Lucubrate Magazine, Issue 32, July 13th, 2018

Teachers are of vital importance for continued educational progress, investing in teachers skills is an investment in the future. Professional development can be an excellent vehicle for teaching improvement and be learning success if it is prepared and given by experts and on a regular basis to meet the needs of teachers and the demands of in schools or educational institutions.

Education has always been a powerful agency in any society, and it is considered as an indispensable instrument for bringing positive change in the social, political, economic and cultural life of people. Many important agents shape the whole process, and the teacher is one of them.

The teachers play a central role in education

Teachers’ professional development is an indispensable part of wide-ranging educational development. Teachers are at the center of educational development because they must make every effort to ensure that their students meet the high standards as expected in the society. Teachers are made rather than they are born. History shows that several teachers are developed from initial phase to better and then excellent teachers. Teachers are expected to use teaching methods and strategies, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) friendly pedagogical approaches, etc. which are suitable for twenty-first-century education.

The teacher is claimed to play a central role in education. They are confronted with a mixture of expectations. On the one hand, they are expected to meet the minimum standards for teachers. Concerns about the quality of teachers have to lead to more strict and explicit definitions of the minimum requirements that teacher have to meet and the knowledge base they must be able to use. On the other hand, teachers are confronted with high expectations of society concerning their professionalism.

Preparing teachers for the teaching

Preparing teachers for the teaching profession is conceived as being a higher priority in any country since this profession is considered as being challenging and critical, and may lead to nations’ rising and progress in the different domains. As a large agency, education has great importance in building stable and developed societies, and the teacher is one of the primary agents for achieving that.[1]

For such reasons, it is always an urgent educational need that teachers should receive adequate educational and professional training to possess sufficient knowledge and teaching skills and to be able to dedicate themselves to the teaching profession. Most important also is the fact that, if provided to teachers, programs of training and professional development have to be introduced, mentored and evaluated, on a regular basis, by experts in the field.

Photo: Rawpixel

 

Professional Development

Learning is a changing process since knowledge is not something static. For this reason, teaching should be boosted and should move beyond traditional and theory-based foundations; it should also be research-based and should have data-driven-evidence. Since good teachers are considered as the backbone of proper education and learning is perceived as being an ongoing process, efforts to develop and improve teachers’ teaching skills and knowledge are highly needed and appreciated in the field of education. In many schools and universities, a variety of teachers’ training and professional development programs are available to help teachers learn and improve themselves year after year.[1]

Besides that, it is a common belief that learning is a continuous process that contributes in improving teachers’ teaching skills and acquiring new knowledge in subject areas, and this will, in turn, help improve students’ learning.

Professional Development will have Positive Impacts

Given the central importance that education has in any society, teachers are expected not only to be competent but also to be professional in their related fields and subject matters. For this reason, they have to possess a great deal of knowledge and skills about both teaching and assessment practices to meet the high demands and standards of quality education. Good quality teacher training and professional development programs alongside motivating environments will have positive impacts on the teaching/learning improvement. In-depth and up-to-date knowledge, teaching and assessment skills, clear and well-set educational goals, love and dedication, commitment and positive attitudes toward the teaching profession are, among other things, central factors that all educational and teachers’ training institutions have to consider and give due importance.

Educational institutions have to make significant efforts to equip prospective teachers at all levels with the necessary knowledge and skills to promote a positive professional attitude in them.

Photo: Pixabay

 

The Professionalism of Teachers is Focusing on Expectations

The study of professions and professionalism has a long-standing tradition in sociological research from the beginning of the 20th century. Sociologists have tried to identify the specific values that are connected to professions and at the same time attempted to determine criteria to separate professions from other types of occupations. As in most debates on professions and on professionalism the characteristics of occupations are connected to positive and prestigious elements, many rules have tried to identify their professionalism, thus trying to become part of the elite. [2]

