The final talks of the IATEFL annual conference in Harrogate are finishing as I write. The one I was in finished early, which gives me a few minutes to write a very quick review and summary of what I heard.
The talk was by Anthony Gaughan on Continuing Professional Development (“The place is here and the time is now”).
Actually, I think the point Anthony made was a very good one, and it was a great note to finish the conference with. Nonetheless, in my view, the roundabout, pre-scripted and metaphor-heavy way of getting to the point was not really necessary. Still, the message to take away from his talk, and indeed something to think about as the conference comes to a close is this: We (teachers) should not fall into the trap of thinking that professional development is something that can only happen somewhere remote, somewhere other than in our daily teaching environment. In fact, as Anthony reminded us, we often underestimate the everyday learning experiences, seeing them as somehow inferior to formalised, planned, officially ‘accepted’ forms of development, where we are often rewarded with a certificate. In fact, there is apparently research which shows that these unplanned everyday learning experiences often lead to more definite and ongoing development than things like conferences, courses, etc. We need to remember, we can develop as teachers within our classrooms! Sometimes it may be hard to see the potential for development and learning, but Anthony has reminded us to be aware and become aware of these opportunities.
So, although I was unconvinced as I sat in a story-time-like presentation at first, the message I’m taking away to share is a valuable one. So thanks Anthony, for leaving us with this very apt conference-closing impetus to continue to develop, even once we’re back grinding our our daily grind!
The script for Anthony’s talk: http://teachertrainingunplugged.com/talks-interviews/the-place-is-here-and-the-time-is-now/