Use these 5 questions to guide your VET professional development

Use these 5 questions to guide your VET professional development

For those of you who have been keeping up with my blogs, you will know I have been writing quite a bit about professional development. My conversations with other vocational educators have continued. Often conversation heads in the direction of “how much professional development is enough?”

An idea that has been shared with me a few times is that PD activities can be recorded against a time requirement. Some say twenty hours is enough while others say closer to one-hundred or two-hundred hours per year is the right amount. It makes sense that there is a varying range of hours all dependant on the specific industry being trained for. People I have spoken with balk when I tell them how much PD I have undertaken in terms of hours. It is a lot more than two-hundred hours per year. But is that really necessary?

For me, yes. But that is because I have a several year long plan including formal and informal professional development. I’m a little over the half-way point. I’m looking forward to the time when I can slow down a little. The mistake I see repeated all to often is vocational educators doing their utmost to provide a long list of PD activities to show they are highly engaged in continuous improvement in their industry area. That is not a bad thing but a question I tend to ask is, “what did you do that changed or improved how you provide education?”.

Unfortunately, most people I speak to shrug and tell me they are not sure what or even if they do something different as a result of doing PD. Then I ask, “so why use your valuable time if it didn’t result in anything?”. You can probably guess the responses are variations of “oh, I need to record some PD in a list for compliance”. Job done. Well no, not really.

What does the Standards for RTOs 2015 say about PD?

  • Professional development means activities that develop and/or maintain an individual’s skills, knowledge, expertise and other characteristics as a trainer or assessor

There is no mention of the number of hours of PD that needs to be undertaken. Only that PD must be undertaken such that it develops and maintains skill, knowledge and expertise. That YouTube video you watched about education. Maybe it was a TED Talk. Did you do anything with what you saw and heard that affected your education practice? If you did that is fantastic – log that as PD. If you didn’t then it is not really PD.

Here are five questions to guide you in deciding what PD activities you can do that are not time wasters. If you can answer all the questions you will be well on your way to doing PD that results in being compliant with the Standards for RTOs. Make sure you keep evidence of what you did and why you did it. VET is, after all, an evidence-based system. And that includes training, assessing and compliance activities.

  1. What activities do I already do that I can use for PD? For example, I have been learning to brew beer and have been using it as PD
  2. What activities can I engage in that will enhance by strengths? For example, developing skill and knowledge to apply learning theories (see my blog posts here and here)
  3. How can I design or arrange those activities using my learning preferences? For example, I tend to be a pragmatic learner who often prefers experiential learning.
  4. If I do this activity, what skill and/or knowledge can I develop? For example, applying learning theories to my own learning can assist me to develop learning programs for my students.
  5. If I develop that, how can I use it in my education practice? For example, I expect to improve my ability to facilitate training using learning theories in action.