Professional Development | 2IntroductionProfessional development is seen as long-term learning opportunities which dependsbasically on the own person in question—the teacher in this case. Hence, we interviewed ateacher that finished University last year and is currently taking a master degree at theUniversidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción.To what we consider from the information taken from the corresponding interview, wasalso considered different views from different authors about what professional developmentis, what are the main characteristics of it are, how a teacher can be professionally developedand what is the purpose of reaching this “status”.At the end of the following analysis, there is a comparison between what theory says andwhat the teacher interviewed told us about what she thinks of professional developmentwhich would be helpful for other teachers in their process of seeking a professionaldevelopment status.
Professional Development | 3Research QuestionIs professional development relevant for teaching English as a foreign language?Theoretical frameworkProfessional development is a very important topic for everyone who really cares abouttheir profession and intends to have a successful career. It calls for autonomy andcommitment to be developed within a certain community, which in the case of teachers‟ isconstantly moving. According to Ur (2002) we do not just teach: we also learn,continually—about our subject matter, about teaching methods and about many other thingsthat make us better educated and therefore better educators (p. 391) Because, fromexperience we know that teaching does not involve only teaching, but also learning fromthe environment that surrounds us and why not, our own students. For the same reason wecannot permit ourselves to teach because we want to try something new; Ur (2002) statesthat the professional cannot allow himself or herself „to have a go‟ at teaching or to do itbadly (p. 389). From this we can infer teaching is more of a lifestyle if you will, rather thanjust a profession. We have to adequate ourselves to this profession and not the other wayaround.
Professional Development | 4Brown (2000) uses the term “peak performer” as that person who is reaching his/her fullestpotential and therefore who reap success. Among others, this type of person ischaracterized by taking risks; this is a person who is not afraid to try new things. Brownadds that it is not a matter of simply taking risks because it should be in learning from ourown „failures‟. So, according to what Brown suggests, teachers should reach their fullestpotential through risks which should be taken from the moment you start being a teacherand this should also be based on their own errors—„failures‟ as he considers it. Beingsuccessful involves continually improving our practice, but reflective teaching goes beyondthe level of acquiring new techniques. As Barlett (1990) points out, “As teachers we haveto transcend the technicalities of teaching and think beyond the need to improve ourinstructional techniques” (p. 205). Teachers who are ill prepared for the demands ofteaching are those who has to be more aware of being well-prepared through acquiringinstructional techniques—as Barlett suggests or, as Brown suggests, taking risks in order tobe a peak performer to make a success of their failures.On another front, “Becoming reflective forces us to adopt a critical attitude to ourselves asindividual second language teachers—to challenge our espoused personal beliefs aboutteaching” (ibid., 213). Richards (2002) and Nunan (2001) note that “experience alone isinsufficient for professional growth, and that experience coupled with reflection is a muchmore powerful impetus for development” (p. 201), that is to say teachers should never feelfully developed simply because it is an ongoing process—as Bailey, Curtis and Nunan(2001) also points out that teachers never stop learning because they have to improve theirteaching skills throughout their life in order to become better professionals, and by
Professional Development | 5incorporating a reflection into their professional growth would result in a propercombination for obtaining good results.Ur (2002) makes some comparisons between the profession of being a teacher and someother categories which are the following: Teacher vs. Lay Teacher vs. Amateur Teacher vs. Technician Teacher vs. AcademicNow each of these comparisons made us think that teachers should have a bit of each inorder to be more complete.For example in the first case it is good that like the lay population, we try to communicateeach other as colleagues and shape a strong community which will be in constant contact,sharing discoveries and experiences.Secondly, it is never bad to be passionate about doing something and as we previouslymentioned we have to really take a commitment in teaching but it is good to keep thatamateur we all have inside because as Ur (2002) states, an amateur does things for fun, forthe love of it (p. 389) We already know that it is very important to take our profession ofteaching very seriously but having fun teaching and loving the fact of doing it is just asimportant.
Professional Development | 6In the case of the third comparison, we are both technicians and teachers. Technicianspractice constantly in order to develop skills and be more competent using them. Thoughteachers develop their skills through practice and the use of knowledge patterns that willallow them to reflect—as was mentioned before on how they should be developed. (Ur2002)Finally, we considered this comparison to be the most important because is a must thatteachers gradually become a mix between an academic and a professional. The professionalis always an active participant who focuses on real time experiences and learning, while theacademic is more of a passive character who is more focused on research (Ur 2002). Wemake the distinction of passive and active just to make a contrast between the two for noneof them can be considered better than the other one. As a matter of fact teachers shouldalways focus on real time action as well as backing it up with constant research andcontextualization.
Professional Development | 7Data: Chart.Note: Due to a format issue the corresponding chart cannot bedisplayed here. Please check the document showed below “Data:Chart Professional Development”.
