Teacher Professional Development
What is Teacher Professional Development (TPD)? How do Head Teachers contribute to the TPD? How do the practices of EIA ensure the TPD?
TPD: Professional development is a continuous process. To be a successful teacher, a teacher must put emphasis on professional development. For a teacher, professional development is very important.
Professional development refers to the development of a person in his or her professional role. Professional workshops and other formally related meetings are a part of the professional development experience. Professional development is defined as a growth that occurs through the professional cycle of a teacher.
Teacher professional development involves its relationship to student achievement. Researchers differ on the degree of this relationship. Variables are the school, teacher, student level related to the level of learning within the classroom , parent and community involvement, instructional strategies, classroom management, curriculum design, student background knowledge and student motivation .
Based upon a review of several studies, professional development activities experienced by teachers have a similar impact on student achievement to those of the aforementioned variables.
Opportunities for active learning, content knowledge and the overall coherence of staff development are the top three characteristics of professional development. There is a set of nine standards for professional development. They include content knowledge and quality teaching, research-basis, collaboration, diverse learning needs, student learning environments, family involvement, evaluation, data-driven design and teacher learning.
Training is defined as an activity leading to skilled behavior. Fire fighters, police officers and soldiers are trained. Training is associated with providing service to the community. Which is certainly what teachers do. Training is about developing skill and teaching is clearly a skill.
A teacher’s job is stressful. It is hard for a teacher to manage a classroom of (sometimes unruly, always attention-demanding) students. A teacher must apply learning under stressful conditions.
Professional development is more respectful and clearly conveys that teachers are knowledge-workers. Training is also an appropriate term that recognizes the skilled service that teachers provide and the hard, stressful job that they have in responding to many students need.
Teachers need to be both trained and developed. Development in terms of implementing curriculum or developing differentiated lessons. Then trained in managing classrooms.
Training suggests one-way communication. It suggests that there is a trainer and a trainee. Professional development has many forms. One of the most effective ones is a more bi-directional conversation and exploration. For example, teacher study group can be a form of professional development. Also, effective workshops and coaching sessions are not just about presenting information, but about asking teachers to brainstorm about ideas and figure out the strategies that best work for their students . Professional development is a part of most professional settings. Often teachers perceive professional development as something they have to complete according to contracts, but professional development is something that all teacher should want to participate in. We as educators encourage our students to continually learn and become lifelong learners. So teacher must be a lifelong learner. Taking online course, participating in trainings and watching colleagues teaching, peer discussion, taking part in workshop and seminar are just a few to mention to be developed professionally. As professional development is a continuous process so we should believe in lifelong learning.
Head Teachers Contribution to the TPD: To run a school effectively and smoothly head teacher plays a vital role. And it has proved again and again in different international studies. In the pilot project of EIA it was found that EIA activities became effective and fruitful in those schools where head teachers were positive about EIA approach.
Keeping it in mind EIA has designed some techniques to materialize EIA approach with the help of head teacher. EIA selects one head teacher facilitator from the head teachers of one Upazilla.
A head teacher has two important responsibilities besides leading the activities of EIA. The first one is continuing the activities of EIA as the head of school. And the second one is administering the CM of his or her Upazilla.
At the beginning of the project when head teachers were not involved with EIA there was not ample opportunity to practice English inside school. There were no scope to use English in the assembly, annual cultural function or annual sports ceremony. It was seen that the head teacher was rebuking the students because they were speaking in a loud voice at the time of conversation practice.
I would like to mention a story from “Head Teacher Facilitator Guide” to justify the role of head teacher for professional development of teachers. One day Mr. Tom from Open University, UK came to observe a class of HT. She (HT) was nervous. But the smiling face of Mr. Tom put her at ease .When the students were working in pairs Mr. Tom was helping them . After the class he praised the students and thanked the HT . So when Lubna came to head teacher’s room for feedback about her class, she (HT) smiled at Lubna. Because now she knows how to give feedback. She observed the class. They discussed about the good things of the class.
