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Well-being in education at Maastricht University

Teach-Meet October 23, 2019: Continuing Professional Development

On Wednesday, October 23, EDLAB organized a Teach-Meet – an informal session in which staff from all UM faculties can come together to share experiences concerning innovative approaches in the classroom. This time, the new CPD (Continuing Professional Development) activities were presented. CPD aims to provide opportunities for UM teaching staff to develop new knowledge and skills relevant to their teaching.

During the event, four professionals (two teaching staff and two CPD coordinators) shared their perspectives on CPD at Maastricht University (UM):

While the speakers shared different sides of CPD at UM, at the end of the day, the four speakers had the same message: CPD is focused on the development needs of the individual teacher and therefore relies significantly on the self-directedness of teaching staff.

Consequently, it is the responsibility of the individual teacher to identify their own development needs and make plans for CPD with input from their line managers and CPD coordinators. A key question is then: How can a university-wide culture be created in order for teachers to feel that CPD is a validated means to improve one’s teaching?

The first speaker was EDLAB’s CPD coordinator, Donna Carroll.  She was positive that the UM is full of motivated and enthusiastic staff who want to create the best learning experience for their students but stated that time is the greatest challenge for teaching staff to make further developments to their teaching.  Time in which a teacher can get inspired by meeting others or time in which experiences can be shared concerning classroom approaches. Luckily, there are now financial means, to support CPD allocated to every UM faculty.

The teacher in charge
The second speaker was Stefan Jongen, CPD coordinator at FSE. According to him, teachers are the experts of the classroom. Therefore, they should be in charge of their own CPD. A CPD coordinator helps a teacher in identifying their own needs in order to improve their education. Professional development should not be one and done. It requires a continuous reflection from the teacher on the knowledge and skills they need. This struck a chord with our third speaker, Francine Schneider from FHML who also focused on the importance of the word ‘continuity’.

Teachers learning from teachers
How can professional development remain continuous? This question was raised by Francine Schneider who had participated in previous CPD trainings. Francine went on to describe two ways. Firstly, CPD depends on attitude. It is not about checking the box that you have fulfilled this year’s CPD-hours. Rather, it is a state of mind in which a teacher keeps on identifying which skills or knowledge they wish to acquire, in order to improve the education they give. Secondly, the most effective method to acquire these new skills can often be through learning about the best practises of peers.

Roy Erkens, our fourth speaker, a member of UM teaching staff who has also delivered his own CPD training sessions, relates to this point. According to him, professional development is like PBL: you learn by doing. Therefore, workshops in which teachers inspire other teachers are most effective. Putting your ideas on education innovation out in the open allows for a lot of feedback which you can also learn from as a trainer. By doing this, we can collectively provide better education.

Continuous professional development depends on the individual needs of a teacher. Both the faculty coordinators as well as EDLAB are there to help UM teaching staff to formulate and accomplish their development goals. Now, it is time to increase awareness of the new CPD opportunities and create a positive learning culture for all teaching staff at UM.

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