One of my fondest memories of teaching dates back some twenty years ago to a school production of the musical Godspell, which features a song – “Learn your Lessons well” – that includes the refrain “First ya gotta read 'em, then ya gotta heed 'em. Ya never know when you're gonna need 'em… You better start to learn your lessons well!”. Perhaps not the most obvious place to look for guidance about CPD, but it sums up the process quite neatly.
Humour me a few moments longer. Let’s take the two key stages that are implied by the lyrics in turn.
First, you need to identify what you need to learn, find a source of information to support you, and read it. Simple enough – and easy to achieve using the Development Zone by either browsing our ever expanding content catalogue, identifying a topic that has been assigned to you by your line manager (perhaps even an item of custom content), or using the Ask the DevZone feature to identify an appropriate activity.
Once you’ve found the source of the information, you then need to work through it – reading or participating as required. As you complete this stage, your progress might be recorded in your T&C plan and will normally appear as entries in your activity records. You’ll also have the framework of basic information needed to complete an entry in your CPD record.
The second stage mentioned is heeding the lessons – in other words, applying what you’ve learned. This is the element that people tend to focus on actually doing, but not recording. When you’ve completed a topic, there’s a natural instinct to find ways to use the knowledge that you’ve gained and apply it to your work. For example, if you’ve just completed a module about money laundering and financial crime, you’ll probably look more closely at the next transaction you handle to see if you can identify any of the tell-tale signs that you’ve just been learning about.
Applying the knowledge that you’ve gained is great – after all, that’s the main reason you’ve been doing the training. However, it needs to be sustained over time rather than just for the short period after you’ve completed the training. This is where the reflection in your CPD record is really important.
By taking a few minutes to think about what you’ve learned, and to add a note to indicate how your new knowledge will affect your work/approach to a task, or what further training needs may have been highlighted, you will be helping to consolidate your understanding, and increasing the chances that you’ll apply it in the future.
Completing the reflection in CPD records is actually quite challenging for most people – including me! – so it might help to consider it in two stages. First, record an immediate reflection at the end of the training with your initial thoughts about what was most useful and if you can, identify how you will apply what you’ve learned. Then, follow up a few weeks later by reviewing the entry in your CPD and adding any further notes to your initial reflection. For example, you might have used your new knowledge in a particular situation to help you achieve a better outcome for a client, or you might have used information that you’d previously considered unimportant to solve a problem.
Your CPD record is an important document that, when completed well, will demonstrate to your line manager, professional body and the regulator that you take training and competence seriously and maintain an appropriate level of technical knowledge. It can also provide a handy reference point to identify key topics that you need to refresh on a regular basis.
In the same way that every day is different and potentially brings different challenges, you may also be asked to provide evidence of your CPD at any time, so it’s worth bearing in mind – “Ya never know when you're gonna need 'em… You better start to learn your lessons well!”.
If you need additional support with recording your CPD on the Development Zone, why not start with the DevZone Academy, which contains a whole range of topics about getting the best from the platform, or try the CPD Mentor feature (the blue “Improve” buttons) in your CPD Record.
* Godspell lyrics © 1970 Stephen Schwartz