CPD for Teachers: Embracing Personal Development to Unlock the Extraordinary in Every Child

By Graham Moore


As a teacher, continuous professional development (CPD) is essential to improve and maintain your professional skills and knowledge. However, have you ever stopped to consider the importance of incorporating personal development into your CPD journey?

The education sector is full of people and relationships, both good and not-so-good. Taking a couple of hours to reflect on your personal development in relation to your job can only benefit you and your students in the long run. In fact, the successful and highly acclaimed CPD sessions that I have been running for over 20 years are entitled “The Heart of Education”. These sessions focus on the assumption that personal growth comes before professional development, and the results speak for themselves.

We live in a world where extraordinary people are celebrated and revered, with celebrity culture and stardom seemingly taking priority over everything else. From watching our favourite sports stars to idolising political and religious leaders, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of greatness. But the truth is, only a tiny percentage of humans in history have achieved immortality and had their names preserved for eternity. The rest of us mere mortals may never be known or remembered, and one day the last person to know us will pass away, taking with them our footprint in the world.

It’s easy to forget about the inner beauty in ourselves and others. We’re taught from a young age to compare ourselves to others, to see who is bigger, better, faster, and stronger. If we don’t excel in sports or academics, we quickly learn that there’s nothing special about us. This leads to a feeling of being average and unremarkable, something that plagues many of us throughout our lives.

The biographies and autobiographies of the rich and famous sell in their millions because people want to know their stories, yet this only serves to increase the sense of inadequacy in our own lives. Meanwhile, the characters that lived on my working-class Merseyside council estate in the seventies could have inspired a best-selling movie. These ordinary people living extraordinary lives went unnoticed, but that doesn’t mean their stories didn’t matter.

It’s only at birth and death ceremonies that we truly celebrate the wonder of human life. But as teachers, we have the incredible opportunity to be part of a child’s story, to help shape their future and write a chapter of their own. This is a profound role, and one that should be embraced with humility and respect.

As my career comes to a close, I’m humbled to hear from the young people whose paths I’ve crossed, paying tribute to the role I played in their lives. I encourage all of my colleagues in education to start seeing the extraordinary in every student they work with. Look beyond the mundane and see the individual soul of each child. When you treat them as the special person they are, you liberate them from their own sense of being average. Your expectations of them will rise, and in turn, so will theirs. They’ll start to believe they’re special and do special things.

Incorporating personal development into your CPD journey as a teacher will not only benefit your students, but it will also have a positive impact on your own life. Self-reflection and growth can lead to greater empathy, understanding, and a better connection with your students. It can also help you navigate the challenges of the education sector and find purpose in your role as a teacher.

There’s no such thing as an average person, and as teachers, it’s our job to see the extraordinary in every child we meet. Embrace the importance of personal development in your CPD journey and unlock your full potential as an educator.

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