A way of looking at the professionalism of teachers is by focusing on expectations in the present day competitive society. Current day society can be characterized by a strong emphasis on economic and technological changes. Economic changes have led to a stronger globalized, market-oriented and competitive perspective with stronger central regulations. This changing market-oriented context for society and schools has resulted in changes in the expectations not only towards school leaders but also towards teachers, emphasizing accountability, rationality, competitiveness, and control. [2]

Photo: Christina Morillo

 

All over the world expectations towards teachers and their professionalism are high. Therefore it is essential to reflect on the essentials elements that constitute teachers’ professionalism and the way in which teacher education can contribute to the development of this professionalism. Under we have set up a list of elements that contribute to the professionalism of teachers [2]:

Knowledge

  • Thorough knowledge of the subject
  • Thorough knowledge of the teaching and learning process (including being up to date with relevant outcomes of educational research)
  • Thorough knowledge of society
  • Knowledge of policy and organization in education

Skills

  • Able to communicate and discuss educational issues with a wider audience
  • Able to account the quality of work to the outside world
  • Able to research in the practice of schools
  • Able to contribute to the collaborative learning of professional communities
  • Able to translate outcomes of educational research to innovations in the classroom/school

Attitudes

  • Dedicated to the learning of pupils
  • Committed to the profession and the collective group of professionals
  • Willing to contribute to the collective knowledge of the profession
  • Committed to the ethical code of the profession and the integrity of his/her work
  • Willing to account the quality of work to the outside world
  • Focused on continuous professional development
  • Focus on improvement and innovation of teaching

 

Photo: rawpixel.com 

 

An Example from England

Teaching is an art, and teaching practice is the key element of teachers training. The teachers can develop this art of teaching through different professional development programmes. That kind of program is likely to involve many activities designed to sustain and embed practice, including, but not limited to: individual and collaborative teacher activity; well-designed formative assessment and evaluation; whole-school leadership; and expert input. [3]

Teachers need considerable knowledge and skill, which need to be developed as their careers progress. An example is the Teachers’ Standards in England from 2016. This kind of Teachers’ Standards set out some expectations about professional development. The standards are the following [4]:

  1. Professional development should have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes.
  2. Robust evidence and expertise should underpin professional development.
  3. Professional development should include collaboration and expert challenge.
  4. Professional development programmes should be sustained over time.
  5. School leadership must prioritize professional development.

 

Photo: Pixabay

Teachers at all Levels Need to be Trained

Programs of teachers’ training and professional development are of central importance in any educational institution, be it in the primary, middle school, high school or even the university level. Teachers at all levels need to be trained in their related fields and subject matter on a regular basis if they are to change their teaching beliefs, attitudes and daily life practices in classrooms. Such programs will help teachers sharpen their teaching skills and deepen and improve their knowledge of the subject matter they teach, and hence improve students’ learning and schools education. For positive and beneficial change to take place, there should be an alignment between the curriculum and teachers’ actual experiences in teaching. Another important point is related to the time that teachers spend on professional development and its efficiency. Teachers will benefit better from professional development that has as its main focus activities which focus on high-quality-subject-matter content.[1]

Professional development can be a great vehicle for teaching improvement and be learning success if it is prepared and given by experts and on a regular basis to meet the needs of teachers and the demands of in schools or educational institutions. There is an urgent need for teachers to be involved in programs for teachers’ training and professional development. Teachers will always be learners and learning is an ongoing process, and knowledge has no reachable limits. Besides that, teachers’ learning is no longer seen as being straightforward whereby teachers meet and be presented with information about effective teaching strategies.

 

 


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References

[1] Nassira Boudersa: The Importance of Teachers’ Training Programs and Professional Development in the Algerian Educational Context: Toward Informed and Effective Teaching Practices (Research Gate Oct, 2016)

[2] Marco Snoek: Theories on and concepts of professionalism of teachers and their consequences for the curriculum in teacher education (Hogeschool van Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2010)

[3] Teacher Development Trust 2016

[4] Standard for teachers’ professional development. Implementation guidance for school leaders, teachers, and organisations that offer professional development for teachers (Department of Education UK 2016)

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