Professional Development Workshops; Local or Overseas?

Today’s blog post is inspired by a comment that another MYP Coordinator made today when we were discussing which IB Workshops we would like hosted here, in Indonesia.

Professional development is a very important part of maintaining one’s subject knowledge, keeping up to date with the latest pedagogy, not to mention ensuring that you remain conversant with the latest in programme requirements for the IB. The IB also requires, as a bare minimum, that one teacher per subject group have attended an appropriate workshop every few years.

My last school had a very generous PD budget, and thus every teacher was able to attend appropriate workshops as and when they came up. However, the school I’m at now is slightly more restricted by our budget, essentially we have to make every workshop count as to who we send and where. It is still a generous PD budget, but we have to take the schools needs into consideration before an individual teacher’s.

Essentially each overseas IB workshop costs;

∙        $600 for workshop registration per teacher

∙        $200-$500 for flights to other cities in South East Asia. (we do not even look at flights further afield due to the costs)

∙         $150-$250 per night in a reasonable hotel

That’s close enough to $2000 per teacher per conference. You can see how that adds up quickly. We have slightly over 60 teachers in our school, but our budget is more like $10,000 per programme (PYP, MYP & DP) per year. Meaning we can send about 10 teachers overseas per year for the secondary school.

An official IB workshop held in Jakarta only costs us the workshop fee of ~$600 per teacher. This means that if we only sent teachers to local workshops we could train about 35 or 40 teachers per year for the secondary school.

What we do is try to balance the two options, particularly given the scarcity of IB workshops in Indonesia. Indonesia traditionally has a bad reputation internationally, shocking traffic and two incidents of terrorist bombs meant that the IB and the IB workshop leaders are often reluctant to come here to deliver workshops and participants from other countries were reluctant to come here.

Thus the last five to ten years has seen very few IB workshops being conducted. This is beginning to change and the IB is beginning to send teachers and workshop leaders here again, which is great news given how many IB World schools there are here.

However, our teachers here, particularly the Indonesian staff, have often been reluctant to attend local workshops. This is mainly because they want a ‘free’ trip overseas (and perhaps a feeling that local products are usually inferior).

Having seen how some staff behave when they are overseas attending workshops I am not particularly inclined to ‘waste’ 20% of our PD budget just so someone can have a free party holiday for a few days when they should be in the school teaching.

Now, of course, I know not every teacher is so unprofessional, but the sense of entitlement that can be read into comments like “I have not been overseas for training shouldn’t it be my turn?”, although understandable from an individual’s perspective does not reflect the reality or show an understanding of the ‘bigger picture’.

We do not teach individual ‘island’ classes, each of us is teaching in a team, a collaborative approach is what is required, and thus PD is a collaborative approach is a realistic way of spending a limited PD budget with, often limited options for PD.

Thus, you can imagine my surprise when trying to arrange IB World schools in Indonesia to commit to sending a couple of teachers to some official IB workshops if there were held in Jakarta or Bali in response to an offer by the IB to hold workshops in Indonesia that one of the Coordinators said,

“Don’t you think it will be better for the local Teachers to experience “international” context if they attend the workshop outside this country?”

I can only assume that this Coordinator does not have to worry about the budget for PD in the school or that their school has a much larger budget than we do.

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About Pak Liam

Living, teaching and traveling in Asia.
This entry was posted in IBO, School budgets and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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