Is CPD a boon or a bane?
The Continuing Professional Development Act of 2016 or R.A 10912 is now fully implemented as law. Continuing Professional Development or CPD is defined as “the inculcation of advanced knowledge, skills, and ethical values in a post-licensure specialization or in an inter- or multidisciplinary field of study, for assimilation into professional practice, self-directed research and/or lifelong learning”. The CPD programs aim to meet the following goals: 1) Continuously improve the quality of country’s reservoir of registered professionals by updating them on the latest scientific/technological/ethical and other applicable trends in the local and global practice of the professions; 2) Provide support for lifelong learning in the enhancement of competencies of Filipino professionals towards delivery of quality and ethical services both locally and globally ; and 3) Deliver quality CPD activities aligned with the Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF) for national relevance and global comparability and competitiveness.
For professional teachers to renew their license, they are required to complete a mandatory 45 credit units. A credit unit refers to the value of an amount of learning that can be transferred to merit qualification. These units can be achieved from formal, informal, and non-formal learning setting. Since license renewal is done every three years, one must earn the minimum required credit units within the 3-year duration. Any excess units will not be credited to the next.
I am grateful that finally, the CPD has been given importance from policy makers. It means that all professionals will have to upgrade their learning and improve their services to the public. However, I have my reservations too. I doubt that the CPD that was mandated to all professionals will serve its ‘purpose’. Based from negative reactions I read from social media, many are not happy. Some even appeals for support to petition the implementation of the said CPD Act.
Honestly, I am also not sold out to the idea of mandated CPD because from my learning in module 5, this approach to professional development is traditional learning approach. It involves a passive mode of learning like transmission from expert to novice. Moreover, the theories of learning employs separate learning for each theory/discipline. Its purpose is to upgrade knowledge and skills, enhance or modify teaching practices; and usually follows a formal learning process that is provided or sponsored.
What is good about this implementation of CPD is the awareness and recognition of its importance to all professionals. Indeed, we cannot argue against the need for continuous inquiry and to upgrade our knowledge and skills in order to keep up with current trends in our chosen field or discipline. What I think is bad regarding the implementation is its political nature. I don’t think this CPD programs are accessible to all. Not everyone will be able to comply with the requirements if registration fee, time and other resources will come from the professional. I don’t think employers will be willing to send their employees for free just so these professionals employed under them will meet the required credits for renewal of license.
CPD for teachers is assumed to be ‘mandatory’ regardless of law that specifically dictate it. Educators are at the forefront of effective teaching and achievement of quality learning outcomes hence they are expected to be lifelong learners. With numerous problems and challenges that the education system faces, it is imperatives that teachers continuously seek and explore various solutions to problems or to make informed decisions. However, teachers lack the time to actually reflect and learn from their own experience. With demanding tasks and often demoralizing salary and compensation, teachers just aim to survive a day. At present, there are many in-service training offered to teachers but not all are able to avail it for reasons that funding is not available. Usually, only those who can afford to attend will do so because of certification or merit. This certificate will serve as proof of competency and will be used in screening for promotion to higher position. Because of this, the gap between those privileged (those with funding/sponsorship) and those who lack the resources becomes wider. Clearly, access to CPD is not the equal. So, if CPD is to be implemented, it should provide equal opportunity for all teachers to have it according to their needs, and necessary funding should be provided for such training
Another assumption is that CPD improve the performance of teachers and as a result, improved the learning outcomes of learners. Indeed, when teachers learn as a result of having CPD, they become more effective in their teaching. However, this is not true for all. If trainings are just implemented for the sake of having training, or if teachers are there for the sake of certification, then the training is just for compliance and waste of resources. For CPD to be effective, the need for it should start from professionals themselves, from the desire to meet the needs of students, and the commitment to render quality service to stakeholders in general. The motivation should also begin with the individual, and then as a collaborative effort united in addressing a specific need of the local community.
As discussed in class, a more effective approach to professional development is the teaching learning orientation (TLO). The conception of professional development calls for continuous professional learning. This is not mandated by law but results from practice of teacher professionalism. The mode of learning employed is active and collaborative. It follows theories of learning that integrates all to develop new theories (holistic approach). Moreover, it is created for the purposes of identifying needs such as learning gaps, and come up with solutions. Lastly, it involves lifelong process, sponsored or not, formal/informal/non-formal.
Both TLA and TLO were created to promote continuous professional development for teachers. However, I think TLO is more compatible to collaborative, democratic, and transformative teacher professionalism. This is because teachers have more autonomy with regards to practice of their profession and how they approach learning. It is no longer about having individual development but having collective professional transformation. Moreover, TLO is more empowering for educational professionals since commitment to the production of knowledge is promoted among teachers.
So, is CPD for teachers a boon or a bane? My answer is both—boon and bane! CPD for teacher is a boon if it approaches to professional development follows the teaching learning orientation as described above. In contrary, CPD becomes a bane if it follows the traditional learning approach. Therefore, the implementation of the CPD law will have differing result, depending on how professionals will approach it. I just hope that the proper implementation of this law will be guided by researched-based principles/theories and that professionals will be open for appropriate adjustment when problems arise. After all, the intention for this CPD is for the benefit of the public.
Professional development is not an individual endeavour but collaborative undertakings of educational leaders and policy makers committed to the best possible conditions and optimal professional development of effective professional learning communities. All stakeholders must actively engage in these learning communities to make changes and transformation that cam impact our educational system. Hence, let us not limit CPD to its traditional approach to learning, rather we take an active stance in participating and contributing to more collaborative, democratic, revitalizing, and re-imaging professional development.
Finally, as a future teacher, I am committed to lifelong learning. Regardless of CPD being mandatory or not, I will try my best to not just comply but will do it according to teaching learning approach that I learned in this module. I will engage myself to professional learning communities, specifically at school or other local setting. If there is not one existing, I will initiate the creation of it through having dialogue with school administrators, colleagues, students, parents, and other stakeholders concern. If training or learning opportunities come, I will grab the opportunity to do so. Otherwise, I will do anything (like distance learning) to always further my education, and to encourage others to do the same. Again, learning is a social thing so I will learn with others to maximize the learning opportunity.