What is Teacher Professional Development?
Professional development is the foundation for any company that wants to grow and achieve greater outcomes: improving skills and knowledge directly leads to higher motivation, confidence, and efficiency.
This is no different for teachers.
Teacher Professional Development, or TPD, is ‘a systemic change in educational content and methods, delivered through comprehensive, coordinated programmes that focus on teaching and learning, with the objective of changing classroom practices to ensure that every child learns.’ *(Chakera, Haffner and Harrop: 2020)
*Chakera, S., Haffner, D., & Harrop, E. (2020) ‘Structured pedagogy: For Real-Time Equitable Improvements In Learning Outcomes’ United Nations Children’s Fund [UNICEF] Eastern and Southern Africa working paper. Volume 2. Nairobi, Kenya: UNICEF.
Why is TPD important?
Without access to ever-developing research and trends about ideas of teaching and learning (otherwise known as ‘pedagogy’), the capacities of teachers – and all those involved in educating others – is limited.
By limiting our teachers worldwide, we are limiting their learners, and further fuelling Learning Poverty – something the Commonwealth Education Trust is fighting to eradicate.
What access to TPD have teachers had in under resourced countries?
Teacher training has not evolved for many years, with an emphasis on teachers delivering content from a textbook, and learners repeating this back. Often, teachers have no training at all – unlike the UK, where qualified teachers study for a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education). There may be awareness of strategies (such as formative assessment), but no confidence in how to use them to progress learning.
National curriculums can be dense, with teachers moving at an unrealistic pace for pupils and conditions. There is reliance on regular examinations but results only judge performance, not on guiding learners with next steps.
Importantly, there is not always the culture of self-reflection and personal responsibility for continuing to learn and develop: having a growth mindset is a sign of weakness, so TPD is often avoided.
Any TPD required by a Ministry of Education is often not available. Workshops can be expensive, and the face-to-face nature means they require travel; schools rarely have enough money. For teachers earning as little as $150 a month – sometimes less – they just do not have the money to pay for their own TPD.
Why are we providing digital TPD?
The number of those in under resourced countries owning a pay-as-you-go smartphone is increasing. Currently, 66% of the world’s population now have access to the internet. Smartphones are therefore the easiest, cheapest, and most convenient way for teachers to access TPD on a regular and long-term basis.
Digital TPD can reach anyone worldwide, no matter how remote their location.
This enables teachers to engage more frequently and actively with content; as it can be re-visited, or paused, for note taking. As teachers control their speed of learning, they progress through courses at their own rate. This ownership promotes independent learning and autonomy, along with greater privacy and confidence. This eliminates the fear of being perceived ‘weak’ by leadership.
Digital TPD can also be completed on school premises in a whole-school approach on computers. It is a truly blended learning opportunity, where teachers can discuss and try new ideas out in classrooms, before providing feedback to peers. The whole teaching team can be focused on the same strategies. It is cost efficient for school leaders too, as they will not need to repeat sessions for absentees.
The power of the internet lies in connectivity and the Commonwealth Trust bridges the gap between Learning Poverty and SDG4, by being able to supply quality digital TPD to all teachers, no matter their circumstance, worldwide.
What digital TPD do we offer?
The Commonwealth Education Trust provides teachers working in under resourced settings across the globe with a low-cost, digital, professional development solution through our ed-Tech, award winning platform, Teach2030.
Teach2030 courses, materials and virtual activities focus on strategies to increase learning outcomes and classroom knowledge. In our digital Teach2030 community, teachers feel safe discussing their classroom practice, knowing they will be supported by peers worldwide. This allows every teacher to remain committed to a trajectory of excellence.
Courses are designed for whole school and independent learning. Easy-to-use and low data, all teachers receive contextualised, assessed, and certified TPD materials through their smartphone or digital device. Headteachers and their teams feel supported with specific training to encourage time tabled TPD to become standard in schools, ensuring teachers learn and develop their practice continuously. All materials can be timed and paced to suit the needs of individuals and schools.