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  • 1. Teacher Development Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción Gabriela Quezada Cabezas
  • 2. REACTION PAPER Being a teacher is one of the professions in which a person never stops learning. A teacher is constantly facing new experiences with their pupils, with the technology that they used, and obviously also related to new approaches and methodologies that can improve the process of teaching and learning. In the following paragraphs ideas related to teachers professional development, the characteristics that they should have and their role on classroom investigation will be develop from the point of view of four authors, Taylor (2002); Pettis (2002); Brown (2001) and Hayes (2000) and then an evaluation based on the previous point will be developed. Brown (2001) stated some rules to follow in order to do a better job and also to avoid stress situations, some of the rules includesetting realistic goals and priorities, taking risks and practicingprinciples of stress management. Brown (2001) divided the characteristics of a good Language-Teaching into four categories which are Technical knowledge that means that a teacher needs to have fluent competence in speaking, writing, listening to, and reading English, understands the close connection between language and culture; The pedagogical skills that include the feedback given to the students, the classroom management, the ability of the teacher to creatively adapt textbook material and other audio, visual, and mechanical aids, among others; Interpersonal skills which means the ability of the teacher at the moment of establish a conversation or at the moment of interact with different members of the school, including other teachers, students, parents, etc. Finally there are the personal qualities that a teacher should have such as being organized, sets short-term and long-term goals for continued professional growth, among others. Another relevant aspectis the one related to teacher collaboration; Brown (2001) suggested five forms of it: Peer coaching, team teaching, action research, collaborative curriculum development and revision and teacher support groups. The term of critical pedagogy is another concept used by Brown (2001) and it is basically regarding to the students in the sense that teachers need to give them the opportunity to think and express freely, teachers need to respect their points of view and encourage them to do new things.
  • 3. REACTION PAPER Teachers never stop learning which means that the development of their professional competence is long-term and ongoing as Pettis (2002) pointed out; moreover, Pettis (2002) stated that a professional and competence teacher needs to have principles, knowledge and skills in a very integrated way, due to, if a teacher knows the knowledge and he is principled but he does not have the necessary skills to apply the knowledge the act is limited, and in the same way if a teacher has the skills but does not have the knowledge the teaching act is limited too, while Brown (2001) stated four main groups of characteristics that included technical knowledge, pedagogical skills, interpersonal skills and personal skills and those 4 groups were divided into specific characteristic that some of them were named in the previous paragraph. Another important topic mentioned by Pettis (2002) is regarding to the types of teacher, specifically two types of them, the first one is known as novice teachers that are defined or characterized by the concern to what to teach questions and experienced teachers that want to explore how-to and why questions to a greater degree. One more topic highlighted by Pettis (2002), it is the personal commitment to professional development, due to it is a teacher’s responsibility to take an activity that helped him to be a better teacher, because the students and the profession of being a teacher deserve that, and there are a great number of activities that can help such as conferences, journals to read, classroom research to conduct, among others. Taylor (2002) presented a guide that help teachers to do their own classroom research or investigating the classroom as she mentioned it, while in the previous paragraphs Brown (2001) referred to it as action research. In this guide Taylor (2002) suggested that the classroom research should be done individually or in small groups of teachers because people have different ways of working and learning and it can be complicated to come to an agreement. Another important factor mentioned by Taylor (2002) is that classroom research is more valuable when the teacher is the one who carried out the research. “Many research are carried out by a researcher from outside and therefore do not provide examples of people studying their own or a colleague’s classroom”. “The
  • 4. REACTION PAPER teachers’ research has the advantage of seeming closer to reality” are some of the statements pointed out by Taylor (2002). Finally In order to clarify what means to her classroom research, Taylor (2002) presented and explained the case of Ann, which is an example or guide to follow at the moment of doing classroom research. According to Ur (2002) the term of professional can be classified by contrasting it with other terms such as lay, amateur, technician and academic. Each contrast offers an understanding from a different perspective. The first one to be mentioned is the professional versus lay, in this classification Ur (2002) specified the contrast on the basis that a lay person do not belong to a group of professionals, and it might be difficult for a lay person to understand certain vocabulary used by professionals. The second category is professional versus amateur; in this category Ur (2002) based his arguments on the performance of each of them in the field, Ur (2002) argued that amateurs do thing for fun, because they wanted to do something, because they love doing something, meanwhile a professional do something well prepared in order to do a competent job through learning. The third classification is professional versus technician;in this classification Ur (2002) based the distinction in the skills aspect, due to a technician is focused on the development of the skills without thinking about the knowledge of contents. The last classification is about professionals versus academics, the main difference pointed out by Ur (2002) is based on the characteristics that an academic owns, such as, lectures, writer, and researcher and that professional priorities are real-time actions. The last paper to be mention is the one written by Hayes (2000), that is emphasizes on innovation in English teaching, specifically the “cascade model”. This paper is an exploratory research about the “cascade method” and different ways to remedy the potential deficiencies of the method of teacher development. First of all Hayes (2000) pointed out that “if any innovation is to have a chance of moving from the planner’s desk to the classroom, the process needs to be carefully managed”; afterwards, Hayes (2000) promoted some ways that helped to manage innovation and
