In the second CPD Week to concentrate on cascading information to staff, this issue looks in detail at the methods available to coordinators trying to keep staff up-to-date on essential professional development information

As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.
Benjamin Disraeli

As a CPD coordinator, your role is absolutely essential in keeping staff up-to-date with what’s going on in their world of professional development. This week we take another detailed look at methods for achieving this, to help make sure the staff at your school are as clued up as possible when it comes to furthering their professional learning.

Cascading information…

In a previous issue of CPD Week we took a close look at some of the ways professional learning leaders might best cascade information to all the staff at their school regarding training and development. As the gatekeeper of professional learning in your school, it is your job to present staff with the opportunities they need to enhance the quality of education on offer in your school.

There are many ways in which you can ensure this information gets passed around as efficiently as possible, for example:

  • Gather feedback on the efficiency of the methods you have previously delivered information and find out how staff prefer to receive information
  • Provide regular updates, perhaps in newsletters or e-bulletins
  • Create a high-visibility notice board for CPD
  • Speak in staff meetings
  • Enlist governor support

These steps will kick-start a cycle to your work:

  • Information will flow to you (or you will seek it out).
  • You should then organise it so that it might be of practical use to you and your colleagues.
  • It then needs to be shared out.
  • Finally, it needs to be put to good use.

Breaks in this cycle at any stage could inhibit the rate and quality of professional development at your school.

Being a gatekeeper and cascading information is as much about attitude as it is about practice. These ideas will help you in this role:

  • Definitions – do you know what your personal vision regarding information sharing is? Define exactly how you intend to work in this respect and the rest will follow more easily.
  • Collaboration – this is the key to working in ways which will be of most practical use to your colleagues. Your role as professional learning leader isn’t about power!
  • Innovation – keep developing the management of knowledge and information on professional learning in your school. Do what you’ve always done, and at best, you’ll get what you’ve always got.
  • Strategy – are you hooked in to all the sources of information that you could be? Do you rely on just one or two streams of information or are you constantly on the look out for more, scouring the internet and making full use of local and national contacts?
  • Fairness – most schools, even those deemed good or better, have a comparatively ‘disadvantaged’ group of staff when it comes to professional learning. There are various reasons for this, too complex to go into in this issue, but it is important to know who comes into this group in your school and why. When it comes to professional development, we’re not really interested in equality, but rather, equality of opportunity. Can you claim that this exists in your school? Would your colleagues agree with you?
  • Benefits – does the way in which information flows to staff members benefit them, as users, or does it benefit the providers? There are subtleties involved here. Your school and its staff are your priorities.
  • Transparency – how transparent is the dissemination of information in your school? Again, would colleagues agree with your view on this?
  • Weaknesses – after reading this issue and the issue on this topic in a previous issue of CPD Week are you able to identify, and act upon, any perceived weaknesses in the current practice of sharing information on professional learning in your school?

Taking ownership of the ways in which you choose to feed professional development information to colleagues can help to transform what might once have been a demanding and gritty aspect of the job. In this particular respect, the sharing of information can be as much about process as it is about product and outcome, and by evolving ideas to better reflect the current needs of your school you will be developing your role in an organic, sustainable way. And remember, as far as the dissemination of information on professional learning is concerned, it’s all about you!

This e-bulletin issue was first published in September 2008

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.