When it comes to continuous professional development or CPD, sometimes it is difficult to decide what exactly you want and need. The choice is vast: trendy conferences, numerous webinars, workshops on every possible aspect of language teaching and learning. Some colleagues keep telling me that CELTA is the best that can happen to a teacher. Others recommend TKT, CELT-S, TOEFL, none of that as it’s a waste of time and money… How not to get crazy while planning your CPD? Today’s article will try to help.
- Be in the know
To be able to make the best choice, you need to know the options first. Most of the Cambridge CPD courses are well-known to teachers all over the world. However, there are tons of other things that might come in handy. Subscribe to the newsletters of publishing houses like Pearson or Macmillan, find a teachers’ community online or start following a couple of ELT bloggers. This will keep you updated on interesting and useful opportunities.
2. Choose wisely
It can seem that there is more supply than demand in terms of trainings. Language schools provide CPD guidance, bloggers sell guides and webinars, new courses keep appearing. Before you set your mind to one of them, think carefully. Will the course you are going to take fit your teaching context? Do you really need this workshop on how to teach phonics if you mainly work with adult groups? Do you really have problems with classroom management or you want this webinar because a famous blogger is promoting it? Sometimes we make our CPD decisions on the spur of the moment. Make sure this is not the case for you.
3. Check the trustworthiness
Another good idea is checking the quality of the course. If it is something less known, make sure you’ve read through the feedback of the people who have already attended the webinar or the workshop. Ask questions to the creator of the course. Google for reviews. It might help you get good quality content and make your CPD journey truly useful.
4. Plan well
Think of your schedule. Which month is the busiest? What days do you teach most lessons on? What other responsibilities do you have? Are you a morning person or a night owl? To pass the course effectively, you will need to take the answers into account. Plan massive CPD events for summer, if you are free and can spend time learning. Make sure you’ll have enough time and energy to participate in one more course or training.
5. Watch live
Has it ever happened to you: you buy a webinar, check that there will be a recording, get the access…and never watch it? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Having a recording of something makes our brain put a tick in the ‘Completed’ box. This is understandable, as we have to tackle constant information overload. Not to spend your money in vain, try to attend the live thing. It will help you feel guilt-free later. Also, you can ask some questions and probably spend time in nice company.
6. Put it into practice
As soon as you’ve learnt something new, bring it to your classroom. Try out fresh methods and techniques, share your findings with colleagues, experiment with new activities. The sooner you do that, the more practical use you’ll get.
- Don’t overdo
FOMO, the fear of missing out, is real. Teachers tend to start every course possible because they think, one way or another, it will be useful for them. However, if you have too much on your plate, you are likely to leave some things unfinished, exhaust yourself or just never use the things you’ve covered.
2. Don’t be afraid to ignore the trends
Everyone knows about CELTA and Delta. It’s good to have one. However, it might just not be your priority right now and that’s OK. Sometimes a quick workshop can solve your problem way better than a trendy course.
3. Don’t hunt for certificates only
CPD is not only about certificates, even though it’s always great to kill two birds with one stone. Sometimes though people might refuse to take a great course or attend a super useful conference because there is no certificate to be given. Try not to assess the usefulness of the course by the document it provides you — or not. Otherwise, you might end up collecting papers, not knowledge and skills.
What are some of the insights you’ve had during your CPD journey? And what are your personal dos and don’ts to share?