Continuing personal and professional development

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3.2 use self reflection and feedback to develop own knowledge, practice and skills, including literacy, language, numeracy and ICT skills.

3.3 plan appropriate opportunities to address own identified learning needs.

Continuing Personal and Professional Development (CPPD), Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Personal Development Plan (PDP) are all recognised terms for a method of managing the way that professionals plan and record the path of their own development. It has many parallels in its structure such as time and project management. Taking a starting point in the past and reviewing what has already been achieved gives initial focus on our abilities to learn and therefore a clearer insight into the route towards our possible goals. Whilst there are standardised formats readily available for the actual recording, each CPPD, by its very nature, is unique in its flow and individuality.

As a catering instructor and assessor it is essential that I keep up to date with current trends and the legislative requirements of my own specialist area. Although I have been a qualified chef for many years with job roles ranging from restaurants to industrial development work, it is essential that I expand my knowledge in order to meet the requirements of the awarding bodies and thereby deliver an appropriate level of subject specific learning to my students. All qualifications and CPPD are regularly checked by the City and Guilds external verifier.

The formal training within my work environment encompasses not only professional teaching qualifications required by the government but also those related to Offender Learning. In order to enrol for the DTLLS course I had to sit Level two literacy and numeracy exams even though I already had 'O' levels in these subjects. Currency of qualifications is essential and can quickly be highlighted within CPPD recording.

Experiential learning is part of my day to day personal development and applies to every aspect of my job from overcoming production problems in the kitchen through to finding better ways of encouraging students to try different approaches to learning. Much of the latter comes as a result of asking peers for guidance and research via on the internet. Staff development days are another opportunity to fine-tune teaching skills, but unfortunately, those of us who work in Offender Learning, are not often free to attend.

My CPPD ranges accordingly from formal teacher training such as the Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS) and attending standardisation workshops run by City and Guilds through to watching television cookery programmes, reading trade journals and other similar forms of research. In order for my CPPD to be effective, it needs to be more than just a diary of what was done and a singular goal. It necessitates the recording of not only what was achieved but also how I felt about the experience and any ideas of how future outcomes may be changed.

All observations of my lessons are recorded as perceived by an impartial observer who compares my teaching against set criteria, records my strengths and weakness and highlights any areas that may require further skills development (appendix 1). This action is always followed by my own evaluation written as a reflective learning journal entry (appendix 2).

Personal tutorials (Appendix 3) are used throughout the DTLLS course in order to map my progress and re-focus my learning towards the outcomes which need to be achieved.

Self Assessment Reporting (SAR Appendix 4) is an obligatory requirement of my job role and another valuable tool for highlighting current strengths and areas for development within the courses I teach. When completing my last SAR I discovered that I needed to pay more attention to the embedding of numeracy and basic computer skills. This has now been rectified by the introduction of costing and nutritional analysis. After discussion with another tutor, I am now working towards producing spreadsheet templates that my students can utilise during this lesson in order to fulfil the requirements of another course as well as my own.

As a member of the Institute for Learning (IfL) it is mandatory to record and reflect on my professional development in order to evidence commitment to CPPD. Substantiating at least thirty hours of CPPD is amazingly easy due to working in Offender Learning where the updating of legislation and prison regimes requires currency of knowledge within strict governmental guidelines and deadlines.

My first experience of 'reflection' was as a young boy learning kung fu where I had to reflect on my actions during a training session and explain to my si'fu (teacher) not only what I thought I had gained but also what I may have missed. In a lot of respects, this process appeared to repeat itself when I started DTLLS and I went through the same anxieties; how was learning achieved, what went well with my teaching and what could/should I do to make improvements. I often wondered whether the plenary section of my lesson plans was wasted space when one lesson went well and the same lesson to a different group was hard-going. Experience and constructive reflection has shown that the lesson content remains solid but it was my teaching that had to vary in pace and delivery method in order to achieve the desired outcomes.

Reflection in various forms has become part of my daily routine and that of my students. Every assessment observation records my feedback to the student and their own reflection about the task. As a group, we will critically analyse how a catering function went in respect of comments from customers and our own feelings about the event. Even very favourable feedback from a two star Michelin chef did not prevent the group telling me what they could have done better. All forms of reflection and analysis of actions help me become a more reflective practitioner.

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest." Confucius (500BC)

I agree with Confucius in his statement that the best method of learning is by reflection and this is by reviewing and evaluating what has been done in order to comprehend what and how we have learned and how we may become more effective in our chosen career path. This wisdom has been carried through the ages but its truth and value only recently recognised by modern society as noted in the following quote.

"Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful." Margaret J. Wheatley (2002)

It should also be noted that there a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit - wisdom is not putting one in the fruit salad.

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