Every teacher in Victoria is required to undertake upwards of 20 hours of professional development to meet the requirements of the Victorian Institute of Teaching, with most other states in Australia now also demanding something similar.
If you are teaching full time in a school these 20 hours can be easily met. Even better, the school usually covers all, or most of your professional development costs. However, if you are working as a casual relief teacher professional development may not be so easy to access, be extremely expensive on a limited and precarious budget and extremely stressful if you leave it all to the last minute.
Furthermore, in any given year, VIT sometimes demands you prove PD in a particular targeted area, from inclusive education, practices, teaching students with special needs, to Cross Cutural Awareness Training.
After much lobbying on the part of Victoria's teacher unions and CRTs themselves, some positive changes have happened to make PD for CRTs more easily accessed and free.
The Teacher Learning Network (TLN) has been funded to deliver Professional Development for CRTs in Victoria, which can be accessed at both training seminars in metropolitan and some regional areas as well as via webinars. Excellent PD can be accessed through them. Some face to face seminars are quite expensive, but there are discounts for teacher union members. However the new webinars are free. and can also be viewed online post the actual webinar itself. Here is the link: www.tln.org.au/
Another extremely useful and often free source of Professional Development is via CRT Networks, I personally belong to two. Firstly the AEU CRT network is an active group, representing both industrial and professional development interests and providing excellent interactive ongoing peer support for its members via an active Facebook page, targeted PD jointly with the TLN during school holidays and holiday member meetings to raise and pursue industrial issues. Members also put up and refer useful PD on the AEU CRT Facebook Page for their fellow CRTs to access, as well as supporting each other and putting up or responding to professional queeries.
On the local level, I belong to the Ballarat CRT Network. It too has an active Facebook group, with frequent PD opportunities shared by fellow members that others can access. It also offers workshops pertinent to our work during the holidays and occasionally after school. It is a fabulous way to get to know other CRTs working in the local area and provide peer support. Similar local CRT networks exist in most regions across the state.
School PD Days or after school training are wonderful for accessing free PD and updating our mandatory Anaphalaxis Practical component. They invariably require the individual CRT requesting to be included, so don't assume that by working in a school on a regular basis that you will be automatically included. Be proactive and request inclusion in relevant PD at the schools you most regularly work in. Don't expect to be paid, but given the school will be closed for the day, at least you are not losing income from participating in the PD at the school, as they would not be calling you up to work that day. The worse case scenario is paying for PD that is taking place on a day you could be available for work, so losing potential income on that day!
Professional Reading and Viewing; these things are part and parcel of a teacher's formal and informal PD. Whilst much of this can be planned and formal, the reality is some of this may happen in the process of our day to day lives. If a relevant film or documentary screens, log it and analyse it and relate it back to the Professional Standards. Ditto newspaper articles, websites and other things relevant to education. Don't forget any reading of children's or adolescent fiction that is also part of keeping abreast of curriculum demands.
There is sometimes a very fine line between leisure activities and professional learning. Visits to the theatre to see a play or dance production, a museum or gallery to see an exhibition that links to our subject specialties or visiting an historical site or unique eco system can also provide unique PD, well worth including in your list of PD undertaken.
Documenting your Professional Development and providing evidence of undertaking it can be an area of very real stress for some CRTs. I choose to use the VIT My PD Tracker. I find it a quick and easy means of keeping track and recording my PD in any one registration year. It demands you log in the title of your PD, a short summary and finally provide evidence and link it to the Professional Standards. I have made a habit of taking photographs when I am undertaking professional workshops and forums, or of the Certificate of Participation, should they be issued. I have photographed covers of books and even taken screen shots of ABC and SBS television promotions as evidence of the existence of the PD I undertook. Keeping the evidence is vital in the case of you being chosen for a PD audit by VIT.
Another reason I choose to use the VIT MY PD tracker, is, I believe, to demonstrate to VIT you are actually undertaking PD on a regular basis. If you don't use this format as a CRT, there is no indication you are maintaining your mandatory professional development and meeting the Professional Standards, save that of an audit to prove you are. I have known a couple of CRTs that were audited and required to prove they had undertaken adequate professional development. They had not been recording their PD via the VIT MY PD tracker. Luckily they had been complying, but it was now up to them to put all there Professional Development proof into the required format and provide concrete eveidence of participation. This may be easy if you are working on contract or as a permanent staff member in a school. As a CRT it may be much more of a challenge. Avoid being in this position by using the VIT My PD tracker, or keep and maintain a folder that is clearly demonstrating you comply with at very least the mandated 20 hours, including eveidence to that effect.
Finally, if you really find the whole scenario of PD extremely stressful and don't know where to start , with matching PD you undertake to the Professional Standards, I am offering my services as a PD Mentor and will help you work your way through ensuring you are undertaking and documenting your PD, learning how to log it analyse it and match it with Professional Standards, via VIT's My PD Tracker. Please visit the Consulting and Training section of this website if you would like to hire my services to mentor you through the process. I am available for one to one practical sessions during school holidays and online discussions via Facebook, or Skype, to help you with the processes for very reasonable rates!