The Pursuit of Inspiring CPD: Empowered Educators – No Rocket Science Required

by Helen Caroline Bowen

Taking on the role of High School and Middle School Principal at Tarabya British Schools, Istanbul, at the start of this academic year brought with it the privilege of crafting the professional development provisions, how they contribute to the acquisition and application of knowledge, and how the nature of knowledge influences the effectiveness of diverse approaches to professional growth to have a lasting impact for our students.


In my quest to create a programme tailored to our cultural context, I observed that Continuing Professional Development (CPD) extends beyond enhancing teachers’ instructional skills. It encompasses mentoring, coaching, fostering trust, and instilling a mindset for reflection and continuous improvement. (Avalos, 2011). 

I have myself been fortunate to engage in many diverse CPD opportunities, such as IB and CIE training, Thinking Schools programmes, financial support for my Master’s degree, and participating in courses facilitated by external companies and through all of these I was able to grow, develop and use most of what I learnt. It was during one of the latest sessions that a colleague’s remark resonated, highlighting that CPD often consisted of standalone short courses that lacked follow-up throughout the year and were often not relevant to their work. Recognising the disconnect between imposed CPD and individual needs, I conceived the idea of establishing in-house parallel programmes. Programmes not only allow staff the opportunity to choose their learning pathways but also tap into internal expertise, cultivating an environment that promotes inclusivity and supports the professional development of teachers, as outlined in ‘Nurturing inclusivity and professional growth among vocational teachers through communities of practice’ (Smeplass, 2023).

Through learning walks and general observations during the first few weeks of the academic year, it became apparent that there were some of our teachers that needed support and upskilling with Behaviour Management while other staff needed to build on their knowledge of how to develop Critical Thinking in our students, two very different and diverse topics.


With the two areas identified, I was then able to plan a sequence of units for each of the sessions over the course of the year. Having worked at a school where there was a wealth of training materials and courses available, I observed that most staff didn’t prioritise CPD due to the absence of a designated time. Recognising its significance, I took the initiative to schedule a dedicated CPD slot once a month in the calendar.

The first CPD session brought everyone together to introduce a Whole School initiative to begin every lesson with a ‘Do Now’ activity, a hook into the lesson, that students would be able to get on with independently as they arrived into class. This session was also to model to the staff how to lead a CPD session and to introduce the concept of the options available. Staff were then invited to sign up for which programme they wished to follow for the year and also to volunteer to lead some of the sessions. The team were enthusiastic and I was extremely pleased that I did not need to over-sell the concept to gain buy-in. However, I did point out that Harvard Research (Parsons, 2024) showed that CPD opportunities tend to open up career advancement, it would look great on the CV and would provide a great topic discussion in any future interviews.


While some staff received coaching to determine the most suitable program, the majority independently selected relevant programmes, as observed. The schedule was displayed in the staff room, and a week before the sessions, reminders were sent to those responsible for designing and leading them. Presenters were encouraged to share their plans, and interestingly, much of the advice revolved around incorporating more hands-on activities into their sessions, as we know, teachers can make the worst students. The success of the programmes hinged on the initial sessions running smoothly and ensuring that staff found value in their participation. Lists were distributed ahead of each session, serving as reminders for staff regarding their assigned sessions and locations, contributing to the overall efficiency. It was crucial to reiterate to other members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) the significance of these sessions, requiring a firm stance on rescheduling only when a new time had been agreed upon.

I experienced a personal moment of pride when the first sessions went seamlessly and received positive acclaim. Providing constructive feedback to the presenters, I focused on areas for improvement as expressed by the participants themselves, empowering and encouraging them to take on more challenges.

Continuing Phases: Reflections and Takeaways

In alignment with the commencement of the next academic year, expanding the range of available in-house CPD options should be offered, and further developing communities of practice, the emphasis should be on building upon the lessons learned. 

Exploring strategies to assess the impact comprehensively and effectively is essential. Delving into methodologies to gauge the tangible outcomes and effectiveness of initiatives. Examining various metrics and indicators to quantify the influence and significance of implemented changes. Evaluating the broader implications and repercussions of actions taken, with a keen emphasis on measurable and observable results. Seeking robust measurement tools to capture both quantitative and qualitative aspects, providing a holistic understanding of the overall impact. 

Creating more opportunities for session feedback from participants and introducing staff project opportunities during the courses are essential aspects. Adhering to the established structure, where time is carefully allocated, is crucial. Recognising the value of diverse perspectives, the goal is to unite the staff and appreciate the unique voices within the team. Finally, it is important to remember that in-house CPD initiatives are designed to complement external opportunities, ensuring a diverse range of learning experiences for the staff. Then the focus, therefore, for all schools must remain on maintaining a diverse, engaging and enriching CPD landscape led by a number of key stakeholders including teachers and senior leadership.


Avalos, B. (2011) Teacher Professional Development in teaching and teacher education over …, Research Gate. Available at: (Accessed: 03 February 2024). 

Parsons, L. (2024) Why is professional development important? – professional & executive development: Harvard DCE, Professional & Executive Development | Harvard DCE. Available at: (Accessed: 03 February 2024). 

Smeplass, E. (2023) Full article: Nurturing inclusivity and professional growth among …, Taylor and Francis online. Available at: (Accessed: 03 February 2024). 

Helen Caroline Bowen is the High School and Middle School Principal of Tarabya British Schools, Istanbul

To connect with Helen on LinkedIn, click here

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1 thought on “<strong>The Pursuit of Inspiring CPD: Empowered Educators – No Rocket Science Required</strong>”

  1. Thank you, Helen, for sharing! Your emphasis on crafting a tailored program that goes beyond enhancing instructional skills to encompass mentoring, coaching, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement is truly commendable. Your recognition of the disconnect between imposed CPD and individual needs is insightful, and your solution of establishing in-house parallel programs is innovative and inclusive. your dedication to creating a diverse, engaging, and enriching CPD landscape within Tarabya British Schools is evident throughout your thoughtful approach and proactive measures. This initiative not only benefits the professional growth of staff but also contributes to the overall enhancement of the educational experience for students. Well done on your efforts to foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement within your school community! All the best!

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