What a year of CPD

Learning with laptopThis is the time of year when we look back at what we have done or accomplished throughout the year. In recent years this has been a bit of nightmare for me because my PhD studies were hanging over my head – still not finished. A couple of years ago I thought I was there when I submitted my thesis but quite substantial changes were wanted and it seemed as if I would never be released from the jaws of my PhD. But not this year! I recently got my letter to say that I have passed my PhD.

It still has to go through the formal channels for conferral which will not be until February next year and then the Awards ceremony sometime after that. So I will get to wear a floppy hat at long last (and of course be a doctor).  Not surprisingly the good news is still sinking in. So what has this got to do with CPD for dance teachers? Quite a lot actually as my thesis is about:- Ethical Issues in the Training and Development of Dance Teachers in the Private Sector. How we develop as dance teachers impacts on those we teach and CPD has a vital role to play in our continuing development throughout our career in the dance teaching profession.

Key CPD in 2012

Looking back at my own professional development this year I realise that in addition to my PhD studies I have also managed to achieve a considerable amount of CPD in the form of courses, workshops and exploring resources, texts and articles. All of it fascinating and all of it relevant for my work with dance teachers. I will give you a short report about some of the key CPD I have achieved this year and how it has enhanced my existing knowledge, skills and understanding as a dance and health educator. I always have some book or article that I am reading but I will try to stick to the main CPD events that I have enjoyed this year.


In February 2012 I went to the UKA conference weekend at Aberdeen (a bit of a hike from one end of the country to the other). I like to keep in touch with what is happening in the dance teaching world in Scotland. A lecture I particularly enjoyed there was Victor Wesley‘s Old Highland Steps. Victor was a huge inspiration to me when I was a young Highland dancing competitor. He went on to have a wonderful career as a professional dancer partnering some of the greats in the ballet world such as Dame Margot Fonteyn and then as a Director of a Dance Academy and Ballet Company in USA before returning to Scotland in recent years. He continues to encourage interest in the old steps in Highland dancing that are no longer danced. These steps hold wonderful historical as well as technical and artistic value and help us to know where steps of today came from. A very useful and enjoyable lecture.

Also in February I attended a half day workshop for Pilates Teachers looking at Osteoporosis and Pilates. I really enjoy these sessions as they are led by Mary Thornton who is the Director of The Clinical Pilates Studio in Eastbourne. I found Mary when I was in desperate need of someone who could work with my long-term neck and shoulder problems caused by whiplash injuries. Her combination of expertise as a physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor has helped to keep me mobile for the past few years. This teacher workshop explored key aspects about osteoporosis and I found that it added considerably to my understanding of this condition in relation to Pilates and exercise.


The next major CPD that I undertook was a two-day course Anatomy in Three Dimensions. A very intensive course that offered a different perspective and approach to learning about anatomy. We built some of the body’s muscles and structures in clay before attaching them to a skeleton model. Creating each individual muscle, tendon and ligament helps you to have a deeper understanding of them and the bony landmarks they attach to. A great way to enhance your anatomical knowledge and relate it to movement, exercise and dance.

Immediately following the anatomy course was the Balanced Body on Tour conference where I had the opportunity to enhance my anatomy understanding further when I attended Karen Clippinger’s session on the shoulder which was fascinating and offered a lot of useful insight for dance teachers as well as Pilates instructors. Fascia in Motion was another great session that explored the growing interest in the role of the fascia that covers and connects the whole of the body. A lot of work is being done to understand more about how working with fascia lines of the body and movement patterns can help to re-educate and rehabilitate. Several months on I am still re-visiting the stuff I explored at this conference and learning more about these fascinating topics and how they contribute to the work I do with dance teachers.

NIDMS logoApril was a busy month and finished on the last day of the month with the Nutrition and Disordered Eating Conference in London and launch of the new Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS). Again lots to take in concerning the latest understanding and approaches to disordered eating in dance – an area where more research is being done to help to prevent the variety of conditions that are recognised as being forms of disordered eating as well as improving treatment.


UKA muralThe beginning of June took me to the annual conference of the UKA and an abundance of lectures covering all dance genres over three days. It is always good to have the opportunity to catch up with other teachers at this annual event and discuss CPD issues in person. Teachers have so much more than teaching technique to consider today so as well as technical lectures these conferences offer discussion opportunities to address other aspects for dance teachers in the 21st century.


In September I attended a workshop for teachers exploring Back Care. We looked at spinal function and its relation to back pain and the connection between the feet, pelvis and spine. Exploring the relationship between these aspects of the body certainly makes us think more deeply about how we approach teaching and guide dancers.

Developing through work

Of course I haven’t mentioned all the development I have done through my own teaching. I am sure that you must find, as I do that teaching is not all about the teacher telling students  stuff. Teaching for me is a two-way process – my teaching students learn from me but I am also learning from them. This learning collaboration is where exciting moments can happen as new knowledge is grasped and existing skills are shared. This continued development through my work keeps my mind keen and my passion for dance teacher enhancement very much alive.

The CPD cycle

Looking back this year has been a very exciting one from a CPD perspective. My PhD achievement is the big one of course. But all of the workshops, courses and reading that I have done, all contribute to my CPD. My work with teachers in Safe Dance Practice has provided lots of CPD opportunities for me as well as them. So the reading goes on and along the way I expect to come across more gems of information that help me to help others in their teaching practice. I am already booking CPD workshops and courses for myself for next year. I am currently planning the CPD workshops and course that I will be offering to teachers next year. 2012 has been a good CPD year for me and I am already looking forward to what 2013 will bring.

I hope that you have enjoyed some great CPD experiences in 2012. Here’s to lots of positive CPD experiences in 2013.