Key Insight/Policy Recommendations are that a participatory workshop model of continuing professional development, organised through regional clusters, offers a very productive way to bring benefits like the following to Irish Post-primary schools
- strengthening teachers’ capacities as the authors of their own work and as their own best critics;
- enabling students to become active and responsible participants in their own learning ;
- enhancing the leadership capacity of post-primary schools, both in vision and in action.
Both the project and the ongoing Professional Development Programme avail mainly of an action research approach, where participating teachers use ideas from educational research to promote changes in their own practice and in the learning environments where they work.
Participants who are following the university accreditation track pursue an MEd through action research and thus contribute a yield of new insights to professional knowledge. Other participants have their involvement accredited by the relevant Education Centre or VEC.
The project has established and verified that continuing professional development for teachers is particularly promising when organised through a series of participatory workshops in regional centres . The ongoing work of the TL21 Professional Development Programme with four Education Centres and one VEC is promoting the following features which the TL21 project developed as its key principles of practice.
- active participation by teachers in the conduct of workshops,
- purposeful collaboration , leading to teachers themselves playing a central part in planning the workshops;
- clearly defined tasks for each workshop - organised in a developmental sequence;
- introduction and monitoring of initiatives in classrooms by teachers in the intervals between workshops;
- analysis of the fruits of such initiatives at workshops and sharing of ideas and experiences;
- promotion of vibrant teacher networks and professional learning communities.