Saturday, December 13

5 Ways The Malaysian Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Course Can Improve

I'm not an expert but ah....
   This is an honest review from a thinking professional who has been in the profession for more than 5 years & already continuously improving himself via reading books/magazines/websites, reflecting & attending courses/training/conferences/symposiums. I have also shared my development through writing blogs/articles & giving talks/speeches/workshops to teachers/students.

   The fruits of all of that personal/professional growth is documented in this blog. I urge you to to skim/browse its archives & see for yourself if I am a credible commentator/stakeholder before you continue reading.

   I wrote this post not as a condemnation. I want to pool ideas to help make it better & I believe there can be a more effective use of tax payer funds & valuable time of education professionals. I have written down the same views & suggestions expressed in this blog post on the feedback forms I filled at the end of the course; of which I hope will be given due consideration.

   I truly admire promoting the spirit of autonomous continuous personal professional development in educators. Studies have shown that PD courses increase teacher efficacy & student scores. It doesn't take a genius to see how the nation will benefit when there are more effective individuals serving as role models to the new generation in an fluidly evolving modern world. The MoE hit the nail on the head by having BPG initiate the CPD course.

   However, having heard unfavourable reviews from more intelligent peers & having gone through the course myself at the end of last year, I'm afraid that the best intentions do not guarantee the best outcomes. Here are my ideas of what worked & what can be improved.

Strengths: Excellent Guest Speakers

   I think that the lecturers invited from IPG Batu Lintang were top class. They had a lot of professional experience to draw from & they were wholeheartedly enthusiastic which totally influenced us to reciprocate. Some of them were experts in the subject matter of which they were invited to lecture on.

Strengths: Group Work

   The course was basically = lecture + workshop + group presentation. Throughout the course we were given lots of group work to discuss & come up with something from what we have just listened too. This helps in memory retention & digestion/clarification of what was learnt.

Suggestions: Make Objectives Clear

   I attended the course & was informed that it was supposed to make us better educators. However, I left the course without gaining/learning much & so did many others. If the objective of the course was to be a refresher on what we learned in the IPGs; i.e. government policies, lesson plans, 21st century approaches, action research, etc. Then, say so in the beginning & in the title of the course.

   From the title & the briefing, I expected the course contents to be more relevant to my practice in the classroom; i.e. latest research on child psychology, brain development, ideas which work, how to reach problem children, classroom management gems, statistics of our ministry's performance, grand plans of the ministry, where teachers fit into those plans, etc.

   Also, teachers need to know how to handle situations where students may be even better at the subject matter than the teachers. How about when students are so weak, you have to go to the very basics of a subject, how will teachers handle themselves then? All these are relevant situations not addressed in the course.

   Therefore, you can see why I came out of the 5 day course disappointed at how little I have learned.

Suggestions: Physical Activity/Mind Games

   I spent a majority of my time at the course sitting on my bum. I have no problems with listening but, after doing it day & night for a few days, I think an occasional change in the activity will do us a lot of good. Outdoor activities or physical activities build our character &, with the implementation of a few Mind Games, we can sweat & also discover more about ourselves; i.e. strengths & weaknesses.

Suggestions: Best Practices

   How can I be a better teacher? The fastest way is to learn from those who are already doing something good. In other words, mentoring/sharing of best practices.

   Bring in the best teachers in the region. Let them share their work to those teaching the same subjects & monitor a micro teaching session. This will give them some recognition & also give us something we can use in the classroom that has worked for someone else.

Suggestions: Social Skills & Leadership Coaching

   Teaching is a social enterprise. Teachers need to have good social skills to win over their students. Gone are the days students come to school to learn. Students arrive at schools with a load of baggage which hinders their concentration. Teachers need to know how to manage their students & how to find out what makes each student tick.

   Some teachers lack social skills & leadership skills. Many teachers lack CONFIDENCE. A course which is able to coach them on these skills & provide them with feedback in an actual setting, will go a long way in making them super effective in the classroom & in life.

Suggestions: Follow Up

   There is no follow up. All we had to do was attend. I didn't have to do better after the course. Neither am I accountable for continuously developing myself. Perhaps there can be some sort of follow up? Perhaps teachers can contribute to a forum or blog or whatever.

   And mind you, I will be pissed off if the follow up involves paperwork. Even a monkey can come up with a piece of paper with flowery words & fake pictures from Google which nobody will bother to read. Challenge us to do better. Make us think out of the box. Give us that extra boost in spirit.

Conclusion

   If a decision maker thinks that by attending a CPD course, teachers will become autonomous lifelong learners or competent teachers, they are clearly being mislead. Attendance is COMPULSORY lest I be disqualified for promotion. People will attend NOT because they want to LEARN. They attend because they don't want to be PUNISHED.

   I understand that this course is still in the pilot stage. It is my sincere hope that BPG will make the course so good that people will climb over each other to attend it. People will gain lifelong lessons from it. People will be moved to action because of it.

   Contract corporate coaches as consultants if you will. Such an ambitious course has to live up to its name & the millions paid to run it. Considering the sad review of our teacher competency in the World Bank report, the future of our country actually depends on it.

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