Following up on a very successful ipda International Conference

Following up on a very successful ipda International Conference

The recent IPDA conference provided plenty of food for thought. The keynote speakers gave a view on the need for leadership in the field of professional learning. Some spoke of the need to take context and local culture into account. The success of models of CPD do for many need to accommodate contextual and cultural factors. Indeed, there were arguments to suggest that the complexity of working with human beings in a learning and development environment must account for the variables, and the view that what works in one context cannot be applied to another.

Professional learning needs to be led, as opposed to managed. The leadership role is to provide conditions in which creativity, innovation and motivation can thrive nd prosper. The ‘developee’ needs to analyse deficiencies in his/her own practice and to define his/her own goals. There are gaping gaps between policy and practice, and also between institutional development needs and the learning and development aspirations of professionals.

On the other hand, a view was presented, which asserted that we need a theory of professional learning, one which is context free. The thesis is based upon the view that we as CPD providers and researchers need to understand what mental and emotional processes professional must go through to initiate and embed change. The psychology of change, the intrinsic motivators and actions taken to secure new ways of working is necessary to understand.

Parallel paper sessions contained numerous linked themes. Some presentations argued for complex models for CPD, and an understanding of the ‘commissioners’ intended outcomes, individuals’ approaches and a multi-layered understanding of impact. Other presenters showcased programmes, underpinned by theoretical approaches. Some, I attended presented qualitative outcomes of evaluations and small scale research into existing (albeit new) forms of CPD provision and activity.

For me there was much to learn. My mind was set racing, and I felt reassured thatcolleagues Re Bld to devise and deliver research informed approaches to CPD.

So, I have reflected, and I have growing fear that we must not fall into the trap of ‘one shot CPD’ – something we accuse teachers of. We must not sit back in a climate of mutual congratulations. How do we build on the learning? One key note speaker made some recommendations – international comparisons and longitudinal studies for example. We need to take this opportunity to up our game.

We have colleagues abroad, expert providers of CPD from ten countries were present at the conference. Some representatives were requesting support, advice and guidance. We should work together on big projects. We should help to secure funding on a grander scale for collaborative projects.

I am arguing for a research and development approach, for and with colleagues from across the world. We have shared and disseminated ideas and problems, but I think we now need to combine our efforts on a joint ‘enterprise’ as Etienne Wenger would call it. IPDA can broker, support and advise. Ipda members need to be active, to take action. One keynote saw teachers as agents for change. I think we should be. This means breaking out of our institutional roles and moving beyond using ipda to share thoughts , and to improve the provision offered by my university alone. I suggest some action across the membership for the gain of CPD as a whole.

I am seeking responses to this short piece.

  • Who is keen to take on responsibility for some international comparisons?
  • Can we undertake a longitudinal study into how teachers have changed practice following different forms of cpd?
  • Can someone devise a research plan, seek funding and engage with colleagues across IPDA?
  • Let’s organise a series of events aimed at gathering intelligence on how models of cpd emerge, and how we can shape opportunities in the future? Who’s interested? When and where would such events take place.

If I may conclude. I do want to continue the sharing approach we have developed. We do need events around the country and around the world to ‘spread the ipda word’ We also need members to sieize the initiative and kick off some larger, action focussed projects.

Your thoughts will be much appreciated.

Responses (2)

  1. ipda-admin
    December 4, 2014 at 7:37 pm · Reply

    The following may be an opportunity for a group of IPDA members to bid for as a collaborative group:

    Small Research Grants in the Areas of Inquiry
    Value: up to $50,000.
    Deadline: February 5, 2015.
    The Spencer Foundation is offering small research grants for projects on four topics that it believes have fundamental and abiding importance for educational improvement. The topics are: education and social opportunity; organisational learning; purposes and values of education; and teaching, learning and instructional resources. The fund is also open to ‘field-initiated proposals’ for research projects that do not fit easily into the four broad categories. Proposals in this category must address explicitly how the proposed study aligns with the Foundation’s mission of research toward educational improvement. Funding is available to cover staff time on the project (excluding indirect costs) and research expenses.
    Further information:

  2. Helen MItchell
    December 7, 2014 at 10:15 am · Reply

    A very thought provoking and informing conference. All the keynote speakers raised some challenging questions. In particular, the challenge of moving away from linearisation through policy and moving back to natural flow and fluidity in order that risk taking and innovation can be fostered as part of professional behaviour. Marc Vermeulen outlined very well the competing logics that font line professionals have to work with. He also put a good case for arguing that socialisation and qualification, as aims of an education system, are being ousted by a strong and harsh focus on selection as a singular aim. This, he argues is the rationale for leadership outside of management – so that individuals and organisations have the capacity to be responsive and reflexive in their professional thinking and behaviour. Aileen Kennedy argued that the gap between knowledge and practice in education is policy and that the ‘what works’ approach focuses on accountability models of CPD at the expense of those that include theorisation and political considerations. Aileen and Marc both spoke of the cultural move towards more individualistic and secular/rational thinking and the consequences of this for research methodologies and the place of values and beliefs about education and society more broadly. Personally, I think some of this gap could be addressed by including ideology critique in any approach to professional development and educational enquiry. Linda Evans asked the very knotty question of what is actually happening, physiologically, emotionally and cognitively, inside a person when they develop as a teacher. This gave rise to a thought provoking and complex model of understanding how we learn to become teachers and educators. I came away from each of the keynote sessions, and the extended group discussions that followed them wanting to read more from the works of each presenter. In terms of where we could go further at a local level, I am going to explore the opportunities for continuing to work with some of the very fundamental and knotty issues raised by the keynote presenters and to work with colleagues to see how we can shape practice and evaluate in light of them

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