Thought it would be useful to share some insights from the ‘kickstarter’ workshops for the PD pilot studies that have just gotten underway this week with a wide variety of professional identity groups, shown below:
Over 16th and 17th January, we visited NUIG, UL and LIT as part of the series of regional workshops, and received a very warm welcome in each! Across the following weeks, we visited DKIT, Griffith College, RCSI, DBS, IT Tralee, NUI Maynooth and CIT.
We took some photographs of each of our visits:
We are currently drawing together a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) resource based on the areas of inquiry that emerged from the Kickstarter workshops, and will be making this available online shortly. But for now, just wanted to share some of the areas that participants were keen to hear more about, and these are captured below.
Q: What will the output of the pilot study process look like?
A: A Professional Development Portfolio (PDP)
It can be important to see teacher professional development efforts as a process that takes place over time, and which lets them actively identify and work towards their learning needs. In that sense, it is important to view the PD framework for long-term integration into an individual’s professional practice. It can empower teachers by allowing them to form a comprehensive plan that accommodates time for new learning as well as professional experimentation, personal reflection, and collaboration around new practices.
It aims to allow staff to evidence their values, knowledge and practices in terms of being an effective practitioner as well as motivate them to maintain and build on this level of commitment to their role of supporting learning by encouraging further development, learning and scholarly practice. Ultimately, the PD framework is designed to support both staff who have a teaching role in the early stage of their career as well as those in mid to late stages of their careers in higher education.
Q: What constitutes EVIDENCE in the PDP?
A: We recommend that this will require thought, consideration and planning by all individuals in the pilot studies. When teachers participate and engage in professional development opportunities within their department, centre, institution or beyond, they generally should leave their development sessions with insights, strategies and tools that they can use. These can take many forms and all can be used as evidence. A blend of reflection, associated evidence and future goal planning forms the focus of the PDP.
The Support Sessions in the Pilot Studies will consider what can be involved in the collation of such evidence, considering whether there are existing materials which might be drawn on to supplement your reflections, or how to plan a way, upfront, to collate your engagement evidence (perhaps an email from colleagues, fellow stakeholders in projects, or a testimonial from a student, just to name a few) may help to make the process a little more efficient. We will be highlighting that is can be useful to view this as an opportunity for your PD journey and to sue it to build in a credible, authentic and achievable PDP. You will have a chance in the localized and negotiated support sessions in the pilot studies to be mentored by a member of our PD Expert Advisory group and a pilot co-ordinator.
How much TIME will be involved?
Time is always a challenge for staff who have a teaching role, both in finding the time to communicate and engage in PD, and then additionally to consider and reflect on any impact from that work. However, putting in some ground work in these pilot studies can pay dividends in the longer run! As successful professional development is widely regarded as a regular and ongoing activity, we would recommend the need to proactively carve out the time necessary for meaningful engagement in the process.
Why should I use it?
This Professional Development Framework is being piloted across the HE sector with 23 different target groups/professional identities. It is designed to help individuals with their personal and professional development by taking control of their PD journey, whether this is with the view of changing jobs through a sideways or upwards move, or of getting a greater sense of satisfaction from an existing role. You can focus on just one aspect of your teaching practice e.g. research supervision, work placement co-ordination, programme design, classroom practice, or you can use the 5 domains in the PDF to take a wider look at a blend of professional activities.
Based on these questions, aspects that we want to emphasize at this early stage to the pilot study participants are the importance of:
- Choice – Teachers, like students, need and appreciate choice. Choice within the framework allows teachers to determine their personal priorities in relation to their PD journey.
- Flexibility – In addition to choice, teachers need to be allowed to make decisions about how any new learning and engagement in PD informs their own PD journey.
- Small Steps – Professional development is incremental. It takes time to change practice and to be lasting it must become a part of the teacher’s routine. Professional development for teachers that allows them to practice, in small steps, supports this idea.
- Support – Change is challenging and requires a clear support strategy. The pilot studies have been designed to develop a community approach to provide teachers the opportunity to develop personal action plans, report back to the group about the challenges and successes they have had in their PD journey to date, reflect and receive feedback (support) from colleagues who are working on the same changes in practice. To this end, an online learning community space will be made available to all those participating in the pilot studies around the country to share their experiences of engaging with the PDF, inclusive of discipline, role, and institution.
Where else can I get more information?
The following weblink takes you to the NF Professional Development Framework page which will provide you with more information about the national PDF and its professional domains and elements: https://www.teachingandlearning.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/PD-Framework-FINAL.pdf