Tags: CPD | CPD Coordinator

Shaun Allison couldn’t find a good discussion forum for CPD leaders – so he set one up himself.

There is no doubt that the internet has revolutionised the way we communicate with people from all over the world. As CPD leaders this is a key part of our role – communicating with others, in order to collect their good ideas, take them back to school and share them with colleagues. Alongside this, we should also be encouraging our colleagues at school to do the same. Pockets of excellent teaching, exist in many classrooms, in all schools, the world over. The doors to these classrooms should now be opened up, in a global sense, thanks to the internet, for all to peek inside and say ‘oh, what a good idea!’, shouldn’t they?

As an avid user of the internet, I am aware that there are discussion forums for just about everything. When I put ‘teacher CPD forum’ into my Google search bar, I come up with 137,000 search results. Bingo! What a fantastic resource. Instead of having to wait for a CPD Leaders Conference or CPD network meeting to share good CPD practice with colleagues, I can now do it online. Furthermore, I can reach out to schools beyond my county and even beyond the United Kingdom.

So, I start looking through some of the search results. My excitement begins to wane – rapidly. There are a number of teacher related discussion forums, although not a huge number. Those that do exist are fairly general and many are not very well used.

Clearly, the most well used is the TES Staffroom. There is much excellent discussion going on there, about a huge range of useful topics. This is, of course, great CPD in itself. Two other fairly well used forums are the ‘Teachers Talk’ forum and ‘The Grapevine’. Again, though, these are both used for general teaching-related chat.

A place for CPD leaders

So, there didn’t seem to be a discussion forum out there, whose sole focus was that of CPD – in terms of supporting CPD leaders in schools. Or if there was, I couldn’t find it. So with this apparent gap in the educational internet forum market, I set one up. The name of the forum is ‘The CPD for Teachers Forum’.

My vision for this forum is that it will become a place where CPD leaders can discuss strategies they have used in their schools, share best practice and seek guidance and support from colleagues the world over. Categories include:

  • coaching
  • action research
  • training courses
  • mentoring.

Other categories can be added as they are suggested. There is also a section where colleagues can outline particular CPD projects that they have set up in their own schools and then evaluate their effectiveness. Useful links can also be shared on the site.

I am convinced that this has the potential to become a hugely useful resource not only for CPD leaders but all teachers. Why?

  • It offers a way of sharing ideas with colleagues at any time and any place – no need to wait for conferences or meetings
  • It won’t take you out of school!
  • It provides the opportunity to discuss initiatives with international colleagues to get a different perspective – a quick internet scan suggests that teachers in the USA are further down the path with initiatives such as action research and learning walks than many UK schools.
  • It may well facilitate the establishment of local/regional collaborative networks.
  • It is independent from any organisation/establishment!
  • It will provide us as CPD leaders with the opportunity to ‘ask an expert’

There is a ‘but’ though! The forum will only fulfil its potential as this hugely powerful resource for CPD leaders if colleagues register on the forum (which is, of course free and very quick and easy to do) and then start using it on a regular basis. It always give me a warm glow when I go away from a meeting with a good idea that a colleague from another school has shared, that I can then take back to my own school. No matter how small. Why only get that two or three times a year when you could get it every day?

So, as somebody who is committed to their own CPD and that of others (why else would you be reading this journal?), I urge you to:

  • visit the site now – www.miumu.com
  • register
  • make a post – don’t be shy!

Please feel free to email with your suggestions for the forum ([email protected]).

See you there!

Editor’s comment: electronic travel broadens the mind

Shaun Allison has written for us before on the subject of sharing good practice. This time he intends to get us interested in being interested. It is taking time for us to begin to use the potential of the internet to develop professional voice. Mostly teachers seem to use the internet in order to find out how to do better what they are required to do. This forms part of what he is suggesting. But perhaps the most important word that he uses is ‘perspective’. They say that travel broadens the mind. Well, electronic travel is a good substitute for the real thing. And it costs less.

Elsewhere in this issue I refer to the government’s notion of a ‘New Professionalism’ in order to make the point that this is not something teachers and related professionals should sit waiting to happen to them. Opportunities to develop a critical professional voice should be taken.

References

TES Staffroom
www.tes.co.uk/section/staffroom

Teachers Talk forum
www.teacherstalk.co.uk

The Grapevine
www.tgv.org.uk

CPD for Teachers Forum
www.miumu.com

This article first appeared in CPD Update – Mar 2006

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