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Reaction Paper

  1. 1. 1 Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción Reaction Paper Name: Dannae Del Campo Teacher: Roxanna Correa
  2. 2. 2 Summary Ur (2002) in her text called “the English teacher as a professional” explains the contrast between professionalism and other concepts, such as, lay, amateur, technician and academic. The first contrast which is explored is professional versus lay. According to the author the professional group possesses certain skills, knowledge and conventions that the lay group does not have. The second one is professional versus amateur, Ur (2002) argues that the distinction between these two is based on consistent differences in performance in the field, involving the quality of preparatory and ongoing learning, standards and commitment. The third contrast is professional versus technician, the author explains that a technician performs acts with skills and becomes more skillful through practice while the professional not only has to acquire skills but also knowledge and thought. The last contrast is professional versus academic, Ur (2002) defines an academic as a researcher, lecturer, and writer usually based in a university while the professional is a bringer-about of real world change which means that the professional prioritizes real time action whereas the academic prioritizes thought. Moreover, Ur (2002) names a list of characteristics that English teachers as professionals should possess, some of the characteristics are, teachers are autonomous, they publish and communicate their innovatory ideas, they are committed to reach certain standards of performance, they are a community and an identifiable group and they learn continually about their subject. Finally, Ur (2002) states that English teaching has not yet reached the level of professionalism which for the author seems desirable. Pettis (2002) in her text called “developing our professional competence: some reflections”, explains that the role of an educator is multifaceted. She also mentions that
  3. 3. 3 the teacher’s goal is to facilitate the development of the students’ communicative competences. Pettis (2002) suggest the definition for communicative competences provided by Teddy and Walker (1994) which is defined as the ability to communicate and understand messages across linguistic boundaries. Moreover, she mentions that a good language teacher must consider three things. The first one is to be principled and knowledgeable in addition to skillful, which means that these three implications must be balanced, otherwise the teacher’s performance would be limited. The second one is that teachers must have present that their professional needs will change over the time. The author mentions that novice teachers are worried about What-to-teach, while expert teachers want to explore How-to and Why questions so their needs are different. Moreover, Pettis (2002) expresses that it is necessary to continue developing those interests and needs so teachers can learn to make better decisions about the activities and techniques used in class. At last Pettis (2002) explains the importance of personal commitment to professional development, meaning that teachers need to be constantly upgraded so they can develop their personal commitment and grow professionally. Crandall (1996) mentions some activities that help teachers to fulfill their personal commitment. It is mentioned among these activities that teachers can take courses, read journals, talk and observe their colleagues, review textbooks and classroom research to conduct. Taylor (2002) refers in a deeper way to one of the activities named above which is the classroom research. Taylor (2002) answers seven questions in his text named “Research in your own classroom. These questions are the following, How might I become interested in investigating my own classroom? The answer of this question is that teachers want to know about their classrooms in practical and theoretical levels. For example, the author explains that in a practical level would be when teachers are interested in how the learners work better, maybe seating in small groups or as a
  4. 4. 4 whole class. And in a theoretical level, would be the patterns of interaction by learners in small-groups settings. How might I make these links between practice and theory?, Collaborate or go it alone?, What have other researchers found out about my area of interest?, How do I go about investigating my own classroom? In this question the author explains four steps. First, teachers must focus on the investigations, then collect the information, analyze the information and finally make sense of it. How can research in my own classroom help my teaching? The author explains that this would help teachers in their planning and teaching their classes in the future through the experimentation and observation of the subjects, in this case, the learners. Thus, teachers are able to see learners’ reactions and orientations in specific situations. Finally, the last question is, do I report my finding?. In addition to one of the points explained by Pettis (2002) about professional development is Hayes (2000) who wrote the paper called “Cascade training and teachers’ professional development”. Hayes (2000) explains in his text a strategy for introducing major innovations into educational systems. This strategy is called cascade model in which training is lead by teachers drawn from a level above. According to Gilpin (1997) this strategy has some benefits, some of them are that the model does not require long periods out of service and it uses existing teaching staff as co-trainers. Nevertheless, it also brings with it some disadvantages, the principal one is that the message is less and less understood the further one goes down the cascade. However, the author states that the model is not the problem but the way in which is often implemented. Therefore, an innovation of the cascade model was implemented. For the cascade training to be successful it should be taking into account that the expertise must be diffused and not concentrated at the top, that the method of conducting the training must be experiential and reflective, the decentralization of responsibilities within the
