Professional Development - Teachers Can Do it For Themselves...

Some employers fear that by investing in teacher development they are merely grooming a teacher to move on to a better job elsewhere. Well yes, the profession is pretty fluid and, frankly, teacher movement will happen anyway. What's far more important is that your school gains a reputation for professional, up-to-date teaching, so you can't afford to let your staff stagnate. But it doesn't have to cost the earth. You can start by looking at the talent under your nose.

You have a qualified Director of Studies and a team of enthusiastic teachers. So let professional development begin at home. If you can allocate a couple of hours per week for a teachers' meeting then that's all you need. The rest is up to them.

Get the D.O.S. to circulate a questionnaire about what topics each teacher would like to have a session on. Find out which teachers could lead sessions. Talk quality circles. Talk empowerment. Talk Action Research. Let the teachers come up with their own professional development program for starters. After all, they know the school, the students-and they will be able to identify their own strengths and weaknesses. A development program generated by and for your teachers will be of far greater long-term benefit than a guest appearance by an outside expert who just delivers a lecture and goes on to the next venue.

To gain an overview of how teachers can lead their own self-development read this article on Action Research at:

http://www.philseflsupport.com/actionlearning.htm

To participate in an email Action Research project see:

http://www.scu.edu.au/schools/gcm/ar/areol/areolind.html

For a more informal approach read this article on "reflective teaching" at:

http://www.tttjournal.co.uk/back33.htm

By Patricia Dean