Ms. Suniti Pahwa
Ramgarhia College of Education, Phagwara
Teacher Development has emerged over the last decade as an identifiable area of study and much has been written on the subject. The professional development updates the knowledge and skills of learning professionals. This can be available through external expertise in the form of courses, workshops or formal qualification programs, through collaboration between schools or teachers across the schools or within the schools in which the teachers get opportunity to develop themselves with changes in particular to those associated to staff development activities. Professional development programs should include all staff to contribute to the implementation of the intended changes.
Key Words: Professional development, Teaching practice, Research work on curriculum, Teaching Methods, Enhancement programs
Professional development refers to the development of a person in his or her professional role. According to Glattenhorn (1987), “by gaining increased experience in one’s teaching role professionals systematically gain increased experience in their professional growth through examination of their teaching ability”.
Professional development encompasses all types of facilitated learning opportunities, ranging from college degrees to formal coursework and conferences opportunities situated in practice. It has been described as intensive and collaborative, ideally incorporating an evaluative stage. There are a variety of approaches to professional development, including consultation, coaching, lesson study, mentoring, reflective supervision and technical assistance.
Opportunities for active learning and content specific strategies for staff development refer to a focus on teacher application of learned material. Overall coherence refers to the staff development program perceived as an integrated whole and development activities building upon each other in a consecutive fashion.
For a teacher, to learn a new behavior and effectively transfer it to the classroom, several steps are involved:
- Understand the theory and rationale for the new content and instruction.
- Observe a model in action.
- Practice the new behavior in a safe context.
- Try out the behavior with peer support in the classroom.
Challenges to Professional Development of Teachers
- Refresher courses, Orientation programs Seminars, Conferences, Workshop, Symposium are not encouraged for the professional growth of teacher educators.
- The reference books, other reading material are not available regional languages for students and teachers which can make the teaching learning process more effective.
- Proper admission procedure for teacher education is not followed.
- No research work is done on redesigning of Curriculum. Based on needs of pupil teachers.
- Opening of bulk of self-finance colleges have deteriorated the quality of Teacher education institutions.
- Teacher Education Institutes are not connected with real life situations of classrooms to acquaint the teacher educators and pupil teachers with different problems of classroom situations.
- The time period for teaching practice is short for pupil teacher to become more confident
and get familiar with classroom situations.
- The methods of teaching in the teacher education are dull, traditional and not innovative.
- There is a paucity of innovative thinking and resistance to adopt and implement the most efficient and effective solutions to managerial, supervisory, and operational demands.
- Training, however, ordinarily is not linked to effective follow-up to ensure that the learning and inspiration of the training experience is carried into action in day-to-day operations.
How to Upgrade the Level of Professional Development?
Schools should offer more support and time for training, but teachers also need to take responsibility for their own growth. Teachers, young and old, new and established should be given the time to develop; to share and to train in order to meet the needs of an evolving audience. This should not be left to those joining the profession, or those ‘on a course’ or on some sort of ‘leadership pathway’. Training and good quality development should be available to all. The standard model of teachers’ professional development is based on the idea that teachers lack important knowledge.
The Programs that would make long-term benefits to profession are:
The Teacher Effectiveness Program: to develop a model of effective teaching and learning drawn from research and best practice this program has suddenly reached the masses.
Teacher`s Meeting: this is what we call the underground revolution of teacher training. Curated and delivered by classroom teachers, these ‘gatherings’ collate and broadcast great ideas that work in the classroom, farther afield than any other national institute.
Teaching schools in which schools work together within a teaching school alliance – a group of schools and other partners that are supported by the leadership of a teaching school hub.
Key Points for Condition of Change and Growth
A variety of professional development activities will meet individual needs better than a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Professional development programs should consider the fact that teachers’ needs vary. Options could include study groups, collaborative teams, individual projects, peer observations, demonstrations, apprenticeships, classroom research projects, observations and feedback from those who are more expert, and pilot programs. These activities should be grounded in clear statements about the goals, content, and practices of evidence-based reading instruction.
- Self-evaluation is part of an individual professional development plan
The starting point for teachers’ self-evaluation should be objective assessment of students for the purpose of improving student performance. If teachers identify an important aspect of student learning that is not being well taught, they can work together to design their own professional development activity.
- After initial concentrated work, follow-up consultation and classes are offered
Learning to teach involves learning a large repertoire of skills and exercising judgment about when to use what, with whom, and why. New teaching skills must be practiced and refined with support and coaching. Coaching- which may be provided by peers, content experts, or supervisors is an important aspect of professional development
- Sufficient time is allowed before the outcomes of a professional development program are determined
Again, a long-range vision for school change and instructional improvement may include three to five years of work toward a common goal, although measurable progress should be expected every year. Student achievement tests and portfolios, classroom observations, curriculum-based measures, individual case studies, and teacher surveys will all have a role in determining if the professional development program is effective.
Different Ways for Enhancing Professional Development
Requirement of Experts: There is a lot to be learnt through taking advantage of experienced and expert practitioners in the field of Teaching, by attending sessions they may give at conferences or, if teachers are lucky, talks that are available in their vicinity.
Face to Face workshops: Often teachers get a lot more out of smaller, more intimate workshops where there is the opportunity to discuss and debate ideas and opinions and take away ideas for classroom activities and to reflect on.
Online communities: These may include an interactive virtual conferences or the blogs on the Teaching websites, or other forums and discussion boards set up to encourage participation by teachers from all over the world.
Talking informally: Joining other teachers in the staff room discussing their next lesson or the materials they are using is one of the easiest and most effective ways of developing, especially if you borrow the ideas and try them out in your own classes.
Individual reading: Including internet materials and journals as well as actual books, this can be expensive and difficult to obtain in some parts of the world. We can read anywhere in any short piece of snatched free time.
Reading groups: While reading is done individually, what is learnt can be formalized in discussion in a reading group. Set a text to read and come together with colleagues a few weeks later to discuss its content. So much can be learnt through sharing of impressions and discussing issues the reading material raises.
Giving sessions: Sessions range from a small in-school meeting where teaching ideas are shared right through to a session at a large international conference. All conference speakers started small and all teachers have something to say. This is a particularly effective way to develop due to the planning and research which takes place before the session as well as the discussion and feedback which it provokes.
Doing a formal course: A formal Course is often the first thing people think of when they think about professional development. But it is often the most prohibitive due to time and expense, and often courses do not provide exactly what is needed. If you are lucky enough to be able to follow a course, however, make the most of the time you have laid aside for thinking and learning, because doing a course is a great way to develop.
Membership of professional bodies: Membership can provide opportunities and facilitation of many of the areas above, and although subscriptions can appear expensive, there is often so much offered by a professional body that it justifies the expense. Prepare to be active though, as so often you will get more out of it the more you put in yourself.
In a nutshell, attempts need be made for motivating teachers to become innovative and creative. It has been recognized that teacher education program should be structured and modified in a way that enables them to respond dynamically to the new problems and challenges in the field of education, then only teacher can help in national development.
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