Professional Development in a Changed World
For my first in a series of monthly Blogs, I want to focus on Professional Development. It is something most of us I believe have thought about more since the beginning of the global pandemic, as it has had a far-reaching impact on Education around the world, however more importantly to most on a personal level.
Depending on what sector you work in as an Education professional you will, or indeed may have been impacted to varying degrees, however, one thing is for sure it has most likely awoken you to thinking more pro-actively about your own professional development in today’s uncertain environment.
Now we all know that being a professional means more than just following regulations, rules, policies and procedures, following the mission and vision of your organisation and adhering to your contract, but do you know that we also need to consider being a dual professional e.g., keeping up to date with knowledge, skills and developments in your subject area, as well as those relating to teaching, learning and assessment. Professionalism is no doubt very important, but it is dual professionalism that I want to focus on in this piece.
From a personal perspective, I have always strived to stay ‘ahead of the game’ when deciding and completing professional development activities. What I mean by ahead of the game is ensuring that I am more or at least on an equal footing, as competent and current as of the next person if applying for a new position or promotion. I find the key is to research, find out exactly what is needed for that particular role, e.g., check job specifications of roles that you aspire to do and work hard towards those goals using a logical process. The SMART method for planning your activities is a fantastic tool (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound), one to research!
You should of course base Professional Development on reflection which will, in turn, influence your choice of objectives, whether on a personal or work level. Tailoring your activities may come from the career path you have chosen, interests or indeed mandatory requirements, by and large though, the end results need to be of relevance and of value to you as an individual.
So now that we’ve decided what to do, how can we do it. As alluded to at the start of this piece, the remote world we have found ourselves in has given us opportunities to complete professional development activities on forums and platforms not considered seriously before by some sectors. My own sector knowledge and practice span several areas which include Education and Training, Security, Health and Safety, First Aid and Quality – all of which have embraced (some more than others admittedly) the virtual learning environment to such an extent that Continued Professional Development and accredited qualification opportunities now exist and can be completed by those who wish too, which can only be seen as fantastic progress in those who wish to see learning for all.
In terms of my own experiences, I carried out a number of CPD activities during these past 12 months, some of which I had planned prior to this but others undertook and influenced by what I perceived the future would hold at that time for me. Due to additional time now on my hands, I decided to take action and work on ‘projects’ I had always wanted to do but just never got around to them. I am fortunate enough to hold a number of professional memberships of several organisations which influence policy and practice within the sectors I am active in. A major part of my planning was to utilise whatever skills and work-based evidence I had achieved to date and use these to progress higher within the member levels within these professional organisations. This can be a laborious exercise, but one ultimately that can be extremely valuable in terms of personal growth and help create further opportunities. I also managed to join committees and attend online workshops during this time which give me a fantastic opportunity to develop professional relationships and increase understanding within the various sectors.
Planning is critical, yes, I know that plans need to be fluid, however, having short-, medium- and long-term goals is vital if you want to ‘stay ahead of the game’ and allow yourself to realise your potential.
Just to finish on, one of my favourite quotes,
"Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow."
Anthony J. D'Angelo
Mark Bresland, Training Manager, The eLearning Network.