CPD AND ACTION RESEARCH
CPD AND PERSPECTIVES ON TEACHING
NEW PEOPLE, NEW LANDS
I have gained insights into various aspects of digital tools and learned about Continuous Professional Development, an approach that was new to me. I had never thought about a teacher as a researcher before. In my mind, research was one thing and teaching the other, one happened in university and the other in schools; maybe researchers came to a school but they were certainly not part of the school. Then, I learned about Action Research and my view and knowledge on this matter was completely changed. I see this as a great opportunity to fulfill what I often feel is missing at school: change. CPD in the form of Action Research is a great way to look at what is there, find solutions for a problem and move on from it with a clearer view of the students, the school, the circumstances and oneself as a teacher.
In addition to that, I valued learning about tools like VEO and getting accustomed to the thought that co-teaching and feedback amongst colleagues can be a very productive way to enhance CPD. I grew up with teachers in school who did not use any of these possibilities, therefore, the thought of possibly letting someone observe my classroom felt strange to me at first, too. Through the insides we’ve gained during our first study week, I can now see, however, that it all comes back to the attitude with which we create this kind of feedback culture. It is not about denunciating or praising someone’s methods, it is about learning from each other, using the external view on our classroom as a chance to review ourselves as well as our methods, and therefore reflecting about our own personalities as humans, teachers and professionals so that we can develop and become a better version of ourselves. When in Boras, the experience of being filmed while teaching really helped me to realize all of these things and get a taste of the different and more productive surrounding awaits us as future teachers, if we are willing to use it.
Furthermore, I have learned about many digital tools that I did not know before. Since I work part time in social media for a magazine, I know my way around digital tools which is why I wasn’t sure if proPIC could really offer me many new things. But in fact, I did learn about several tools and platforms that I did not know about. On the one hand, there are those which are connected to teaching and learning which have unfortunately never made their way into my university classes before. On the other hand, there are those tools that also serve another purpose, e.g. Google Forms and Docs, and can be used for several occasions outside of teaching. It was a profound realization to see that although I thought I knew quite a lot, there were still so many more things to find out about.
In addition to that, I recently noticed something that made me smile a bit while in class. Since I am studying abroad in Belgium this semester, classes have already started at the beginning of September. In the first session of a seminar the teacher asked us “What do you know about South Africa?” Thirty people were looking at him or staring at their laptops but nobody said anything. He waited for five seconds, then he said “Well, maybe the question is just too broad” and moved on with class, telling us about the history of South Africa. I was sitting there and thought to myself, well, if he had only used a digital tool like mentimeter right now, he would have had many answers within a minute and on top of that students full attention. Thank you, proPIC, for making me more attentive to what is happening in a classroom.
Looking back at my starting point and the rest of my list of goals and expectations, there are two points that I haven’t referred back to, yet. First, the people I encountered on this journey. I really valued proPIC’s learning atmosphere, both in Kiel as well as in Boras. Isabel is a great teacher who made our study week interesting, fun and what I appreciated most: relevant. She is already a friendly person, but it was her teacher personality that really gave me an immediate idea of what proPIC is all about. It was obvious that she reflected upon herself regularly during her career and that she really cares for proPIC and her students. What I appreciated most was that whenever she asked our opinion, it really felt like she cared and that she didn’t ask to make us do our duty but in order to engage into a conversation with us and to make us think. What I also liked about it, was that we were all coming together from different study subjects and went on this journey together in English, a language we can all speak – this is one of those situations where I see the relevance of multilingualism in my own education.
All of this also made it possible to get to know the people in the course much better than in any ordinary seminar. Going on the journey to Sweden together with Leenke, for example, made us come closer than a normal university seminar could have. And finally, it was a blessing to travel somewhere else, connect with other people in Europe, and work together on paving our paths as future teachers. I really feel like I had the opportunity to create a vision for myself and my future colleagues and wish for every student to have an opportunity like this one, especially if it is filled with so many firsts.
All in all, I think that proPIC has made me both a better learner and teacher. There were so many occasions at which I caught myself thinking “This is totally new to me” or “I have never thought about it like that” – eye-opening moments that – to put it bluntly – give the chills every time. I value all of the opportunities proPIC gave me and all the people I could meet on this journey and I am more than happy to have made the decision in March of this year, to make this enriching experience part of my educational journey.