On the Wednesday I was up bright and early (and only slightly hungover…) for a session on Continuing Professional Development and mentoring for chartership. The first section, on CPD, was lead by Carol Barker.
Carol mentioned the CILIP CPD scheme, explaining that it is not yet finalised so the speakers could only speculate as to how it would look when it is. She went on to talk about the purpose of CPD: summing it up very succinctly as “learning and reflection, applied to the real world”. She talked about the need to incorporate various activities into your CPD plan – going on courses is a great idea if you have something specific you need to learn, but can be a passive experience. Taking part in other activities such as workshops and networking events forces you to get fully involved. Carol also stressed the need to take yourself outside of your comfort zone, volunteer for things that are different from your usual experience – you learn more that way than by taking the safe route.
Different ways you can build up your CPD were explored – Carol suggested on-the-job CPD, such as visits/shadowing, job rotation, project work and running/taking part in staff awareness meetings; and developing your own professional involvement, e.g. by contributing to the LIS literature or joining a committee. What I did find interesting here was that Carol described building a professional network as vital, but when she got onto web 2.0 tools said that she didn’t see the point of Twitter. I don’t want to get evangelical about a particular tool here, but I do have to point out that Twitter has probably been the single most useful tool to me in terms of building a professional network and supporting my own development. I just found it odd that she seemed so dismissive – although she did admit that she’d only used Twitter briefly, and that she was willing to give it another chance, so that’s fair enough.
Some of the obstacles to effective CPD were briefly mentioned; mainly lack of time and resources, particularly if you are a solo librarian and/or your employer is not supportive. There wasn’t much exploration of practical solutions to this though, which I thought was a little disappointing – I’m sure there’s a lot of people in that position who would appreciate some solid advice. Carol finished her section by emphasising the importance of reflecting on your CPD – without the reflection phase, any new ideas will be lost. She suggested jotting down your thoughts asap – what was the course/etc actually about? How would you apply it to your own role? I’m totally in agreement with Carol here – that’s basically what I started this blog for!
I enjoyed Carol’s talk, but have to admit that I don’t think I really learned anything new from it. A lot of it seemed farily self-explanatory to me – which admittedly is probably down to the fact that I’m still studying, so I’m fairly immersed in learning as it is; I can see a session like this as more beneficial to people who’ve been out of education for a number of years. It would have been nice to see some more practical advice on, for example, how to secure funding from your employer for CPD opportunities, but I also appreciate that there probably wasn’t the time to go into so much depth!
The second half of the session was Carol Brooks‘ talk on “Mentoring and Support for Mentors”. It was interesting to hear from the perspective of those actually involved in the mentoring process – I am still in two minds as to whether or not I should charter, so I’m always glad to hear from anyone involved in the process at all. The session was very much aimed at existing mentors or people who were thinking about mentoring, so some of it went a little over my head; but I am glad I stayed to listen, it gave me a bit of food for thought.
Speaking of chartering, there’s actually been a really interesting discussion happening on Twitter this evening about the pros and cons! I came a little late to the discussion so was mainly just reading everyone else’s tweets (no hashtag or I’d link to it!) but it was good to know that other people are engaged in the same decision. I honestly don’t know whether I should or not at this point – I would like to continue with my own CPD/PPD, and chartering does seem like the next logical step, but I’m not sure what I’d get out of ticking that particular box that I wouldn’t just from continuing with the same kinds of professional activities I’m involved in now.