IATEFL Belfast 2022: CPD for materials writers: in search of a framework – Denise Santos

Denise’s website is www.denisesantos.com.

When Denise first started teaching, her CPD was mostly managed by the institutions she worked in. The first materials she published, she had no training in materials writing – she wrote what she thought was best. When she did her MA, she started to see things in a more complex way. When she did her PhD, things got more complex, but she was very confident and happy with the way things were. She was happy with what she learnt.

In 2020, there were too many options. Too many courses. Too many live sessions. The topics were completely new – new ways of teaching and learning that she wasn’t used to, and she had to write materials for these things. She found herself doing too many things and not knowing where these things were leading to in her CPD.

Her first CPD questions were focussed on what: what should I do? What shouldn’t I do? But that isn’t enough – we also need to know the why.

She went onto social media to see what people were talking about. People were thinking about their CPD plans for the future, for 2022. Here are some of the things people were talking about:

But still, the focus is too much on the what. There are some whys here, but it’s not systematic. For what purpose and how do I know?

The framework we tend to talk about

We plan/define what we’re going to do, we do it, then hopefully we apply it. Stopping at applying it isn’t enough, Denise says. We need to have more higher-order thinking skills.

When Denise searched for “CPD for materials writers”, she got 5 hits, and 2 were for this talk! Others led her to this book:

There wasn’t much on the continuing professional development for materials writers.

The literature

There is a lot of research about materials.

Very little about implementation of materials

Very little about writers and the writing process

Very little about writers’ (C)PD

Musing

We are materials writers, but …of what? …for what? Are you clear about this for yourself? For Denise, the teaching side of what she writes is important to her, so she looked at the models proposed for teacher development to see if they could inspire her.

Frameworks for teachers

  • Subject matter knowledge
  • General pedagogical knowledge
  • Pedagogical content knowledge
  • Knowledge of context

This is one way of breaking down what we know.

Here’s another example of a framework:

British Council teacher framework: This talks about four levels: awareness, understanding, engagement, integration. Around these four levels, there are 12 professional practices, including pedagogical, content, context issues.

The level Denise wants to draw our attention to is ‘taking responsibility for professional development’:

Evaluating is great to include, but Denise isn’t sure about how this could be done. Maybe it should be a more integrated part of the sequence of the 4 levels?

Insights from these frameworks

  • Action (and application) not enough
  • We need analysis and evaluation (how?) e.g. Borg, 2018

There were 374 impressions, but only 10 votes. The comments stayed at the application level of CPD.

Denise also looked at frameworks from other areas, not just ELT:

A tentative framework

It’s much more complex!

How do you know whether your professional development is effective or not?

Answers to questions

Should we work towards this individually or as groups? Working together could help us come up with a repertoire of techniques we could use for our own development and for evaluating it.

Final note from me

Here’s an article I wrote for Humanising Language Teaching with some ideas for developing as a materials writer which you might be interested in.

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