  5. 5. 5 cascade structure and that the training must be open to reinterpretation. He also relates this strategy to his experience on the development programme called the Sri Lanka primary English language project (PELP). This project has a number of basic principles which are, participative development, context sensitivity, normative re-educative models of training, reflexivity, classroom-centredness, collaboration, responsiveness, continuing professional development. Finally, is the text written by Brown (2001) called “continuing your teacher education” where the author explains four rules to reap success. The first rule is to set realistic goals, the second one is to set priorities, the third is to take risks and at last to practice principles of stress management. Brown (2001) also provides a list of characteristics that a good language teacher must have. First to all, a good teacher must have technical knowledge, which means that the teacher understands the linguistic system of English phonology, grammar and discourse. The second one is to have pedagogical skills, which is to understand and use a wide variety of techniques, use appropriate principles of classroom management, creatively adapt materials and aids, etc… The third characteristic is to have interpersonal skills, which is to be aware of the cross-cultural differences of students, to value their opinions and abilities, to cooperate with colleagues, among others. And the final characteristic is to have personal qualities, which means to be well organized and to set short-term and long-term goals. Brown (2001) also refers to classroom research and he gives four points to start an effective action research. The first one is to convert your ideas into specific questions, the second one operationally define the elements of your questions, the third is to determine how you will answer your question and at last to interpret your results appropriately. Moreover, Brown (2001) explains the importance of teacher collaboration and learning
  6. 6. 6 from each other where teachers can do peer coaching, team teaching, action research, teacher support groups, etc... Evaluation According to Brown (2001) a good language teacher must have technical knowledge, pedagogical skills, interpersonal skills and personal qualities which is similar to what Pettis (2002) wrote. Pettis (2002) explains that a good language teacher must have knowledge which is the equivalent to technical knowledge in Brown’s ideas (2001), a teacher also need to have principles which is the equivalent to interpersonal skills and at last a teacher needs to have skills which is the equivalent to pedagogical skills. One of the main topics in Brown’s (2001) text is the term “action research”. The author points out that teachers are more suitable to make classroom research because they know about what they will investigate. In my opinion, the experience that teachers have inside the classroom is helpful to build the questions that will form the research. Moreover, it is a good way to learn and develop as a professional. The same idea is explained by Taylor (2002) although the name changes to “investigation in your own classroom”. The conclusion was the same, the author believes that if teachers do their own research it would be helpful for them in the future to improve their own performance while planning and using new techniques. The problem is that in our context is difficult that teachers carry out a research because they are not disposed to add more weight to their work and the reward is little in terms of salary which is what is motivating for many teachers. Brown (2001) also promotes the idea of teacher collaboration which is helpful in terms of saving time because a teacher can be beneficiary of a good feedback by being observed by a colleague and not only one
  7. 7. 7 person is beneficiary but both. The person who is observing can also learn from the teacher exposing the class acquiring good ideas from it. Nevertheless, this can also present some problems. Many teachers can feel threatened by being observed or a level of stress can be added to them by knowing they are being evaluated which can affect their performance. Finally, the last important point to mention about Brown (2001) is the topic of critical thinking. It is necessary that teachers allow students to think by themselves, otherwise, teachers would form people without opinion. It is important that a teacher let their students express their thoughts and not force them to have an establish opinion. Pettis (2002) points out in her paper that a teacher with knowledge and principles and without the appropriate skills is limited. It can be said, that is not enough to have the knowledge of a specific subject if you do not know how to deliver it in an effective manner. The same happens in the case that a teacher has the skills but not the knowledge; it is limited because it is impossible to know the techniques to teach and not having clear the information to deliver. That is why people who are an expertise in a certain area but do not have studies of pedagogy need to do a course to learn how to teach. The author also refers to the different needs novice teachers and experienced teachers have. She says that novice teachers are concern with what-to teach and experienced teacher are concerned with how-to and why questions. It is necessary to state my disagreement in this point because what it is more worrying for novice teachers is how-to teach in terms of motivating the students, especially the ones with social risk, because experience is what gives teachers the knowledge to control students. It is important to point out that teachers only have to follow the plans and programs the government gives them to know what to teach and in what level. Nevertheless, what it might be a problem, it is trying to get a group of students to the same English level. In
  8. 8. 8 that case, a teacher would have to modify the program and choose what-to teach to lead the students to a similar level of knowledge. On the other hand, the experienced teachers have the skills to know how-to make a class, which techniques are the best, how to control a group, etc… Finally, the author states that the development of professional competence is a lifelong process and that a teacher should be aware that is both a teacher and a learner. It is easy to agree with this statement because education is moving forward every day, new methodologies, new techniques, new investigations which can help teachers to develop their own skills to become even a better professional and deliver their knowledge of the best way possible. That is why the author encourages teachers to attend conferences, take courses, do classroom research, etc… In this reporting reading and according to Taylor (2002) only teachers can carry out researches because they are the ones who know the context and have the experience to investigate the issues that concern them. Nevertheless, it would be better if in a classroom research not only participate a teacher but also a psychologist. Thus, the analysis of what they investigated would be much more complete, both areas are important at the moment of leading a class. It is worth to remember what Brown (2001) states in his text called “continuing your teacher education”. He said that interpersonal skills are equally important than technical knowledge, which proves that teachers must have in mind the psychological aspects. However, even when Taylor (2002) expresses that teacher must carry out researches it is unlikely to occur in our context. Teachers work an average of 44 hours at schools and the majority of them do not want to add more work than they already have. Some possible solutions for this issue would be the creation of a research bonus where the teachers that have the motivation of developing as professional can be benefited by it. Another solution would be to reduce the average of hours to work by eliminating two hours of classes and leaving them as a teacher
