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PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT INFORMATION EVENING FOR FIRST YEAR TEACHERS WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A PROFESSIONAL AND EFFECTIVE TEACHER
Thank you all for coming tonight, I am Professor Gilmour from Curtin University and it is a privilege to be your guest speaker for this evening. It is great to be here and we are fortunate to have a fantastic turnout from teachers all around the city and I hope this evening provides you with some extra knowledge as well as some handy tips and pointers to take away with you and apply in your classrooms.
WHAT IS PROFESSIONALISM? Professionalism:the standing, practice, or methods of a professional, as distinguished from an amateur. – Dictionary Reference (2010) There are many different definitions for the word professionalism. An individual must possess a number of different types of qualities and characteristics to be labeled as a professional. It is important for teachers to be viewed as a 'professional' from all different angels; their colleagues, students and students parents.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A PROFESSIONAL TEACHER: Commitment to his/her students Specialized Knowledge of content and Pedagogical content Competent Classroom Management & quick Decision Making Skills Reflective practices such as self assessment
We will expand on these in more depth throughout the evening.
“A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others.” ~Author Unknown
Think about how you would like your students to perceive you and the impact you will have on your students lives.
1. COMMITMENT TO STUDENTS "A professional doesn't view his or her profession as just a job, but rather sees it as a calling that is all about caring for children" (Kramer 2003, pg 23)
As teachers you must have Genuine Care for students not only in their studies and learning abilities but also relating and supporting them socially and emotionally - students will look up to teachers as role models.
A committed teacher will always aim to Motivate their Students – studies have found that motivated students have positive attitudes and a higher success rate in learning abilities.
A committed teacher will always Voice and Act on concerns they have for students - by taking a little extra time to help a student who doesn't understand equations and/or speaking to a student's parent if concerned about their child’s behavior or skills.
Eliminate any distractions for students - try to make the class an equal learning opportunity for all students. If there is someone misbehaving intervene immediately to avoid further disruptions.
2. SPECIALISED KNOWLEDGE CONTENT AND PEDAGOGICAL CONTENT "Making decisions based on knowledge and using that knowledge as a basis for reflection is the core of professionalism.' (Eggen, P: Kauchak, D, 2010, pg 6) Knowing the content and being organized and prepared for each class is essential to being an effective teacher. Having the necessary knowledge will assist you as a teacher. It will help you meet the demands and challenges of teaching by making beneficial decisions and maximising student learning. To remain a successful and effective teacher, you must have up to date information and knowledge. This can be maintained by attending seminars and researching new theories of learning,. Technology is rapidly advancing, so to are the cognitive development theories.
Pedagogical Knowledge is an attribute that all successful teachers have. It is having the ability to understand how to explain or demonstrate a topic for it to be understood by students. Effective strategies to use are diagrams, pictures, real life models, examples of the real world. Producing concrete examples helps children make sense of and understand the new knowledge. This leads on to the next slide - Piaget's theory.
Jean Piaget is well known for his records of children's thought processes and how they differ from adults. Piaget described that everyone has the need to understand and make sense of their own experiences, and this is what he calls 'equilibrium'. "If an individual has a new experience and can understand it drawing from an existing experience then they are maintaining a cognitive state of equilibrium." (Eggen, P: Kauchak, D, 2010, pg 34) Teachers need to understand Piaget’s theory of Intellectual Development so they have a clear understanding of what the factors are that influence cognitive development and the age and stage of children's minds so they can prepare the lesson adequately. Piaget’s theory helps highlight examples from the sensory motor stage right through to the formal operational stage; birth until adulthood. A table is on the next slide of the different stages an individual will go through throughout their journey of their life.
PIAGET’S TABLE OF CHARACTERISTICS Piaget's table of Characteristics is one of his most famous and talked about theories. I'm sure you have all seen this in your studies, but I would like to recap it quickly tonight.
I've included a table below outlining Piaget's developmental stages of Characteristics. (Eggen, P: Kauchak, D, 2010, pg 37) ·
Rapid increase in language ability with over generalized language
3. DECISION MAKING SKILLS “Every professional decision we make is designed to increase learning and learner development.” (Eggen, P: Kauchak, D, 2010, pg 5) Teachers make hundreds of decisions a day. They can range from small simple decisions such as the topic of focus for a lesson, what examples should be used, the lesson plan, right up to complex decisions such as managing a misbehaving student or class. This is where ‘Knowledge’ is closely related as professional teachers draw on their knowledge and experience to make appropriate and well thought out decisions. Inferior decisions can lead to poor classroom management and control. It can also decrease a student’s self esteem if handled in an incorrect manner and create further problems that can persist throughout the year. Good decisions can lead to increased student learning, successful control of the classroom and respect from students, parents and colleagues.
The circle graph below shows the complexity of the issues involved when making decisions. Uncertainty - Many facts may not be known. What way is the right way to handle a situation? Complexity - You have to consider many interrelated factors. How has the student been raised? What is their religion and beliefs? High-risk consequences - The impact of the decision may be significant. It could affect a student in a negative way. Alternatives – There are numerous choices you can make before reaching a decision. Each option has its own set of uncertainties and consequences. Interpersonal issues - It can be difficult to predict how students will react. Everyone has unique personalities and this may present extra challenges within itself.
4. REFLECTIVE PRACTICES “Like other professionals, teachers cannot become effective by following scripts. Instead they need to create knowledge in the use of practice…. Knowledge does not exist apart from teacher and context” Thomas Sergiovanni
Every good teacher needs to be aware that they can always improve. Reflection is a process of thoughtful consideration of a situation or event that that has taken place with the intention of understanding and learning from it and changing or improving future actions. Dewey (1933) first described reflection in terms of ‘thinking about thinking.’ In this modern day world it is hard for teachers to receive feedback about the effectiveness of their classes and are therefore encouraged to examine the underlying rationale for their choices. The question to be thought about is, ‘has the class been conducted to create enough learning opportunities for the students?’ “The ability to conduct this self assessment can be developed, but it requires willingness to critically examine our actions” (Eggen, P: Kauchak, D, 2010, pg 5). Performances must be monitored with the continual aim for improvement and gained knowledge from previous decisions.
SUMMARY Professional and effective teaching is very complex and can come with experience. Teachers play a major part in student’s lives and the aim is to have a positive and influential effect on the students throughout the entire year! Therefore having the knowledge of how children think and act at different ages along with their cognitive abilities is an essential tool for operating classrooms in an effective and professional manner. Through the learning theories, such as Piaget’s, teaching methods are continually evolving due to the update of modern technology and teachers must continue to adapt and use it to their advantage. Decision making skills and reflective practices continue to challenge teachers, nevertheless, they are there for the benefits of teaching and the rewards of aiding and assisting children in their development and these are the types of individuals who become successful and professional teachers.