I did. Miraculously enough, I am now an ELTon winner in the category of Macmillan award for new talent in writing. (Thank you, Macmillan and thank you British Council!)

Apparently I won!

Apparently I won!

I was so stunned when they announced me as the winner, that I had to be shown the way to get onto the stage. And then, of course, I was presented with the award (which I can vouch is very solid glass, going by the weight – wouldn’t like to drop it on my toes by mistake…) and asked to say a few words. Rabbit in the headlights comes to mind, but nevertheless I duly made a speech of sorts. Which could be summed up in the following sentence: “I was super lucky because I went to IATEFL a couple of years ago, found a flyer in my conference pack and as a result wound up at Leeds Met, where my materials were born” I clean forgot that one is supposed to thank every man and his dog on such occasions – and it’s not like I’m without people to thank. Fortunately, I have a blog, so now I’m going to write the speech I should have said! (Though I think what I said was a good start…)

“I’m standing here (now a figurative here!) tonight because of a flyer. Two years ago, I went to the IATEFL conference in Glasgow and I found a flyer in my bag. It was the flyer for Leeds Metropolitan Uni, where I would go on to do my M.A. in ELT. It wasn’t a decision taken lightly – it was a risk. But sometimes, taking risks pays huge dividends. I didn’t know Leeds Met. I didn’t know that I would find the best tutors (thank you all!) and course-mates (thank you too!) I could ever have hoped to have there. I stepped into the unknown – and got super-lucky. I’m mostly here tonight because I’m lucky…

My biggest thanks has to go to Heather Buchanan, course leader of the M.A. ELT/Delta at Leeds Met, from whom I learnt so much during the materials development module, and who gave me so many hours of her time and so much support throughout the course and especially while I was creating these dissertation materials (and trying to decide how to answer the awkward questions she asked me about them on a regular basis!). Also, for not letting me bin them halfway through the summer when I had decided they were rubbish and I’d be better off starting again! Thank you for everything, Heather. 🙂

Secondly, I must thank Sandy Millin, who I met thanks to Twitter and #ELTchat and who has been a massive source of inspiration to me ever since. If it weren’t for her, my materials would be twice as long as they currently are, as the instructions would all be epically long, rambling nightmares. One weekend, Sandy eventually managed to just about beat the habit of using ten words where three would do out of me, as well showing me a wonderful world of computer shortcuts that made my life (well, using Indesign and MS Word) a lot easier, during a rather trying several months! Thank you so much, Sandy! 🙂

Thirdly, a big thank you is also due to Jane Templeton, one of my course mates at Leeds Met. She had the unenviable task of putting up with my regular whinging about the D-beast. (On the plus side, she got to moan about her assignments to me too, though!) Seriously, though, things are made so much easier by the support of others who know what you’re going through, so you can cuss together over a glass of wine! Thank you, Jane! 🙂

Finally, though they only came into my life after the big project was complete, I want to thank my current employers and colleagues. I work in a fantastic school, with really supportive people around me and that is invaluable. Currently, it is the busiest time of the year at IH Palermo, but my DoS let me attend the ceremony tonight nevertheless and has been so very supportive of me in every way, while my colleagues have, between them, covered the classes I will be missing as a result. Thank you Jonny, Pat and Silvio, and everybody else at IH Palermo. I’m very glad to be going back for another contract after the summer!

I’m also here because my Grandad left me some money when he died, and it was that money that I used to pay for my course at Leeds Met. He was an amazing man, who lived an amazing life and I wish he were able to see what a difference he’s made to my life. My M.A. ELT/Delta year was life-changing in so many ways. And this ELTon award is one of the wonderful outcomes of it.

I’m delighted to accept the award (yep, still delighted!) and (still pretty much as) stunned (as I was when I stumbled onto the stage this evening). Thank you everybody.”  Fortunately I hadn’t prepared a speech so the audience didn’t have to sit through this when I was unleashed on the microphone. 😉

It’s been a crazy journey getting to this point, and I look forward with interest to the next stage. Meanwhile, it was a brilliant experience being at the ELTons ceremony tonight, albeit rather surreal for a little nobody like me! 🙂 My warmest congratulations to all the other winners in all the other categories!

And now, 20hrs after I woke up in Palermo this morning, goodnight world! 🙂