I’m fortunate to be working in a school that recognizes the needs of teachers for Continuous Professional Development I have attended workshops and seminars in the past, and have always gone back to school feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the world. However, the feeling was fleeting. I would remember two strategies from the workshop and forgot the rest that I’ve learned. I also didn’t get the chance to share my learning with my colleagues because of the busy schedule that we have.
After reading the module, I learned that there are different elements of CPD. It’s embarrassing but I think that I was only experiencing the retooling and remodeling kind. I think that the success of this relies first on the leaders in creating an effective system that will make CPD beneficial to each and all. Although there are some teachers in my school who are interested to grow and learn more, there are some who just take advantage of the stipend being provided and go see a new place or country. I don’t think this is quite working well and through teachers’ reflective practice, this issue should come up.
We also have a professional learning community. Last year, our principals intentionally ensured that there are common planning and meeting times for teams. Because of this, we were able to achieve a lot. I noticed that we were more collaborative and engaged in the discussions. However, since there was a drastic change in schedule this year, we rarely met as a team. The collaboration became shallow to the point that the phrase was “This is what I will do” has been a norm. We used to talk about, what do the students need? What’s the best approach? How can we optimize the learning of a particular content? We were collectively reflecting and planning.
I realized that supportive leaders are one of the keys to an effective professional learning community. If we have leaders who don’t understand the kind of work that we do, it’s easy for them to change the system that have been implemented to suit what they think is right. Without involving teachers in the decision-making, things could go down the drain. Teachers will feel unvalued and will not be willing to collaborate. This is what happened in my school.
It’s also important to have shared vision and values. If we are not working towards the same goal, then there will be a lot of misunderstanding and confusion. Apparently, our values were different from our leader and so our learning community disintegrated. Teachers have left because they didn’t feel that they’re still growing as before and I can’t blame them.
I really hope that the next set of leaders will see how important our learning community is. Next month is a new school year and I’m hopeful that we could get better. It starts in each one of us. We have to create a positive culture, a culture for learning and a sincere desire to improve student learning. After all, they’re the real reason why we do what we do. We should never forget that.