They decided to practice to give instructions in English inside English classroom. They also decided to practice to become confident to use Audio inside class.
After school the HT took some note in her diary. She knows that it is impossible to run a school sitting in the office. She jotted down some points.
1. Students talk much in English class than any other class and it is expected.
2. Showing positive attitude and praising.
3. Showing interest to the work of students.
4. Asking questions in English.
5. Praising in front of everyone in the class.
6. Observing students advancement in speaking, listening and understanding.
7. Praising teacher and students.
8. To be present in the class to praise teacher and students.
9. To discuss with EIA teachers about their success and challenges.
The main job of a head teacher is to monitor teaching learning process in his/her school. The purpose of monitoring is to increase efficiency and improve effectiveness of the system in place. Since teachers and head teacher are input variables in a school, the head, as the instructional leader must support and facilitate any initiative conceived by teachers. Teachers are the school’s most precious resource. To solve their problems relating teaching and learning they seek solution from the HT. The HT with his/her experience and expertise help the teachers to overcome their challenges.
HT provides support that teacher’s need and motivate them to work and exploit their potential.
There is a proverb, “As is the head teacher so is the school”. A head teacher could be a guide, trainer, facilitator and mentor for the teachers. A head teacher can do a lot for teacher’s professional development.
In fine it can be said that the role of HT is very important for TPD.
How do the practices of EIA ensuring the TPD? : English In Action is working in Bangladesh to develop English language skill of teachers and students of primary and secondary level. EIA is using EFT as main material with many other supplementary materials.
Print and Electronic Materials: EIA uses print and electronic materials to make the lesson interesting and effective. Print materials are different types of guide books for the teachers, poster and flashcard to use inside classroom. EIA teachers use mobile phone with a SD card inside it. Teachers connect a speaker with it to conduct a class based on EFT. Teachers also can observe classes of other teachers through this mobile phone. By observing the classes of other teachers they can develop their teaching strategy. That’s why this mobile phone is called trainer in the pocket.
CPD: EIA works to develop professional skill of primary and secondary level English teachers. The main characteristic of EIA approach is giving continuous training support to the teachers for their professional development.
Link with EFT: All the activities and materials of EIA is related to EFT. By using these materials with different activities students develop their four skill in a happy environment and communicative way.
Cluster Meeting: 20 to 24 EIA teachers of a Upazilla assemble in a cluster meeting after every six or eight week. Two Teacher Facilitator preside over this meeting. TFs are the English teacher of same Upazilla . They are given training to conduct CM. CM helps teachers to overcome their challenges.
Peer Support: EIA includes two teachers from each school for mutual cooperation. They prepare lesson plan, observe each others class, exchange experience of teaching English. They also get help from other EIA teachers and TF.
Self Reflection: EIA follows self-analysis and self-evaluation process for teachers continuous professional development. After class teacher think about his class, the area where he did well and the area he needs to develop.
Head Teacher: Head Teacher plays a vital role in materializing the EIA approach in his or her own school . To implement EIA approach, headteacher do a lot by Observing classrooms, helping teachers, supervision of mobile-speaker-materials etc.
Quality Assurance: To ensure quality education, QA is a regular activity. Through this process Education officers of Upazilla level visit classroom regularly, collect data, give feedback to the teachers and inform EIA about overall quality development.
School-Based Teacher Development Approach: Continuous professional development of EIA is an effective comprehensive strategy of Face to Face Support and Open & Distance Learning. It is prepared mainly for the teachers to practice new activity inside classroom. Here teachers get acquainted with new activities in their Initial Teachers Workshop which they practice in the classroom. They become equipped with audio-video material and other print materials. From video materials, teachers get instruction and help how they will conduct class by using EIA material, how they will exchange their experience and views in Cluster Meeting.
In fine it can be said that the practices of EIA is great for the English teachers of primary and secondary level. The practices of EIA is ensuring and contributing to the teachers professional development. And the ultimate result is development of English language skill of both teachers and students.