As a teacher, I have encountered a vast range of professional development (PD) over the years. Some, mostly concerned with the gathering bureaucracy and safeguards constructed around the teaching profession, have been necessary, but rarely inspiring and certainly have not helped me in the core business of teaching. While as a community we may, for good reasons, need to ensure that those entrusted with the education of children and emerging adults are, in-so-far as can be judged, fit and safe to have such trust, we should not for a moment think that fulfilling these criteria helps in any way teachers to be good at their craft. Nor should we deceive ourselves that the process of demonstrating we are good teachers enables us to be so.

There has been a significant amount of PD aimed at helping me to be a good teacher which hasn’t helped much at all. Sometimes this has been because it rests upon dubious premises; mistaking, for example, tactics that work for surface learning as being applicable to all types of learning or confusing teaching with learning. Sometimes I have wondered whether the presenter has any idea of transferring what they are saying into what they are doing.

However, there have also been some truly exceptional PDs that have either inspired me or equipped me to be a better practitioner, or both. Dr Jared Horvath’s seminar on surface, deep and transfer learning immediately springs to mind. If you ever have the chance to hear him or bring him in for a seminar, do so.

Good as these have been, without doubt the most useful PD, in terms of both immediate bang-for-buck and long-term payback has been the DISC model of human behaviour. This has been for a range of reasons, among which are:

  • Whatever education may be about, it is about building relationships. Nearly all the PD I have done in the educational relationship area has been aspirational but impractical, long on why but very short on how, or what I’d call second stage ideas – methodologies that are OK in themselves but rely on having established prior knowledge which is assumed but not articulated; or a combination of the three. The DISC model provides a starting point in the relationship building process which is practical and easy to apply. It is highly adaptive across age ranges and cultures.
  • DISC integrates with ideas about and observations of different learning styles. It helps get behind why different people like to learn differently and helps students as well as teachers develop a variety of learning and teaching tactics.

While there is a lot of DISC material available on the web, it is largely over-simplified, poorly articulated, and lacks explicit educational application. If you are going to bother adding a tool to your teaching toolbox, then learn how to use it well. That’s where the upcoming 2-day seminar in Canberra is a fantastic opportunity, not least of all because it’s the first time it has been offered in Australia.

Follow the link to learn more and register. Do it now – there are only 10 days left before the early bird registration closes.

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