  • 5. REACTION PAPER one of them included to study the teachers, education systems and the contexts in which they work in order to inform innovation process. Then Hayes (2000) focused his paper on an specific strategy for introducing innovation; the cascade model, in which training is conducted at several levels by trainers drawn from a level above. Some advantages and disadvantages were exposed, in order to finally give some criteria for cascade training to be successful. Hayes (2000) suggested five points such as; the method of conducting the training must be experiential and reflective rather than transmissive, expertise must be diffused through the system as widely as possible, not concentrated at the top, among others. As an example Hayes (2000) presented the case of the Sri Lanka primary English Language Project (PELP) that used the previous criteria and some principles that promoted the effectiveness of the cascade method. Evaluation Nowadays being a teacher is so much than being in a classroom and telling the students what they need to learn. Being a teacher today implies to teach student different ways to learn something (strategies) and also to do research that can help to improve the teaching-learning process. A teacher needs to develop after graduate in order to improve not only his/her knowledge, but also to improve their abilities as a teacher and in this way help futures teachers generations. After reading chapter 23 from Brown (2001) it can be noticed that the process of development can be frustrating for some teachers; therefore to follow the principles suggested by Brown (2001) might be a very helpful way to avoid it; furthermore, at the moment of analyzing the characteristic stated by Brown (2001) it can be said that they are organized in order to relevance and in a clear way and each of the four categories count with a specific set of characteristics that a teacher need to have or develop in order to be a good teacher, due to it can be difficult to teach knowledge without having the skills, or even worst, having the skills but without dominating the knowledge, so, in
  • 6. REACTION PAPER order to be an integrated teacher it is necessary to try to fulfill the characteristic stated by Brown (2001). Regarding to the teacher collaboration it can be said that it might be necessary for a teacher in order to receive feedback from others that are in the same situation or in a step forward and have some experience related to specific situations. From all of the ways of teaching collaboration, it can be noticed that the most important one is the action research, due to it allow teacher to find out solutions for specific issues, improve their writing ability, and also to improve every aspect regarding to their teaching classroom design. As the last important aspect to mention is the one of critical pedagogy. It is a necessary factor that all teachers should implement in their classes in order to let their students think, it is about giving the chance to the students to solve problems and think about different perspectives of an issue, if teachers starts implementing this during their classes, they would be developing and promoting the critical thinking ability in their students. After reading Pettis (2002) it is easy to agree with her in terms of the long-term process of teacher’s development, due to a teacher never stops learning and develops some necessary characteristics to be the best teacher; moreover, Pettis (2002) as well as Brown (2001) stated some principles to follow and referring to these principles, knowledge and skills, itcan be said that Pettis (2002) is right in what she proposed, due to a teacher needs to be integrated in every level to do a good job, because it is difficult to teach something without knowledge but whit skills and the opposite too. Regarding to the types of teachers mentioned by Pettis (2002) it is absolutely necessary to show the disagreement regarding to this point, due to, from the point of view of a novice teacher it can be declared that the question to answer is not what to teach, but how to do it; moreover, it is difficult to find interesting and motivating ways to teach, meanwhile the what to teach most of the time is given by some programs or institutions. In the case of the experienced teachers, it might me difficult that they wanted to explore, due to their experience tell them what to do and which is the best way to teach specific contents, it is believed that the first years of a teachers are the best ones to explore and find new techniques and methods to teach. Finally in
  • 7. REACTION PAPER relation to the personal commitment for professional development it is necessary to say that Pettis (2002) is totally right, due to if someone wants to be a teacher needs to know that being a teacher involves a lot of aspects, and one of them is the personal commitment to continue investigating, developing some skills, learning how to use new technologies, continue reading, attending some conferences, and all of that in order to give the best of him at the moment of teaching, because that is the thing that the students deserve, the best of their teachers. The paper presented by Taylor (2002) was a very clear guide about what is investigating a classroom. According to the suggestion made by Taylor (2002) about investigating a classroom individually or in small groups, Taylor (2002) expressed the idea of doing a better research individually or in a small group of colleagues, and it is necessary to show the agreement with the statement, because teacher are all different, all of them have different interesting areas of study and it might be difficult to find someone that could have the same area of interest that you have; nevertheless if you find someone that can help you, you can take it as an advantage, because, to be honest in the process of investigating a classroom you have a lot of things to do and in a few time, therefore, a good idea could be to divide some tasks among the groupin order to minimize the time of investigation, for example, one teacher could be in charge of writing the firsts parts of the investigation, another teacher could write the methods and the procedure, a third one could write the results and analysis, and finally another teacher could be in charge of revising the entire paper or investigation in order to correct some grammar and spelling mistakes, and at the end of the investigation all of the teachers should be beneficiated. Another important point to highlight in this area is that, as in-service teachers we need to interact with the rest of the colleagues in order to gain experience, to be more confident and to create a safe-environment for all of the members of the school, and working with others can help more than anything to achieve these goals.
