The Deep End: Facilitating Continuous Professional Development

February 13, 2018

I had the fantastic opportunity to meet David Weston of the Teacher Development Trust (TDT) this past month. David is the executive director of TDT and he spends much of his time thinking about and facilitating (CPD) ‘continuous professional development.’ We spoke about the challenges of providing, supporting and implementing CPD in schools, and aligning to the UK Standard for Teacher’s Professional Development. Their standards around PD are similar to what we have in the USA.

The Department of Education in the UK has set out a standard that all:

  • Professional development should have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes.
  • Professional development should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise.
  • Professional development should include collaboration and expert challenge.
  • Professional development programmes should be sustained over time. And all this is underpinned by, and requires that:
  • Professional development must be prioritized by school leadership.

I agree. Relevant, worthwhile, researched-based, student-centered professional learning that is ongoing and is given support and time by school administration is a good thing. And, as written, the work of teacher and administrator leadership development wouldn’t directly fit with those guidelines.

Work on collaboration, learning how to have humane and growth producing hard conversations, being generationally savvy in our communications, effectively leading teams and creating identity-safe workspaces is defined by the Standard as “indirect professional development,” and is stated as “contribute[ing] to improve the running of a school or by developing teachers in other ways.”

The word, ‘indirect’ has a lot of synonyms. Peripheral, ancillary, and secondary are just a few, according to And I get it. I understand the work I do is one degree away from or one click off from classroom practice.

And, I wholeheartedly believe and know that teacher leadership and the development of adults as learners and effective communicators has the potential to affect student achievement and school culture.

True to our countries of origin, David had tea and I had coffee and we talked till dark about adult learning – continuous growth, the need to be curious about one’s practice, the skill of inquiry, an ability to be other-focused, the capacity to reflect and the understanding that we must be agents and drivers in our development as human beings and educators.

Both direct professional learning – conversations about one’s teaching practice, learnings about one’s content, opportunities to watch one another work – AND indirect professional learning – how to be an effective team member, how to communicate with other adults, how to coach, facilitate and to lead – are both essential. I want it all. How about you?

This post was originally published on the edCircuit blog where Jennifer is a featured columnist.

About Jennifer Abrams

Jennifer Abrams

Jennifer Abrams considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague and supervising an employee. Jennifer holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Jennifer's publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course by the same name.

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“Jennifer presented a workshop on Having Hard Conversations to our staff. She is a superb presenter, with a strong command of the content, excellent real examples, and professional delivery. Staff have since been talking to me all week about how much they enjoyed the presentation. I only wish we had more time with her, as these practices have the potential to have a really positive impact on our workplace.”

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