Advocacy for continuing education training

Continuing education is a springboard for our personal and professional aspirations, but also for those of the people around us and the institution we represent.

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It is not uncommon for people to ask me why I am so involved in continuing education activities. Basically, what is it really for? My salary does not go up according to the diplomas that I post on the wall. In addition, I am adding a workload by embarking on such a time-consuming and energy-intensive business. After all, I am already qualified in the eyes of the law to practice my profession.

A personal approach

Let's say there are personal reasons and professional reasons, and sometimes the two are intertwined. On a personal level, I think I have an important duty as a parent to my daughters: what message do I send them when I say that school is important and that they will be lifelong learners? Can I truly be the apostle of the lifelong learner and post-secondary education, when I completed my undergraduate studies almost 20 years ago? After all this time in education, including fourteen in management, I understand that the complexity of the situations to which I am subjected daily exceeds the skills that I developed at the beginning of my career.

School, a must to endure?

I believe that I have a duty of consistency between who I am, what I do and what I say. We ask students to make sacrifices in their academic progress and we often do so in a paternalistic tone; the famous "I've been there, too" often makes us believe that school is a necessary step to endure. I can understand that it is natural to reproduce the school practices we witnessed a few decades ago. Yet shouldn't we ask ourselves if everything is the same today as it was a few decades ago?

And from that, two sub-questions arise: how do we update our practices according to the needs of our young people and what efforts are we making to understand their educational and social reality without necessarily resorting to our own conceptions of "the good". old times "?

Have the boots that follow the lips

I am a school worker, I believe in the importance of training young people as a lever for social improvement and cultural passage. I promote lifelong learning. I must practice what I preach and demonstrate, through my actions, that what is true for our young people is true for those who accompany them. It is a question of consistency which is dear to me, which closely affects my values and which guides my professional life.

Personal development serves as the backbone of professional development. I have noticed that what I learn not only affects the quality of my work, but also the person I become. In fact, I never "am"; I become ". I evolve, I improve and I get better. This is true as a person, but it is also true as a professional. I have a relentless drive to become a better school principal, and in this process I attempt to do the same with those around me. This is how I have an impact in my community, with others. Alone, we may be going faster, but in education, going faster than the preconceptions of students, parents, teachers and members of management is a utopia!

A professional approach

On a strictly professional level, I feel a need to take a step back from my own practices. Do I meet the specific needs of those I supervise? In education, whether we are in management or in teaching, we do not ask ourselves enough questions in the course of our professional practice. We are completely overwhelmed by the urgency of everyday life. Continuing education is reflective practice in action for action. It is to avoid being in reaction to register in the proaction and also in the development of sharp reflexes, shaped by training. It is "weighing on pause" to escape the urgency that I impose on myself, that others impose on me and that I feed. I feed this urgency which prevents me from taking the time. I can turn the tide and have some control over what I think is eluding me: time.

In addition, during my continuing education activities, I meet a plethora of fascinating people who have professional backgrounds and personalities different from mine. They contribute enormously to who I become and I feel valued when I can contribute to their process. Therefore, continuing education is not only the content that we learn, but also, it is those that we work with and with whom there is a sharing of expertise.

You can't buy experience, but it's not a guarantee of success either!

What I learn at university has no meaning if I cannot transfer it quickly to my practice, knowing full well that this knowledge cannot be generalized. I learn to respond better to a unique and real professional situation and I appreciate its complexity. I am comfortable not having a recipe for tackling every problem I am faced with. I develop the right reflexes in action and when this is not the case, I know that I have a safety net formed by those with whom I evolve in my continuing education process. In addition, in sports language, we say that “experience cannot be bought”. In education, it's the same thing: experience or seniority is not a guarantee of success and it is in this sense that the “experience - continuing education” combo becomes essential.

The benefits aren't just for me. They are for those around me too. For example, I intervene better with my colleagues and I also give better advice. Ditto for the students and their parents. Every day I become more credible since I am more and more solid in the management of the issues that are submitted to me. Continuing education brings me ease and, de facto, confidence in my professional resources.

The hard return to reality

I have learned to accept that when I resume my regular professional activities after a training session, I will be inundated with emails, calls to return and people wanting to see me. Despite everything, this moment of pause will have been necessary for me, but also for those who expect a return from me.

Despite everything, I believe that when we continue our training, particularly at the second or third cycle of university, we have a responsibility to make the effort to share what we learn and disseminate its effects to our professional community.

In short, I firmly believe that continuing education is a real springboard for our personal and professional aspirations, but also for those of the people around us and the institution we represent.

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About the Author

Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard holds a bachelor's degree in humanities education (1999), a master's degree in history teaching (2003) and a master's degree in educational management (2013). He is currently a doctoral student in school administration. He specializes in change management in schools as well as in educational leadership. He is also interested in 21st century skills to be developed in education. He holds a managerial position in a public primary school and gives lectures on educational leadership, pedagogical approaches, change in the school environment as well as on the professionalization of teaching. He took part in educational expeditions to France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Morocco. In September 2014, he published the book “Le change en milieu scolaire québécois” with Éditions Reynald Goulet and, in 2019, he published a trilogy on the school of the 21st century with the same publisher. He frequently collaborates with L'École branchée on educational issues. He is very involved in everything that surrounds the professional development of teachers and school administrators as well as the integration of ICT in education. In March 2016, he received a CHAPO award from AQUOPS for his overall involvement.

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