What’s your CPD level?


March 20, 2014 by Willy Cardoso

In a recent interview, to be published soon at SEETA, I said:

… how can you possibly measure and grade teacher development? Teacher development is messy, it’s contingent. Moreover, it is highly social and context-bound. Only the idea of ticking those boxes to move up from one level to the other makes me not want to develop. And that’s where the problem is. When you make teacher development a bureaucracy with hierarchies and ‘measurable competencies’, who will genuinely want to do it?

This was in reference to tables such as the EAQUALS Profiling Grid, which aims at: “Providing an international tool for mapping and assessing language teacher competencies … [the Profiling Grid] contains descriptors over three stages of a teacher’s career development, ‘basic’, ‘independent’ and ‘proficient’”   So… Since I’m unhappy with the usual co-opting of ‘development’ which are then ‘housed’ in institutions with a lot of power, I’ll offer my own table. The World Teacher Framework (WTF) for Acid and Discontinuous Professional Development (A&D-PD) in English Language Teaching (ELT) – so, it’s the WTFA&D-PDELT (remember that, it will be ‘the’ buzzword at the next IATEFL)   level 1:

  • you start to realize that teaching ‘for real’ is very different from what you experienced in your training course
  • you can’t keep up with planning all your lessons thoroughly so you learn to just follow the coursebook
  • you are having a good time meeting new people and students from different cultures; you’re enthusiastic about your new job and working very hard to excel, but sometimes you wonder why senior teachers look so gloomy

level 2:

  • after being throw in at the deep end, and surviving, you’re now feeling more confident and able to pick up any worksheet 5 minutes before the lesson starts and roll with it
  • now that you spend a little more time actually listening to students instead of to yourself, you’re better able to plan lessons that address some of their needs
  • there isn’t much else we can say at this stage as the literature on level 2 teachers is very scarce; you’re not a newby anymore and not a senior teacher either so your status will be pretty much ‘invisible’ for awhile.

level 3:

  • after learning from experience and a handful of CPD workshops you’re now more skeptical of what your director of studies says about methodology, ‘best practice’, and buzzwords like PLN and Demand-High. You pretend to agree and carry on doing your own thing.
  • you now heard of Dogme ELT / Teaching Unplugged and you have to decide whether you strongly agree, dismissively disagree or can’t care less.
  • after all the hard work, and finding out how much the students are paying the school, you realize that your wages are pretty low and have started to consider: a) changing career, b) investing in a diploma qualification so in a couple of years you can become a teacher trainer or a DoS, c) it’s alright, at least you don’t have to wear a suit

level 4:

  • you’ve successfully managed to: a) get out of teaching full-time and do some ‘more important’ stuff like teacher training or academic management
  • your other duties inform your teaching and vice versa; you have time to consider things more globally while still at the chalkface, this keeps it real; this is an ideal situation and you shouldn’t try to move to the next level, but you’re greedy so go on

level 5:You’re amazing! Because (choose only one):

  • you’ve read all Scott Thornbury’s books, blogs and articles. You’re a Dogme teacher now and you think everyone should be. You blog about it day and night and scoff at your colleagues who still photocopy activities off Cutting Edge Pre-Intermediate.
  • you’re the only one in your school doing the ‘flipped classroom’ and you use ipads to engage your learners (by now you don’t call them ‘students’ anymore).
  • you are a conference geek. Some of your colleagues don’t understand why you’re wasting your weekend on this but every Monday you come energized and full of great ideas you cannot apply because your school doesn’t have IWBs, and you teach 35 kids in a hot room somewhere in an industrial city in Latin America and not 8 middle-class, gap-year European teens taking a leisurely time in a study abroad programme in England. But conferences are good fun, they have Pecha Kucha and you can tell Jeremy Harmer you follow him on twitter.
  • all of the above. Plus, you call yourself an educator (not a teacher anymore)

level 6

  • you have achieved the highest level of CPD for an EFL teacher, and that means you’re not an EFL teacher anymore! Now you only: a) talk about it at conferences, b) write resources for other (real) teachers to follow, or c) you’re a DOS

An infinitely more serious and scholarly note on assessing teacher training and development will be discussed at: Box-ticking or mind-mapping? Questions about ELT professional knowledge – Divya Madhavan and Willy Cardoso IATEFL Harrogate: Wednesday 2nd April – 5:10pm


4 thoughts on “What’s your CPD level?

  1. philipjkerr says:

    How about adding for level 2: You hang out around social media sites, click the ‘like’ button fairly frequently, start and abandon your own blog, and begin to have DOUBTS.

  2. Reblogged this on Stop Complaining – Enjoy Teaching! and commented:
    Willy C. Cardoso has some interesting (and funny) insights into how we grow as teachers. And while it might apply a bit more to language school teachers than to public school teachers, there’s a lot of truth in it for all of us.

  3. […] What’s your CPD level? While this may be more about language school teachers, there is so much here that applies to all of us English language teachers who want to improve in our profession no matter where we teach. Excellent! (and funny). […]

  4. Kathy says:

    Laughing my head off … scarily accurate, except level 4 and level 5 are kind of swapped for me. Tips on how to avoid level 6 pls? 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

receive new posts by email.

Join 485 other followers


Events 2015

IATEFL Manchester, UK
10 April, 2014
TDSIG PCE: Challenges and Rewards
More info

IATEFL Manchester, UK
12 April, 2015
Talk: Initial teacher training: challenges and innovations in course design

23 March, 2015 - Kragujevac
28 March, 2015 - Belgrade
Theme: Assessment: who is it for?
More info



%d bloggers like this: