When I think about it now, I realize that most of my development has happened because I had a non-judgmental understander. I did not know about cooperative development when I started teaching, infact I had not heard the term ‘continuing professional development’ either. When I started teaching in a primary school, I would have to share my ideas for lesson plans for the IT classes as well as using IT to enhance reading skills of the learners. I would come up with my plans and talk the Assistant – Principal of the school through them. Within a couple of days, I forgot to feel conscious that I was a rookie teacher talking to the Principal and began thinking of him as a friend. All he did was ask a question or two to clarify his understanding of what I was planning to do and I realized that as I tried to articulate my ideas they became clearer. About six months later, he once said, ‘ You don’t have to come and tell me what you are planning to do in the class everyday. If you have planned it I am sure it will work well.’ That is when I realized that it actually helped to talk to him about it and the learning and teaching both benefited from that.
As an academic coordinator I don’t think I was as non-judgmental but I did understand the value of listening to the persons ideas and making them feel comfortable enough to form or think through or even change their train of thoughts as they articulated their decisions or any issues they had.
I have very little experience of cooperative development as such, just a couple of sessions in the classes at the University of Warwick and I did benefit immensely from one session where my colleague was an understander. As I was talking to her about one of the issues I face at work, the assignment I was planning to write got organised.
The greatest challenge I see is being non-judgmental in word or deed when being an understander.