  • 8. REACTION PAPER Regarding to the person that should carry out a classroom investigation it is indispensable to demonstrate the disagreement with Taylor (2002) because, she stated that only teachers should carry out classroom investigation and in this way it would be more valuable, because the teachers are the ones who see the closer reality, and they might also know some external factors that can produce a variation in the results. Butwe need to keep in mind that important investigations carried out by psychologists and scientists are the ones that have contributed to the educational area, giving some cues regarding to how to teach and what to teach under specific conditions. Ur (2002) stated a number of classifications among teachers, which differentiate them according to their main characteristics such as the degree of expertise, skills, knowledge, and the performance in the field, among others. But to be honest, as an undergraduate teacher student, I think that teacher as professionals should have a little bit of every category mentioned before, because a professional teacher needs to love what she/he does as the amateur does in order to do a better job and also to do some things for fun as a method of avoiding stress, professionals teachers also need to improve their skills as time goes on as the technicians do, and as conclusions of the previous papers (Brown, 2011; Taylor, 2002) a professional teacher must to do research in some point of his/her professional life in order to improve their curriculum, knowledge and expertise. On the other hand, each of the categories without taking into account professionals should improve their knowledge, skills, expertise, and commitment regarding to the profession in order to do a better job, because the profession of being a teacher and the students that they are going to teach deserve that. Moreover, if in Chile the minister of education and the government want to improve the results of the SIMCE test in the English subject, and the learning of the English language as communicative, they need to pay attention in the quality of the teacher that they are
  • 9. REACTION PAPER going to recruit, because it need to have a good level of English, knowledge related to methodology, the skills, and the commitment related to teacher development. Finally Ur (2002) mentioned that English teaching has not yet reached the level of professionalism, that there are still too many amateurs around, and in my opinion, Ithink that the categories are quite extreme, because if we think about professionalism not also means to be in an office working hard all day, but also it means to have fun in the field of the study and to be commitment with the teaching process, a good English teacher for me, is not the one that is full of knowledge and ideas and the one who do not like teaching, but a good teacher is the one that love what she/he does, the one that every day tries to improve his/her development, the one that studies every day in order to be a better teacher, and the most important aspect, that he/she loves her profession and tries to do always the best things in order to help his/her students in the process of learning. Finally it is the Hayes (2000) evaluation about his exploratory research about cascade training. Based on what Haley (2000) mentioned, the idea of the cascade innovation is a very good and cheaper idea, but at the moment of implementing it, is when the issues and disadvantages start to come up. For implementing the cascade methods, I think that the commitment of the teachers and the minister of education as a backup institution are fundamental, because the cascade method need a lot of patience and hard working. Moreover it needs to diffuse the expertise through the system as widely as possible in order to cover all of the possibilities and also to give the chance to everyone. As a personal opinion, I believe that the cascade method is not as successful as it should be, because it is always better to hear, see and learn the things from the ones that really know and domain the contents, rather than to learn from the ones that are not as prepared as they should be; things, words, processes, knowledge, etc. Always change between one person to another, that is why it is better to learn from the first person, that is most prepared than the rest.
  • 10. REACTION PAPER Even though Hayes (2000) suggested some criteria that can improve in a notable way the implementation of this model, I think that Chile is not prepared for such a method, because I think that we are a very individualist country, with a negative vision towards innovations and most specially when the innovation requires a lot of work from the part of the participants. Moreover, as the English SIMCE demonstrates there are big gaps in terms of education to fill. Teachers need to pay attention to the methods and strategies they are using with their students, what they need to change and to have open minds in order to receive and acquire new information, knowledge, and maybe in the future try to implement the cascade method or another one that can be applied in our society.
  • 11. REACTION PAPER References Brown, H. D. (2001). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy (2nd ed.). Pearson Education. Hayes, D. (2000). Cascade training and teachers' professional development.ELT journal, 54(2), 135-145. Pettis, J. (2002). Developing our professional competence: Some reflections.Methodology in language teaching: An anthology of current practice, 393-396. Richards, J. C., &Renandya, W. A. (Eds.). (2002). Methodology in language teaching: An anthology of current practice. Cambridge University Press. Taylor, E. (2002). Research in your own Classroom.Methodology in language teaching, 397-403.