Saturday, 16 April 2011

Why is continuing professional development (CPD) important?

Today I'd like to blog about a topic close to my heart- continuing (or continuous) professional development (CPD) and why it is important to an English teacher. This incidentally is the main reason for having my blog-to share and grow in our profession. The buzzword CPD has been used (or overused?) in schools and learning institutions that the meaning is sometimes lost and not fully understood. It surprises me sometimes to find teachers who complain on being asked to go for a meeting or course. I've always wondered what the reasons may be- travel? small children? time factor? personal business?  money? admin refuses to give permission? Granted that sometimes it's difficult to get permission to leave school but there is an alternative. You can always replace your classes first or later by swapping with colleagues ( I must thank Murniyati and Mona for always willing to swap with me) Yes, I do get tired the week I need to replace my classes but I will not forgo professional development! It should be an on-going process in the teaching profession that I've chosen. And would you believe that universities are now offering a Bachelor in Professional Development?

What is CPD?

It can be defined as any activity engaged in by an individual through which they continue to maintain and enhance existing competence and develop new knowledge and skills. It does not only refer to formal events, seminars, courses or qualifications. It may involve development in both technical and non-technical areas. It can include a wide variety of activities such as open learning, private study, work experience and more.

CPD has helped me grow as an English teacher. I remember having a toddler to mind at home but I still managed to somehow find ways to attend a course. CPD is so important I'm even willing to pay for CPD. So why is CPD crucial to an English teacher or to any teacher for that matter? Is it only important when you apply for promotion or career advancement? Yes, this is one reason but I'd like to think of it as an investment for my growth as a teacher more than anything else.  Imagine  just teaching and not enhancing one's knowledge and skills. Surely  there are new knowledge and skills you want to acquire. Transformations in curriculum are taking place as we speak and we just can't afford to be dinosaurs!! In addition, people are talking about having 'learning agility' as a core competency nowadays. Through effective CPD, you can improve your personal and professional competence as English teachers.

CPD can definitely benefit you because:

  • it builds your confidence and credibility
  • it is useful for appraisals. The current PTK undergoing modifications will I believe emphasise on CPD as one of the important criteria
  • you can achieve your career goals by focusing on your training and development.
  • you can cope better with change by constantly updating your skill set - now with the transformation in curriculum, a wealth of knowledge and skills will help you cope better and not be an observer by the sideline or be left behind.
  • it helps you become more productive and competent as you reflect your learning and highlight the gaps in your knowledge and experience - what some people refer to as 'capability enhancement' to increase our competency
Don't forget that it also benefits your organisation! You can always share what you've learned with your staff and impact your school in many ways.

CPD Opportunities

There are many opportunities for CPD:

  • your own school may have experienced teachers, GCs, who can share knowledge and skills. All you need to do is ask.
  • your district especially the District English Panel can identify your needs and arrange for courses - if funds are available, they can call experts from BPG, ELTECs, CDC, the divisions in the ministry to provides suitable input. But knowing the right input through learner needs feedback would be of great help to ensure the course is on target and on task.
  • the Education Department- from time to time, the JPN organises courses for teachers through their own effort or by collaborating with organisations/institutions government or private. Make sure you find out the latest from your Language Officers and JPN officers.
  • other educational bodies such as the Curriculum Development Division, Eltecs, international conferences that take place in Malaysia or outside. 
  • online courses in case you have not been chosen for any course.
  • private sectors- be on the lookout for career development programmes from the media
  • personal reading- the cheapest way to improve oneself- the only problem is you do not get a certificate but it can still be enriching. Many of us do not allocate enough time to read.

CPD is an investment to help me grow, improve and excel in my profession. It is what keeps me alive! I'd like to share the following quote that sends a message to every teacher on the need  to be competent teachers so they can raise students' achievement. And that way is through Continuing Professional Development.

"Every child needs—and deserves—dedicated, outstanding
teachers, who know their subject matter, are effectively
trained, and know how to teach to high standards and to
make learning come alive for students."
(President Clinton, Sept. 1996)


  1. I subscribe whole-heartedly to programmes involving continuing professional development, or just just personal career development. For teachers I would like to see them being convinced of the advantages of such programmes.

    I would not, however, like to see teachers absenting themselves from class by getting substitutes ad hoc. The welfare and need of the pupils must come first. This is one area I often criticise when pupils have the idea that their subject teachers can disappear with just leaving a stand-by of no other purpose than a body to be present in class. The onus falls squarely on a school Principal, that whatever is done pupils' education, hence time management, must take priority.

  2. salam pakcik,
    i agree with you that it must not be on an ad hoc basis but experience shows that letters do arrive late sometimes :)


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