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Teachers' Professional Development

Teachers' Professional Development

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Published by: envirocomp on Mar 21, 2010
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This paper starts with discussions about factors that initiate teacher learning inmodern times, which offer some background information about the changes schoolsand teachers have to deal with. Then, an exploration into teacher isolation andcollaboration helps understand the nature of teaching profession. Furthermore, the paper examines issues relevant to teacher professional development, which includechanges in the concept of professionalism, the locus of control of professionalism,quality professional development and professional development for Englishteachers.
The Factors Initiating Teacher Learning in Modern Times
Several major factors have a direct influence on teacher learning and professional development. One of the factors is associated with social andtechnological development. Another comes from the demand of the educationalreform. The third one derives directly from the shift from a teaching to learning paradigm and the fourth one arises from the changing role of teachers. Theindividual teacher is in the center, surrounded and influenced by different layers of factors. Figure 2 shows the relationship of the factors with individual teachers.
Figure 1 Factors Initiating Teacher Learning
 
First of all, multiple and complex social changes have placed multipledemands on teachers (Dadds, 2001). Modern teachers are required to cope withthese changes and to foster practices which are responsive to educational needs of allchildren. As to technological development, the way in which InformationCommunication Technology (ICT) transforms teaching and learning has proved to be an influential aspect for teacher learners. It highlights the importance andnecessity of teachers acquainting themselves with innovative teaching approaches
Social changes andtechnological development
SocietySchoolsTeaching paradigm
 
The changing roleof teachersEducational reformA shift of teaching andlearning paradigms
Individual teachers
 
that are associated with emerging technologies.Secondly, school systems have been considered predictable, systematic, and bureaucratic for centuries. However, along with social changes and technologicaldevelopment came a revolutionary assertion of educational reforms taking placeglobally three decades ago. Diversity, mobility, and technology have emerged as prime forces underlying our lives, which in turn significantly influence schoolsystems. As a result, there is a tremendous need for reforms in school systems tochange teaching and learning. These initiatives are overwhelming virtually to all theinvolved parties: administrators, students, teachers, parents, and even thecommunity.Thirdly, also influenced by the factors mentioned above, traditional, teacher-centered, and text-based teaching is gradually shifting to learner-centered, activity- based and outcome-based learning. This is in line with Jaffee (2003) when he says,“…learning requires not just the passive reception of content but also an active process of engagement, application, syntheses and authentic understanding” (p. 8).The changing paradigm poses a great challenge for teachers, most of whom learnedto teach by using the lecture method. However, many findings indicate that thelecture method is clearly less effective than other methods in changing thoughts andattitudes (Bligh, 1972; Eison & Bonwell, 1988; Kellogg Commission on the Futureof State and Land Grant University, 1997, 1999; Terenzini & Pascarella, 1994). Howto deal with the changing paradigm is an emerging lesson teachers need to learn.Lastly, closely related to the shift in teaching paradigm is the changing role of teachers. The new paradigm demands that teachers see themselves as co-learnerswith their students. Teachers, like their students, are required to advance their knowledge and enrich their vision so as to become competent and confident in theever-changing time. A comparison of teacher-centered and learner-centered paradigms is offered by Huba and Freed (2000):
Table 1 Comparison of Teacher-centered and Learner-centered ParadigmsTeacher-centered ParadigmLearner-centered Paradigm
Knowledge is transmitted from professor tostudents.Students construct knowledge through gatheringand synthesizing information and integrating itwith the general skills of inquiry, communication,critical thinking, problem solving, and so on.Students passively receive information.Students are actively involved.Emphasis is on acquisition of knowledge outsidethe context in which it will be used.Emphasis is on using and communicatingknowledge effectively to address enduring andemerging issues and problems in real-life
 
contexts.Professor’s role is to be primary information giver and primary evaluator.Teacher’s role is to coach and facilitate. Teacher and students evaluate learning together.Teaching and assessing are separate.Teaching and assessing are intertwined.Assessment is used to monitor learning.Assessment is used to promote and diagnoselearning.Emphasis is on right answers.Emphasis is on generating better questions andlearning from errors.Desired learning is assessed indirectly through theuse of objectively scored tests.Desired learning is assessed directly through papers, projects, performances, portfolios, and thelike.Focus is on a single discipline.Approach is compatible with interdisciplinaryinvestigation.Culture is competitive and individualistic.Cultural is cooperative, collaborative, andsupportive.Only students are viewed as learners.Teacher and students learn together.
Note.
From Learner-center assessment on college campuses
(p. 5), by M. E.Huba & J. E. Freed, 2000, Needham Heights: Allyn & Bacon.
The factors above contribute to the needs for teachers to change. And the facts prove that educational reforms cannot attain its goals without the fundamentalchanges from teachers. That is why scholars such as Fullan and Stiegelbauer (1991)and Fullan (2001) have urged teachers to play the roles of change agents within theeducational context. However, why teaches choose to engage in professionaldevelopment programs and why they are willing to be change agents are closelyrelated to such internal forces of teachers as motivation or personal belief and theexternal attributes like social changes or school reforms. While most researches promote either the ideas of the importance of teacher professional growth or thedesign of professional programs, there is a need to explore and analyze those inner needs or motives. This research expects to explore teachers’ internal needs or motives for professional development. To do this, it is necessary to examine whatmakes teaching an isolated job and how to encourage teacher collaboration.
Teacher Isolation vs. Teacher Collaboration
Teacher isolation, a common theme addressed by those who study the collegialrelationships of teacher (Johnson, 1990; Little, 1993), is defined as the extent towhich teachers are restricted from or restrict themselves from interactions with other individuals or groups in the school (Bakkenes, Brabander, & Imants, April, 1999;Johnson, 1990). Generally speaking, this isolation is built into the structure of theworking day, in the scheduling, in the description of roles, duties, and

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