A breath of fresh air – empowering teachers through professional learning

Today we’re celebrating World Teachers’ Day. The day recognises teachers as key both to enhancing the lives of each and every learner and to building sustainable societies based on knowledge, values and ethics.

A special day focuses all our minds on the role of teachers, and gives us the opportunity to appreciate particular teachers who have made a difference to our own lives. I’d like to propose that one of the characteristics of great teachers is that they are themselves eager to learn and develop. We can support teachers to do this by providing a platform for continuous professional development and learning for life.

Over the past 15 years, my colleagues and I in Cambridge have dedicated our professional lives to designing and managing Cambridge Professional Development Qualifications (PDQs). Over the past week I’ve been putting together our brochure to explain how the Cambridge PDQs help to transform professional learning for teachers and educational leaders and the culture of professional development in schools. We’ve been overwhelmed by testimonials from teachers, leaders and schools around the world who are engaging with the qualifications.

To mark World Teachers’ Day I’d like share to some of these with you to celebrate teachers and their enduring commitment to learning.

Akanksha Mahajan teaches in Utpal Shangvi School in Mumbai, India. She says that the Cambridge PDQ has;

redefined the paradigm of teaching for me, helping me to build the skill of collaboration with colleagues and learners. I now use approaches to create inspiration in my learners to give their best in order to discover what they know and grow from there.

Akanksha’s colleague, Anita Jain, says that the Cambridge PDQ experience has been;

like a breath of fresh air which has recharged the creative teacher within me that seemed to have been lost over the year.

World Teachers’ Day not only celebrates shared goals but also recognises diversity and challenges. Cambridge PDQ programmes are run in schools, schools systems and national authorities in many different contexts.  It is one of the most rewarding challenges for us to design and provide a shared global framework for professional learning that supports teachers and leaders to learn and practise as effectively as possible in their local context.

Alison Walker is the Director of Iris Africa Primary School, Malawi, a donor-funded school located in an isolated, rural community. Alison explains;

Our chief purpose is to educate children who are in orphan care and vulnerable situations within the surrounding villages. We see quality education as a critical tool to break the poverty cycle and provide hope for our children.

Finding suitably trained teachers for our school has been a major challenge. We wanted to equip our teachers with a professional qualification, and our first teacher gained her Certificate in 2014. She has now inspired her colleagues to join her in working towards the Diploma in Teaching with Digital Technologies.

The Cambridge PDQs are enabling our teachers to gain exposure to different teaching and learning theories, methods and strategies. They can then apply this knowledge practically within their classrooms; all within our local context. This can only be to the benefit of our learners.

It’s different in Dubai…or is it? Elisabeth Jacob is Head of Professional Learning and Development at The Winchester School. Winchester is a multi-cultural international school in Dubai with over 3,500 students from 90 different countries and over 200 teaching staff, with a robust and needs-based professional development programme.

Our priorities include training teachers in various aspects of cutting edge pedagogy, promoting active learning and inducting teachers who have had experience of diverse curricula into the methods and expectations of teaching our curriculum.

The Cambridge PDQ – the Certificate in Teaching and Learning – has been particularly useful. It is very well received by our teachers and has helped them make remarkable progress in their teaching skills with a desirable positive impact on their learners. The focus on active learning has been particularly useful and has helped teachers to raise standards in the classroom.

Let’s take one more whistle-stop journey…to Colombia. Geoff Watson leads the British Council programme for the Cambridge Certificate in Educational Leadership for teachers in bilingual schools. Geoff says;

The action research framework is the most effective method we have observed for transferring theory into practice and empowering teachers to be active agents in their own development. The Cambridge PDQs are successful because they enable teachers to identify and focus on what it is they want to change; reflective writing helps to clarify and shape the transfer of new ideas into the classroom.

The qualifications also provide certification for teaching and leading in bilingual contexts, allowing teachers to receive recognition for their skills and knowledge. Receiving a distinction in an internationally accredited teaching qualification is a significant boost to self-confidence and motivation.

We offer the programmes both in school, for schools committed to transforming their pedagogy and at local training centres, for individuals seeking personal development and certification. Seeing the additional benefits of the sharing of good practice has encouraged some schools to open their doors to inter-school opportunities for learning for both teachers and students.

It’s great to receive such positive feedback about Cambridge PDQs. Wherever teachers are I want to ensure every teacher feels empowered by their experience with us. I want them to be able to continue to develop their professional thinking and practice in the future, and have the means to do so.

Happy World Teachers’ Day!

*Photos courtesy of Iris Africa Primary School

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  1. Hi Paul,

    I am inspired by the reflections shared by teachers who are engaged in PDQs. It’s indeed empowering teachers through professional learning!

    Am also looking froward to sharing our experiences of conducting PDQ in our School. We intend to start in Dec. 2015.

    Thanks and regards

    Rakshanda Ovais
    Generation’s School
    Pakistan.

  2. Dear Paul
    It indeed is a pleasure to read your article. The best part I would like to appreciate is the inclusion of anecdotes by teachers of various nationalities.
    Cambridge PDQs are always a boon for us. These PDQs help us to unearth the real teachers from with in us. They stimulate our self esteem and encourage us to innovate teaching techniques to benefit our students.
    Hats off to Cambridge for conducting the PDQs.
    Thanks
    Aji Kumar
    Kasiga school (IN086)
    Dehradun, India

  3. Dear Paul,

    Happy World teachers Day! It was a pleasure reading your article and also to view the comments of two of my candidates regarding their PDQ experiences. It is heart warming to see how the PDQ is making a change in the quality of Teaching and Learning.
    Feels great to be part of this PDQ learning community.
    I look forward to collaborate and learn more, make a difference to the quality of teaching and learning and thereby enhance the quality of education

    warm regards,
    Lakshmi

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