Over the last few months there has been talk of big changes at work, which has eventually led to an expansion of my own personal role. This will include a learning and development role, not only for Schools' Library Service staff but for the whole of the public library staff too. As with any new role it has given me the chance to think about what these changes will mean not only for me but for the people I work with and how do I go about encouraging and supporting personal development in others?
My main question is this:-
Is Continued Professional Development (CPD) something we should wait to be given or is it something that we as individuals need to take control of?
In the early days of my career I thought that CPD was something that happened if I was lucky. As a library assistant in Newcastle City libraries I was encouraged to do my City and Guilds in Information and library services and although I did get this under my belt I was never offered any other professional development after that and I did not really expect any more, I was a non-professional after all. (I don't think this way now!)
Once I qualified as a librarian and started working for SLS Guernsey all librarians were expected to go on one conference once a year. This was great, I met new and exciting people, I learnt a lot while I was there but when I came back to work I was never sure how this should translate to what I was doing in practice. I was sometimes asked to write a report which was more to prove that I had attended and to be honest if I forgot no-one chased me up so why bother?
No one really explained to me what professional development was or why it was important. No one explained that it was important for myself and the people I work for, that I should keep on top of what was happening in education and libraries. I was happy that I was doing a good job, looking after my family so there was no need to do more. Maybe I should of known, maybe everyone else did know but never talked about it. Whatever the reason at this point I had no idea about the benefit or impact of focused professional development for myself or the others around me.
Taking control of your own CPD
However, when I did my masters I began to realise that I actually enjoyed reading for learning and when I was finished I knew that I had to find something else that would engage me as much as this did, however, I quickly fell back into the trap of waiting for the next conference or flicking through the CILIP Information Professional (Although now that I write for them I read it from cover to cover of course lol ).
The one thing that did change for me was social media. I began to understand the importance of Twitter and Facebook for CPD. I was reading more because the people I was following were sharing interesting articles and blogs not only from the library world but education too. Finding articles that helped me understand my own learning like this one about CPD. My interest in engaging teachers in school libraries got me invited to present at the Practical Pedagogies conference in Toulouse. Here I met John McCarthy who suggested that I started blogging. Sometimes that is all it takes, someone to say something to you which sparks that flame and you are away. I finally realised that CPD was not a selfish thing, it was not about what I was getting but it was about sharing my learning with others.
Writing this blog is something that I very definitely, now consider, part of my own CPD. I originally started on Blogger in 2012 with very little idea of what I was doing. Here is my first every blog, which makes me smile now, knowing where I have come since then. I very definitely have a focus now, it is not a personal blog and my painting adventure has been put on hold until I retire. My turning point was Toulouse in 2016, as you can see I began to critically evaluate what I was doing. Blogging has allowed me think about and understand how my own learning can help and support others which was a big step for me, my CPD was not just about me. It has opened doors to write for professional magazines, to talk at more conferences and I believe that it has given me a voice and confidence I would never of had, had I never clicked the publish button.
I know that blogging is not for everyone but with Podcasts, Vlogs, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram I believe that the right platform is out there for everyone. I think if you try to learn in isolation it becomes very difficult mountain to climb. Learning with others, giving and receiving support is essential and the more you do it the easier it gets and this is why I started my online book club. I started it because I realised that I needed to be more proactive in my own professional reading. I was very good at saying that I was reading professionally, from reading the CILIP Information Professional to blogs and articles shared on twitter, but what I wasn't very good at was discussing what I was reading and thinking about how it had an effect on my own personal situation. I know that I have benefited from this process and reading some of the comments made and people regularly coming back to join in I feel that others have too.
Ok so you are now all reading this saying, who has time for all this?... My intention was not to start you all blogging or becoming social media fiends, but to try and understand what got me started and hopefully think about how I can help others find what is good for them. If you have done something different then let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you!
Have I answered my own question? How do I go about encouraging and supporting personal development in others?
I am not sure to be honest! It is one thing knowing and understanding how I have created my own CPD and supported others online but not everyone is on social media and not everyone likes to work online so is there something else out there for those people? I think this is a 'watch this space' ending and I will re-visit this in a couple of years time.
Building Your Personal Learning Network (PLN): 21st-Century School Librarians Seek Self-Regulated Professional Development Online Moreillon, Judi Knowledge Quest, v44 n3 p64-69 Jan-Feb 2016 https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1087618.pdf