The Importance of Continuous Professional Development & the Erasmus Experience

I was recently asked to write some anecdotes regarding my recent experience of participating in an Erasmus Mobility in Austria during 2017.  I am not a regular blogger when it comes to writing articles for inclusion in the tutor newsletter or elsewhere for that matter.  To begin, I felt it was important to consider, “why continuous professional development is so important?

I have been with the service in one way or another for a long time.  When you come out of college, fresh from the experience with your shiny new degree and bubbling with enthusiasm, you might be forgiven the naivety of assuming, “That’s it, job done! No more study for me!”.  You settle in to your routine as a professional educator and with the passage of time, the glossy notes you produced start to become dated and fade, your audience have become more sophisticated, technology has moved on.  And trying to balance work commitments with home life may lead you to the conclusion that it is impossible to find time to fit anything else in.  But one wonders, how can we expect our own learners to commit to the notion of lifelong learning, if we are selves do not subscribe to the same principals?

Over the past year or two, I have taken part in a number of WIT modules leading to the ‘Higher Certificate in Arts in Literacy Development’, which have been delivered in Kerry with the support of the Adult Literacy & Basic Education Service.  I have found them to be challenging; they take you out of your comfort zone, they remind you of what it’s like to be an adult learner and leave you feeling re-energised.

When I travelled to Austria to take part in an Erasmus Mobility, I did not know what to expect having never participated in one before.  I went with seven other tutors from the ABE Service, some I knew, and some I knew of, but had never met before.

Participants from Finland, Greece, Spain, Estonia, Portugal and last but not least, Ireland attended this week long workshop.  The focus of which was on the use of tablets and smart technology in a variety of settings, both indoor and out.

The sessions where designed to inspire individuals to consider the benefit of tablet technology and the role that it plays in education.  Working with teachers from other countries was a great opportunity to share experiences, learn from those experiences and appreciate those things we have in common. You have to be willing to look beyond the limitations of tradition and your own experiences as a teacher to date in order to think outside of the box and apply the new skills you have learned to your own practise.  It was also a great opportunity to network with my own colleagues and to be able to appreciate the possibilities of our shared expertise!  I can honestly say I came away from the experience feeling inspired.

It was a pleasure to share some of what I learned during the ‘Tutor Day’ held recently in Tralee and with other colleagues across the different programmes I deliver in.  I have started to incorporate the use of tablets in to the work I do with the service and have found the feedback to be very positive.

I cannot recommend the Erasmus programme highly enough and will treasure the opportunities it presented me with.  If you are reading this footnote and have not taken part in any of the continuous professional development opportunities facilitated by Kerry ETB thus far, “just go for it”!

Ger Ferris