Effective remote CPD: Five practical tips

Written by: Nihad Cehic | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

The recent review of the evidence around remote CPD for teaching staff has outlined approaches that could prove effective, including by using video and coaching. Nihad Ćehić considers five ideas for how schools can used video as part of remote CPD

The Education Endowment Foundation recently released a rapid evidence assessment on remote professional development during Covid-19 (EEF, 2020).

The report summarises the efficacy of remote approaches and aims to help school leaders who have had to make quick decisions around remote professional development. The EEF review had five broad conclusions, which I have translated into five practical tips to help you maintain and improve good quality remote CPD.

Consider remote CPD beyond the pandemic

The EEF found consistent evidence that remote professional development can support improvement in professionals’ knowledge and skills and in outcomes for pupils.

It is important to note that the content of CPD is likely to make the biggest impact on whether CPD is effective or not, but it is reassuring to know that your school could provide good CPD either remotely or in-person going forward.

Right now, schools are being forced to deliver CPD remotely due to the pandemic, but once the lockdown restrictions have ended, if your school can save money or increase access to CPD, why not consider remote delivery as part of your school’s CPD playbook?

Try remote coaching to support your teachers

Coaching and mentoring does not always have to be in person over a cup of tea or coffee. It can be really difficult for staff to meet due to social distancing, workload and other commitments they may have in their lives after school.

Remote coaching and mentoring does not have to replace physical meet-ups, but can act as a useful alternative to support time-poor members of staff at times which are convenient for them.

The EEF found that remote coaching and mentoring can be just as effective and can reduce isolation for teachers. The report states: “Remote or blended coaching, mentoring and expert support can be used to complement broader remote or blended CPD programmes.”

As a more cost-effective and flexible tool, consider trialling remote coaching to help empower staff and reduce burn-out.

Use video to enhance remote CPD

Tell a teacher that you are going to film their lesson and you may not be met with the enthusiasm you were hoping for. They will be thinking, why me? What is the video going to be used for? Who will see it? How will my students react to the camera?

The EEF recommends video as a strategy to improving remote CPD and videos have been used for years to enhance teaching practice. The report states: “Across a number of reviews, the use of video is identified as a particularly effective element of CPD that enables teaching staff to review their own and reflect on others’ actions in the classroom. The targeted use of videos generally increases the time trainees take to complete CPD but leads to gains in practitioner knowledge and pupil outcomes.”

The benefits of using recorded lessons for remote CPD are clear. So how do you cross this barrier? First, make it crystal-clear that your teachers have ownership of the videos and that no-one will see the videos without their consent – the video is to help them, not judge them.

However, this can be a hard message to sell with a massive, imposing camera in the back of the classroom. Consider more discreet options like using a tablet or phone to record lessons instead.

Make remote CPD interactive and collaborative

We have all been there. A mass Teams meeting with someone talking about something which has no relevance to your job, while you have to sit and pretend to listen for an hour. Remote CPD does not have to be this way.

Look for tools that allow you to deliver CPD in the way that you would do it in person, don’t settle for virtual chalk and talk.

If you want to allow teachers to break out into group discussions during a CPD session, there’s an app for that. If you want teachers to tag key moments for reflection, there’s an app for that. If you want teachers to deliver polls in session, there’s an app for that.

The EEF report states: “Collaboration between colleagues may also improve CPD outcomes through enabling reflective practice and collective problem-solving. For example, CPD providers may include peer small-group discussion sessions following completion of individual tasks.”

If you are going to deliver remote CPD, be prepared and supportive

Do not force teachers to do CPD without adequate preparation time and support. The EEF found that remote CPD is most effective when delivered within a supportive culture.

It states: “School leaders have a critical role to play in ensuring enabling conditions are provided for remote coaching and mentoring relationships to be successful. They can support staff to prioritise their CPD by creating protected time within the working day for staff to engage with CPD sessions or materials. Schools should ensure staff have access to technology required for their CPD and appropriate training in order to access this safely, efficiently and appropriately.”

A supportive culture means buy-in across the leadership team and wider school network to the idea that remote CPD is both effective and useful. So while researching good strategies for delivering remote CPD well is important, be sensitive too of your school’s unique culture before attempting a mass roll-out.

In the words of Bananarama: “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it!”

  • Nihad Ćehić is from VEO, an ed-tech company that provides schools with specialist video-tagging software for remote CPD.

Further information & resources

Education Endowment Foundation: Remote professional development: Rapid evidence assessment, August 2020: https://bit.ly/3noXLWO

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