I guess I’m a nerd. I used to love filling in my PDP at work and hated when my PDA’s were cancelled and I couldn’t get some sign off on some of my targets or input on others or approval for others. I was strict about my own staff’s personal development plans, I was keen to know how they were getting on, what I could do to help, what they thought they needed rather than what I imagined they needed and I loved to see them develop and progress in their careers. I wanted them to grow, build a range of skills and move on to bigger and better things. I hated to cancel their appraisal meetings and updates, I would always prepare myself for them even if it meant working all weekend reading their submissions and adding my own thoughts to them ready for when we could sit and have a nice cuppa and chat about what was going on in their work lives.
I’m a firm believer in planning when it comes to career progression. We have to be aware of where we might want to go and what it might take to get there if we want to go anywhere. Some people are happy to arrive and stay but I’ve always been the sort who arrives knowing what I want next and so the minute I arrive my focus shifts to what I want next. (Digression here: This is sometimes to my detriment as I might not focus as much on something that feels like a means to an end as I should. That would be true of learning but not of work. I can skim through learning, I can achieve decent enough grades on my own using some common sense and lots of reading but I can’t short change anyone I’m working for. I have to give my all. I have to feel that I earn my pay. I have to go home every night satisfied that I did my best and deserve paying for it.)
But yeah, I like to plan. I also like to reflect. I’m naturally reflective and do it constantly in all things. I even have weekly motherhood appraisal from the kids and it works, they tell me what I do well and where I could improve and it’s all very open and honest. I know where I could improve I know how others perceive me. I’m highly intuitive and know that lots of people find my methods strange and find my lack of social engagement odd. Sometimes I just can’t be bothered with things or people that are transient in my life, there doesn’t seem any point. Crikey if I’d stayed in touch with every transient person in my life I’d have millions of people to think about and I can’t handle more than a couple.
So I’m under no illusion that a) I’m perfect or b) I’m liked by everyone. Those two certain truths help me to be more realistic about life. Firstly, I don’t have to be perfect and secondly I don’t like everyone either so that’s OK. This basis then means that when I identify areas for improvement or others point them out to me I can accept that critique, take it on one of my chins and see it as something of a challenge to turn around. I also see my own part to play in things that go wrong and so I can see what I have to do to make them right. I also realise that being professional means that you don’t have to like people or deal with them not liking you to work with them. If I’d liked everyone I’d ever worked with in my life I’d be a saint and yet I’ve managed to work professionally with everyone I’ve worked with… I think 😉 I can also see if something is a fair critique or not, if it comes from somewhere darker due to poor relationships and that helps set things into context further.
I don’t take critique personally (as in get upset by it) then. I embrace it and I turn it around into something positive and good. These two reasons are why I love having an ILP and why I don’t see it as a bind but as a valuable tool in becoming a better teacher. After all that’s what I want to be, the best teacher I possibly can be, I want to share my knowledge, I want to inspire and motivate, I want to create a comfortable learning environment, I want happy classes, I want confident students, I want to meet targets, I want to be a valuable member of a successful team, I want to contribute to changing and shaping lives. I’ve always wanted to do that, I’ve already done that and achieved that in so many instances private life and work and in the community but this is the time to find out how to do it properly, how to be a proper teacher in a proper environment and do it right. This is where I get to find out where years of trial and error, years of theorising and academic debate, decades of structuring and restructuring have brought us and what a modern teacher does, how it’s done and why. How am I going to embrace all of that and do what I need to do if I can’t understand where I am starting from?
My ILP gives me a snapshot of where I am and it shows what my next step is and what my ultimate goals are. It allows me to plan for the short term and long term and identify what I need to do along the way in short easy to accomplish steps, breaking down the long haul into short trips with regular stop offs to take a breather, look back and look forward, think, assess and adjust.
My ILP is flexible it’s not cast in stone I don’t have to meet all of my targets, some might be pipe dreams some might be unachievable in the whole scheme of things and some might become defunct as I move along the path no matter how relevant they seemed at the beginning. Some of course are must do’s and they stand out as the priorities. See it makes planning easier too, you can easily order your objectives into must do’s and might do’s and will do’s and maybes. Taking the stress off.
I also feel that once in work as a teacher the ILP will form the basis of CPD and feed into my future development, it will keep me grounded in where I came from and lead me into where I’m going next.
Some might see it as a worthless exercise, another piece of paper to write on but we are heading into a profession, one where personal development is of paramount importance to ensure that we remain on top of our game and keep our knowledge up to to date and never get to a point where we rest on our laurels and think we know it all and there’s nothing left for us to do. We will never be perfect teachers, we can only keep on trying to be the best we can be and this little document is integral to that whole process.