So the Learning and Teaching conference season is kicking off which makes it a good time to talk Continuing Professional Development (CPD). CPD is a really significant part of your fellowship claim and a way to demonstrate how you are keeping abreast with sector challenges, evidence-based practice and pedagogical conversations (think A5 and most of the core knowledge in the Professional Standards Framework). Within the fellowship submission there is an opportunity to reflect how you have reinvested learning from CPD encounters back into your practice. There will be few face to face CPD opportunities this year. Whilst virtual CPD is opening up a wider menu of opportunities, we might need to tune in a little differently and soup up our powers of reflection to make it count. So here are some thoughts about collecting the shiny things to take back to our learning and teaching nest.
There’s a danger that reflection is perceived only as a retrospective activity. Whilst there are numerous models of reflection many agree that the key to increasing the chance of practice change is the final “so what?” step to close the loop. But there is also an argument to make reflection a concurrent activity, i.e. reducing the time lag or gap between engaging in CPD, applying learning to ones own practice and making future plans. Then of course continuing to capture how this learning has made a difference to your practice in such a way that can be used to “cash in” for your fellowship claim.
Here’s our Magpie Recommendations
- Buddying up for reflection- reflecting as a team or with a colleague can really help untangle learning and it is more likely that this learning is integrated into practice with a shared purpose (and someone who can give you a friendly nudge if you have stalled in taking things forward);
- Schedule the post-mortem- after CPD events it is easy to step back into your day job and the enthusiasm wanes along with the train of thought you had during the conference. The conference rear view mirror was something I previously explored here. Think about the immediate future and then perhaps a follow-up 3 months down the line- what have you actioned, trialled or adopted? Do write this down as this material will be useful when building a fellowship claim and reflecting on how you are responding to A5;
- Screen fatigue will be a real issue in virtual conference attendance- how can you take an active break and consolidate learning whilst listening? Some advocate sketch-noting. Some great tips from Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth) here; Using the Snipping Tool to build up a conference mood board- maybe via Jamboard– do this as a team and then you have also hit the first point about collaborative reflection?
- There won’t be a coffee line so how are you going to replicate those important serendipitous moments with other delegates? Check out the delegate list and make a plan for connecting. What back-channels are the conference organisers offering- if nothing offered what could you set up e.g. a virtual coffee lounge or how about suggesting Randomised Coffee Trial? Sue Beckingham (@suebecks) provides some ideas about social media for conference learning here;
- Translate ideas into tangible actions. Better still action whilst participating e.g. email a colleague with a brief synopsis of what you are hearing about and book in a time to hatch a plan. Have your MSTeams channels open and post thoughts in there to colleagues- thanks Rose for that idea (@rosepear) and sharing how you use OneNote as a kind of scrapbook for all bits and pieces. Rose likes to paste in screenshots, write in thoughts, or embed videos and other media mentioned in the meeting chat to refer to later. It also has a section and page navigation, so it’s easy to organise everything over a long period of time.
- Learn aloud- How about a blog straight after your conference session which presents some initial thoughts and gut reactions to the ideas discussed. Capture your thinking on the hoof, as you listen and engage. Here’s a sheet that we have created for the plenary we will be facilitating at The University of Hull’s Teaching Excellence Academy 2021 Conference
Whatever CPD opportunities you engage in you will be in a better position to reinvest this learning back into your practice if you are purposeful in how you catalogue, reflect and apply what you hear. Happy collecting L&T Magpies!