Professional Development | 8Data: DiscussionTo be fully developed is, as we know, a very important aspect in any professional‟s career.We mentioned a few comparisons that should be mixed together as much as possible inorder to be a good professional and also to make a contribution to the big community allteachers conform.Our interviewee, in question number 2 of the “importance” category answered: 1. Do you think it is important to be fully developed professionally? Why? Of course, I think that it‟s very important to be fully developed professionally because that‟s the way in which a teacher contributes to education and the task becomes easier since the teacher knows exactly how to perform in different situations.In this answer we can see she clearly takes into account professional development assomething important for a teacher because it contributes to the community as well asenhancing the way you face each class making it easier to come up with different and betterideas each time.By mixing each of these comparisons mentioned beforehand into your way of developingyour career will help you to be a more competent teacher and as the interviewee mentions“professional development is what a professional do to be better at what he or she does”. Itoccurs when professional people—teachers in this case, become more skillful”. By skillful
Professional Development | 9we can recall the characteristics of either a technician or the academic and why not, both. Ateacher with these characteristics is more active and at the same time more careful; alwayspaying attention to research labour and methodology enhancing.Again the importance of working within a community is mentioned in the answers theinterviewee gave by affirming teachers “should attend seminars” and interacting with otherteachers”. It is clearly stated that teachers should have both a wide range of skills and alsolearn to work within a community in order to experiment and create a body of knowledgethat will be useful for the community.
Professional Development | 10ConclusionWhat our interviewee believes is not far away from what theory suggests. In general terms,the teacher in question thinks that professional development is a must all teachers shouldhave because it would help him/her to improve his/her performance in the classroom.According to what our interviewee told us, teachers who do not have a post degree are notthat professional as they think they are because not having it means that they are notinterested in improving their knowledge in both pedagogical and linguistic terms;consequently there is no reflection as it was suggested by the authors. What the intervieweeadds to this, was that teachers that just finished Universities can be hired by a certain schoolin order to get more experience—to be exposed to empirical situations in the classroom.On another front, both interviewee and theory agree that by expanding and sharing one‟sknowledge with other teachers there would be a more fruitful input which would be helpfulfor them in terms of acquiring another point of view about a same situation.After reading what different authors suggest in their theories and considering what ourinterviewee contributed to our research, the answer we were seeking to the question “Isprofessional development relevant for teaching English as a foreign language?” cannot beclearer. Of course, professional development is actually relevant for teaching English as aforeign language because: It is an ongoing process, so teaching is not the final goal of a professional teacher, but keeping on learning continually.
Professional Development | 11It would be fruitful for teachers when knowledge is shared with colleagues.It promotes to be a better teacher by accepting challenges and considering his/herfailures as opportunities to make a success of them.It also promotes a deep reflection about teacher‟s attitude towards trying newthings, because experience alone is not sufficient for professional growth.It means that teachers still have that amateur inside; that personal character whichpush them to do things for fun because they passionately love what they do—teaching in this case.It aspires to be an impact on educational reforms because the more opportunitiesteachers acquire, the more successful and effective those reforms and the work ofthe teacher is.It provides teacher with contextualized materials, tools and methods.
Professional Development | 12References Bailey, K.M, Curtis, A & Nunan, D. (2001). Pursuing professional development: the self as source. Heinly & Heinly. Brown, H.D (2000). Teaching by principles: an interactive approach to language pedagogy. Pearson Education. Richards, J. C. & Renandya, W. A. (2002). Methodology in Language Teaching. An Anthology of Current Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Professional Development | 13AppendixImportance 2. What do you think methodology is, considering the type of methodology you use in class? Methodology is the way in which I teach the content. It involves the resources I decide to use in order to teach English or the resources I want my students to use to learn English. It‟s the way in which I carry out the goal within the classroom. 3. Do you think it is important to be fully developed professionally? Why? Of course, I think that it‟s very important to be fully developed professionally because that‟s the way in which a teacher contributes to education and the task becomes easier since the teacher knows exactly how to perform in different situations. 4. Would you hire a teacher that has just finished university without a master degree? Why? If the teacher finished university recently, I would hire him or her because the teacher can gain experience in a couple of years and then decide to study again. I
Professional Development | 14 can encourage teachers to continue studying. But if the teacher has been teaching for many years and hasn‟t taken on any master degree, I wouldn‟t hire him or her since it means that he or she doesn‟t care about education.Activities 1. Have you taken on courses or obtained master’s degrees once you finished university? How long did it take you? Once I finished university I decided to take on a master degree of applied linguistics at UCSC, it lasts two years and I‟m about to finish the first one. 2. Have you had the opportunity of teaching abroad? If so, did it change your form of seeing professional development? I haven‟t been abroad. 3. Did you take on courses outside the country? If so, do you think there is a big difference between those and the ones imparted here? As I said before, I haven‟t been abroad.
Professional Development | 15Professional Development 1. From what you have seen through your career, would you give me a vision of what professional development is? Professional development is what a professional do to be better at what he or she does. It occurs when professional people, teachers in this case, become more skillful. Professional development involves being aware of the community of education, in the case of teachers, and they should participate in seminars. 2. To what extent do you think professional development impacts the way any teacher’s career develops? Has it affected yours? As I have been studying most of the time and I have participated in reflection seminars, I have been learning a lot of things that make me a better teacher and a better person, too. That issue makes me think that the impact that professional development has is very important for anyone‟s career because a professional can be better by expanding and sharing knowledge. 3. Do you think teachers in Chile are fully developed professionally? Do you consider it important? Why? University teachers are fully developed professionally and it is reflected on the way they interact with other teachers at seminars and they research a lot. Maybe, school
Professional Development | 16teachers aren‟t very developed professionally but the ones that are fully developedprofessionally stand out above the rest.