From teacher to manager: CPD. What the…?


CPD. Continual Professional Development, not ‘Conjunctions Produce Drama’ nor ‘Crikey! Prepositions Debilitate’. What is it and why is it important? For all teachers, at all stages of their career, CPD is a must, whether it is formally or informally implemented. Some colleges insist that their staff ‘put in’ a minimum number of hours every year and record their CPD. Other institutions leave it very much to the individual, not monitoring or checking or really caring either way as long as student retention, attendance and/or progression is high.

My boyfriend is a chef. He is constantly on the look-out for new ingredients and ways of preparing them, travelling the world in search of innovative techniques to re-try/improve on/destroy in his kitchen. For me a teacher is the same. Yes, we can use our old, dog-eared Delia Smith cookery book… or we can experiment like Heston or the wonderful folk at Noma in Copenhagen (recently voted the best restaurant in the world… again) – and continue to experiment with methodology, resources and techniques. Sure, most of them won’t work and we’ll end up looking faintly foolish. Yes, mistakes will be made and people will probably chuckle gently at us.  OK, there may be minor explosions. But we can hold our heads up high and proudly state; “Well, at least I tried; I didn’t stagnate.”

Using any new technique can be daunting. But experimenting with different ways to present language can be enormously rewarding, and actually make our jobs as teachers easier! Think of CPD as the seasoning of the teaching world; it enhances the classroom flavour for students and teachers both. Why waste youth on the young… why waste learning on the students? We all know teachers who just seem inspired. Their students love them, they are innovative educators, planning is easy, their classes are always dynamic and full of fun and laughter… in short, we hate them. But just think about it. They probably spent precious personal time developing themselves as teachers in order to harness the variety of options open to us. CPD must affect our teaching as it broadens our minds and expands our knowledge base. And it’s so easy! All it takes is a little confidence, research and hey presto! New and improved classroom interaction!

A few formal CPD options for the asset-infused (hilarious politically correct way of saying wealthy):

If you want to increase your knowledge of methodology, principles & practices of English language teaching then maybe the DELTA is for you. It can be taken in 3 Modules: Module 1: an examination; Module 2: practical teaching assessment accompanied by assignments; and Module 3: an extended assignment (4000 – 4500 words on a selected specialism). I have completed the DELTA and LOVED it (and have many silver hairs to show for it which I wear as a badge of honour. Please ignore the twitching – it’s a well documented side-effect!) Follow this link for more information on the DELTA Modules.

If you want to develop management-specific knowledge (i.e. financial planning, marketing, human resources etc.) then you might want to consider the International Diploma in Language Teaching Management (IDLTM).  Pronunciation of this acronym is /ɪdəltʌm/ rather than /aɪdəltaɪm/! Follow this link for more information on IDLTM

Business English teachers can do an online 10 week course to receive an internationally recognised qualification validated and managed by English UK and Trinity College London.  More information on the IBET can be found here.

Now I’m originally from Yorkshire and a quarter Scottish… so while all the above options are excellent ones, the facts remain… they COST.  There are a wealth (hohoho) of free (free!) options for people like me who are eternally thirsty for learning and development but may not have a bottomless pit of gold readily available. Now where is that friendly leprechaun who promised to show me the end of the rainbow…?

A few informal CPD options for the economically unprepared (You can guess, right? Poor):

WIKIS Create a wiki to support your learning… or join ones already in existence and make friends while learning! Result!
• upload articles of personal interest
• encourage discussion among peers
• record things that worked and (unlikely though it may seem) that didn’t
TARSIA  Make jigsaws to practice new terminology/metalanguage – share with your friends! This kind of activity appeals to those tactile/kinaesthetic learners of us who just don’t ‘get it’ from lectures or books.

Become a reviewer of ESL publishing houses. Many publishers will send complimentary copies of new books/editions to prospective teachers – boost your library

Become a blogger! You can set up your own blog ( or or submit articles to existing TEFL blogs (some of which, like, actually pay real pennies – it’s a pittance but hey. You’re not teaching for the money, are you?)

The shabbily dressed ‘eternal student’ Trofimov in Anton Chekov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’ is a character forever close to my heart.  As a teacher, you never stop learning. My CPD has spanned voluntary work in Pakistan, attending free workshops, international conference speaking in Cambodia, the DELTA, and will shortly encompass IDLTM. Just call me Trofimov!


CPDContinual Professional Development
DELTADiploma in English Language Teaching to Adults
IDLTMInternational Diploma in Language Teaching Management

Further Reading

Betcher, C. & Lee, M. (2009) The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution, ACER Press
Sharma, P. & Barrett, B. (2007) Blended Learning, Macmillan





If you would like to read more in the ‘From teacher to manager…’ series, please follow the links below:


Installing a creativity app in teachers

UK vs. Oz…Same same or different?

From teacher to manager to conference speaker

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