High-quality professional development contributes to high-quality pedagogical practice
There is a broad consensus among researchers, organizations, and policy makers that the outcomes for children, and ultimately families are strongly related to the quality of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) that they receive. Quality pedagogy depends on well-educated and qualified staff. As schools and preschools become ever-more diverse, having well-trained teachers and staff becomes more important than ever. Teachers need to be able to assess everyday teaching situations and develop teaching responses that can be effective for all children under different circumstances.
According to TALIS 2018, educators who participated in continuous professional development (CPD) activities focused on teaching in diverse classrooms, tended to report feeling elevated levels of self-efficacy to continue teaching effectively in these environments. However, high quality CPD activities cannot exist without high calibre practitioners to deliver this training. Despite their unique and important role in society, CPD educators have long been neglected from policy and research.
Principles of Quality in Education of Teachers (PIQET)
To this end, the Educational Research Institute, Open Academy Step by Step in Croatia, and the International Step by Step Association in the Netherlands have established a consortium for developing a set of Principles of Quality in Education of Teachers (PIQET).
The PIQET project which has received funding from the Erasmus+ program, will run for thirty-six months — from January 2022 to January 2025. In this time, the project will work towards strengthening the organizational capacities of its partner organizations to improve the selection, recruitment, and development of professional development educators.
What is the consortium aiming to achieve through the PIQET project?
With social justice, interculturalism, and human rights in education at the heart of the project, the consortium aims to establish a benchmark for high quality CPD and a mutual understanding of its importance at both an individual level (for the educators) and an organizational level.
Alongside this, the project sets out to strengthen the professional development of kindergarten and schoolteachers to help them support the multiple needs of the increasingly diverse population of children in ECEC and primary schools. High quality CPD events and training are beneficial in equipping teachers with these necessary soft skills. In short, PIQET:
- Promotes the high-quality continuous professional development of CPD educators and their crucial role in nurturing high-quality pedagogical practice.
- Strives to raise the profile of CPD educators to ensure context-responsive, high-quality, continuous professional development opportunities.
- Enables sophisticated, reflective, and performance-driven networks of CPD educators to grow and thrive.
What will the consortium produce?
In order to implement the “Principles of Quality Education of Teachers” (PIQET), the consortium will create various learning resources with which to help partners and PD educators establish a definition of high-quality CPD. At the outset, the consortium will develop an instrument based on PIQET which will be used before and after the implementation of PIQET to evaluate the impact of the project.
PIQET will then be deployed through a mix of online and off-line events in Croatia and Slovenia. The consortium will create various three-day training module courses for CPD educators to equip them with the skills necessary to put PIQET into practice in the field. Additionally, the consortium will develop a handbook containing examples of how PIQET can be applied in practice by CPD educators, as well as a pilot module. The project consortium will also host dissemination events in the form of national conferences in Croatia and Slovenia, and an international online dissemination event hosted by ISSA.
PIQET will develop innovative methodology to help CPD educators reflect on quality, by improving their skills of self-assessment and peer-to-peer assessment, as well as aiding in the recruitment, selection, and development of CPD educators. Ultimately, PIQET aims to invest in expanding high quality professional development educator networks across Europe, to give each child the best chance possible.