  9. 9. 9 personal development work which can benefit not only the teacher but also the institution by giving them better results. Finally, Taylor (2002) expresses her support to team work. She explains that this way of collaboration it is easier for teachers to learn from your colleagues and talking over methodology problems and issues presented in class. Nevertheless, it is also important to investigate by your own because you might find some journals or resources in a library which can help you with your same area of investigation and in that way you can be prepared to discuss with your colleagues. After reading Ur (2002) it is easy to understand why a teacher cannot be a lay, an amateur, an academic or a technician. Teachers need to be professionals, that is why it is necessary to agree when the author says that a professional teacher may only try out new things if they are confident that they will benefit their students’ learning. That is the distinction between a professional and an amateur, an amateur can commit mistakes because they do things for fun, but we, as pre-service teachers, can not commit big mistakes because we are forming people. Teachers do not only transmit knowledge but also they form people in every aspect of their life to insert them inside a society which is a big responsibility for teachers to commit a mistake. The same happens with technician, they are skillful and they develop those skills through experience and time, but a professional not only needs experience and time, they need pedagogical knowledge, technical knowledge, and interpersonal skills. Another important state made by Ur (2002) is when she says that English teaching has not yet reached the level of professionalism which seems desirable. This happens in Chile, I have noticed in my practice at schools that many English teachers do not reach the necessary standards to teach a second language. That is why educators along the country are being evaluated every year to demonstrate that they are competent and they can carry out their profession in an effective manner. An example of this are teachers of different areas
  10. 10. 10 who get their degree with an “English mention” and they are actually working as English teachers at high schools. A solution for this issue would be the existence of a regulation in which only English teachers can work with the higher levels at school and high schools which require a better technical knowledge from the teacher. Finally, this lead us to the topic that Ur (2002) expresses as a characteristic teachers should have. Teachers must be committed to reach certain standards of performance which is clearly not being carried out. Finally, after analyzing Hayes (2000), it can be said that putting in practice the cascade model in our context would be a benefit for teachers that do not have time for doing a post-graduate course because of their jobs. Moreover, this training would keep teachers active in the process of evaluating if their performance is effective or what they can improve to become a better professional. Therefore, this is a good manner to motivate teachers to keep upgrade and collaborate with their colleagues if the cascade model is implemented in the correct manner. The innovation of the cascade model allowed improving many disadvantages initially found. However, another idea to keep developing this model is to establish monitors in charge to prove that the delivery of the information is the same produce by the primary source. Nevertheless, it can be said that even when the cascade model is a good idea to developing teaching, I still believe that it would be better and easier to receive a direct feedback from the expertise trainer. That is why I find that the idea proposed by Brown (2001) with his “peer coaching” would be more effective. It is worth to remember that with the peer coaching process of collaboration the observer gives the teacher feedback of a specific topic that it needs to be improved which makes it more personalized. On the other hand, with the cascade model teachers are not directly observed but they receive a message to learn from the expertise at the top most levels. Thus, the trainers
  11. 11. 11 who are at the top do not improve their teaching because they are the ones providing the message to learn. The peer coaching proposed by Brown (2001) provides a mutual learning, which means that both sides of the team are benefit, the observer for analyzing another’s one teaching developing the person’s metacognitive ability to reflect on the teaching process and the teacher exposing is benefit by become aware of the weaknesses and strengths of his or her teaching. In addition to this, it might happen that teachers cannot balance their work as an educator and their work as a teacher, which is difficult when you work several hours a week in more than one establishment which happens especially at state-funded schools. Finally, the cascade model proposed by Hayes (2000) it is a good idea but for our own reality and context it would be better to apply the process of collaboration proposed by Brown (2001) called peer coaching.
  12. 12. 12 References Brown, H.D (2001). Continuing your teacher education. In Teaching by principles. An interactive approach to language pedagogy. (pp.426-447) Crandall,J. (1996,May). The challenge of professionalism and professionalization in ESL. Keynote address presented at the national TESL Canada Conference in Winnipeg. Hayes, D. (2000). Cascade training and teachers’ professional development. ELT Journal, 54/2, 135-145. Pettis,J. (2002). Developing our professional competence: some reflections. In Richards, J.C. & Renandya, W.A (Eds.), Methodology in language teaching. (pp.393-396). New York, USA: Cambridge University Press. Taylor, E. (2002). Research in your own classroom. In Richards, J.C. & Renandya, W.A (Eds.), Methodology in language teaching. (pp.397-403). New York, USA: Cambridge University Press. Tedick, D.J., & Walker, C.L. (1994). Second language teacher education: The problems that plague us. Modern Languages Journal, 78, 300-312. Ur,P. (2002).The English teacher as professional. In Richards, J.C. & Renandya, W.A (Eds.), Methodology in language teaching. (pp.388-392). New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.