Blogging for Professional Learning


The Revised GTCS Standards

According to the GTCS website, there are 11 days, 14 hours and 56 minutes until the revised professional standards come into effect…have you looked at them yet? If you have, you might well be wondering how we’re going to achieve all this. I personally think the standards look fantastic, but like many I suspect, I worry that the financial support will not be there to support the deep and meaningful professional learning they aspire to. However, I think we need to be careful not to assume that we can’t achieve any of this. I believe the professional way of engaging with these standards is to work out what we can do and then make a reasoned case as to why funding is required for the rest.

For example, professional enquiry is mentioned a lot in the new standards, and rightly so. I’m fortunate in that my MEd was in Professional Enquiry and culminated in me leading a collaborative professional enquiry process in my school, which we’re currently developing and widening. But to get to this point took four years of intensive study and significant support from the staff at the University of Stirling. I intend to write a post before the start of the new term outlining how to approach a collaborative professional enquiry, but this obviously will fall a long way short of the rich and intensive learning which I gained from the MEd programme. If we want deep professional learning for teachers which has impact, it will require support and investment.

However, there are some things we can do for free. We could be making much better use of each other in our schools through reciprocal classroom observations and small school-based TeachMeets for example. Although these things cost a little in time, they are fantastic ways of learning from each other and much better than the vast majority of “courses” I’ve ever attended.

And then there’s blogging. I still maintain that blogging is one of the best forms of CPD I have ever engaged with. In terms of the impact it has had on me as a teacher, I think it is rivalled only by my MEd – but I don’t think I would have ever done the MEd had I not been blogging first. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about blogging in education…some folk assume that it’s all about self-publicity, but I’ve never seen that way. Of course, some teachers do use it in that way, but it’s not compulsory! I do it as it helps me think and reflect. The fact that it is public forces me to write, and therefore reflect, more carefully and more frequently than I would otherwise – but I see myself as the primary beneficiary of my blog, not whatever ‘audience’ there might be. Obviously, it’s a real thrill to know that others are reading my blog and find it interesting or useful, but I don’t do it for them, I do it for my professional learning.

This perspective also allows me not to worry if I’m not posting regularly. I don’t stress if I’ve not written a post in months, because it’s my blog and it’s for me. If I’ve not been writing then I’ve not needed it for a little while. But it’s always there to come back to if I need it.

So, how could blogging support you with the new professional standards? Well, for each of the standards I’ve picked out a few statements which could very obviously be met through blogging…

All Standards

  • Demonstrating openness, honesty, courage and wisdom.
  • Critically examining personal and professional attitudes and beliefs and challenging assumptions and professional practice.
  • Critically examining the connections between personal and professional attitudes and beliefs, values and practices to effect improvement and, when appropriate, bring about transformative change in practice.
  • Engaging with all aspects of professional practice and working collegiately with all members of our educational communities with enthusiasm, adaptability and constructive criticality.
  • Committing to lifelong enquiry, learning, professional development and leadership as core aspects of professionalism and collaborative practice.

The Standard for Full Registration

  • reflect and engage in self evaluation using the relevant professional standard
  • demonstrate an enquiring and critical approach to their professional practice and development and engage in systematic professional dialogue
  • evaluate, and adapt their classroom practice rigorously and systematically, taking account of feedback from others, to enhance teaching and learning
  • work collaboratively to contribute to the professional learning and development of colleagues, including students, through offering support and constructive advice and through disseminating experience and expertise, seeking opportunities to lead learning
  • maintain an effective record and portfolio of their own professional learning and development and a professional development action plan, including analysis of impact on learners and on own professional practices

Standard for Career-Long Professional Learning

  • understand and explore the contexts and complexity in which teachers operate and the dynamic and complex role(s) of professionals within the educational community
  • actively consider and critically question the development(s) of policy in education
  • develop skills of rigorous and critical self-evaluation, reflection and enquiry including how to investigate and evidence impact on learners and professional practice

Standards for Leadership and Management

  • Leaders continually develop self-awareness; they regularly question their practice through processes of reflection and critical enquiry…They build and sustain personal credibility by modelling their commitment to career-long professional learning, integrity and ethical practice, thus developing a culture of trust and respect.
  • Leaders display a readiness to engage in debate and dialogue and promote constructive ways of achieving improvement, displaying an awareness of the ethical use of power and authority.
  • Leaders show and communicate their deep commitment to the education and well-being of learners in their everyday practices. They are effective communicators within the school and the wider community and build effective relationships across networks. They listen, express their ideas and feelings clearly, engage in professional dialogue and constructive feedback and establish effective organisational communication. They make use of a variety of appropriate media in doing so.
  • model good practice in personal self-evaluation against the relevant professional standard and appropriate benchmarks
  • promote an open, honest and critical stance in examining practice, within their area of responsibility
  • take responsibility for, and engage actively in, ongoing professional learning to enhance their personal and professional skills and knowledge base

These are just the obvious ones, but actually the entirety of the standards could benefit from blogging. Take the following professional action from the Standard for Full Registration for example:

  • systematically develop and use an extensive range of strategies, approaches and associated materials for formative and summative assessment purposes, appropriate to the needs of all learners and the requirements of the curriculum and awarding and accrediting bodies

Although this doesn’t immediately leap out as an action which is relevant to blogging, it is. If this was an aspect of practice which you as a teacher were working on improving, then writing a post on formative and summative assessment approaches would help you to develop your thinking. Assessment is something which preoccupies me quite a lot, and so I’ve written several posts on the subject all of which have helped me to develop my thinking and improve my practice. So, blogging can help you meet the actions listed above, and all the others…and it’s free!

So, how can you get started? Well if you’re in East Lothian it’s really very easy. Just head on over to fill out the details using your work email address and tick the box that says “Yes, I’d like to create a new site”. If you don’t work in East Lothian, but you do teach in Scotland you can set up a Glow Blog, or you can use one of the many free blogging sites such as WordPress, Blogger or Edublogs…it doesn’t really matter. They’re all free and very easy to use, just choose one which appeals to you and get going. You don’t need any training to write a blog post. If you can send an email, you can write a blog post. If you like, you could always test the water by writing a post on before deciding whether or not to set up your own blog.

Still not sure? Have a read of this article by Tom Sherrington on the Guardian website which might just convince you to go for it…