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Pedagogy is a complex area considering the far-reaching and valuable roles the teachers have to play for individual and for the society. A large body of recent research has stressed that an effective teaching involves more than processes that merely create knowledge and understanding. It also involves relationships and interpersonal skills as well as about learning approaches (Churches et al, 2008).Â To be a highly effective teacher one must focus on a wide range of skills and techniques applying them in a personalised way.
According to the General Teaching Council, all who are qualified as a teacher should endorse the professional code and should demonstrate professional values and practices (http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=397749§ion=1.5.4). Professional values mean the complex set of beliefs that are considered to be appropriate for teachers to have and practical actions that can be taken to convey those beliefs to pupils. This would enable the teachers to improve the effectiveness of teaching and professional learning. Hence the teachers must demonstrate all of the following:
They have high expectations of all pupils; respect their culture, language, religion, and ethnicity and are committed to raising their educational achievement.
They treat the pupil with respect and consideration and aim for their development as learners
They demonstrate and promote positive values, attitudes and behaviour that they expect from their pupils
They can communicate effectively and sensitively with the parents and pupils
They can contribute to the corporate life of the institution
They are aware of the of the contribution that other related professions make to teaching and learning
They are able to improve their own learning and are motivated for continuous professional development.
Being aware of the professional values and what is expected from the teachers will help the students of teacher training to set their goals and objectives accordingly.
I myself am a teacher in an HEI acute and critical care to nursing and allied health professionals. I believe that being aware of what is required and expected from teachers in their profession had been very helpful during my teacher training. It helped me to analyse and assess my learning needs and therefore identify where I need to focus upon. Hence the familiarity with these values is essential for development of professional values during teacher training.
My learning need analysis during my teacher training identified that I need to focus more on two things;
an understanding of different theories of learning for effective teaching as raising the educational achievement of students and their development as learners are part of their professional values.
better ways to enhance my communication skills
A firm understanding of learning and developmental processes is essential to make effective and valuable class room decisions. The learning style theory had been of particular interest to me which states that every individual has a particular style and tendency of learning and if the teaching takes that into consideration, promising results can be achieved (Robotham et al, 1999) . If there is a mismatch between the individuals /student's preferred style of learning and the teacher's approach, the student might loose interest in the programme although physically she/he will be present. However, the practical application of this theory has been unclear. Being an activist and pragmatist, I believe that this learning style theory can be put into practice for an effective teaching. As pointed out by Robotham (1999), self-directed learning is a suitable option where an individual actively selects from a personal style or portfolio. A knowledge of self-directed learning acquired during my teacher training made me interested in exploring the use of this teaching method. This involves the removal of barriers to self-directed learning such as rigid programme structures. I also learnt that if a lecturer is prepared to step back and give a room to students to define and devise learning strategies and to make mistakes, the higher education teaching can move beyond the evaluation of grades and performance to effective learning and development of an individual as a whole. My own teaching skills have improved since I have learned this and other theories of learning. A baseline knowledge of the developmental theories have enabled me to understand various aspects of the nature of my students and hence it has also boosted my confidence as a teacher.
My experience as teacher made me realize that an effective communication is vital for robust training. It has been pointed out that knowledge of a teacher make fifty percent of teaching while communication skills make the rest of the fifty percent. A proficient communication with the students is important for teaching in all fields including health and social care (Faulkner et al, 2001). My learning during my training enabled me to polish my communication skills as a teacher. Since effective communication with the pupils and parents is a part of professional values for teaching, the development of such skills has been a significant part of my teacher training. I learned various verbal and non-verbal ways of teaching. The non-verbal ways of teaching involve the use of body, language, posture, eye movements, facial expressions, hand movements and appearance etc. (Prozesky, 2000). Verbal communication skills also have their own impact and can be challenging at times but a few guidelines can make this communication productive and effective which i acquired during my teacher training. Use of different learning aids can also prove helpful such as audio-visual aids which can provide the visual reference to the knowledge being communicated. Written material such as hand outs, posters and specially practical demonstrations are also considered as factors for effective teaching (Papa, 2009). An understanding of these skills of communication has improved my efficiency as teaching which I have assessed by receiving student feedbacks.
I also realized that for teaching in professions such as social and health care professions, an effective communication can be in the form of practical demonstration. Such demonstrations can be helpful in effective student learning.
Moreover, it is significant to learn how to teach effective communication skills to students. This is especially applicable in fields such as social care and health care professions where efficient communication is essential for a good practice. It has also been pointed out that teaching communication skills to health care professionals requires formal training (Faulkner et al, 2003) which I feel has been provided during my training as a teacher.
More recently another technique that had found its wide spread uses in many fields including teaching is the neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). This has attracted considerable attention and was initially developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in 1970's. (Miller et al, 2009). It is the technique that primarily allows us to uncover how peoples minds are programmed. It is sometimes described as owner's manual to the brain or study of human excellence. The NLP studies not only tell us what effective people do but they also tell us how they do it. It has been recognized as powerful tool to develop the communication and interpersonal skills. NLP has been used by health workers, construction people, golf players, teachers, small business owners, students, lawyers, educators, entrepreneurs, massage therapists, police, military, fire personnel, employers and employees, managers and salespeople, presidents, prime ministers and blue-collar workers alike.Â
Being an activist I find this technique more innovative and it interests me to learn it and apply it in my teaching while communicating with my students.
Being an effective tool for strong communication, NLP holds much potential for teaching and learning professions. It has widespread implications in the practice of education and learning (Lyall, 2002). NLP offers solutions to problems which might be encountered in teaching such as classroom management (Tosey and Mathison, 2003).
With reference to teaching and eduction, NLP might be characterised as following:
The student-teacher relationship is an active process with feebacks involved and not just transmission of knowledge and content from one individual to another -.e. teacher to student.
The understanding of the world around them make them act accordingly
The way of people to represent the world is of concern regarding NLP. It can be through through sensory imagery (principally visual, auditory and kinaesthetic) and language.Of particular interest is the structure of these internal representations such as location, size, brightness. NLP tells us that these internal presentations follow a pattern which is unique to each individual.
According to NLP the pattern of these relationships help in understanding of ones language and behaviour. A learning of technique for NJP from my teacher training program should enable to observe and then use these aspects.
Communication exists between teacher and learner, which might be verbal and non-verbal, both consciously and unconsciously. Most of the communication is through an unconscious state of mind rathe than conscious efforts.
All communication might have itsinfluence on learning. Hence, teachers' language and behaviour influence learners on at least two levels simultaneously; both their understanding of the topic in question (e.g. the dynamic structure of their internal representations), and their beliefs about the world, including about learning.
My learning of NLP can be summarized by saying that NLP is a way of thinking and set of skills that helps to develop more focus, self esteem, power to make good decisions, focus, direction, self confidence, ability to create wealth, productivity, less procrastination and faster progress.
Teaching is a dynamic process. As a teacher I have observed that many different situations may arise in a class which we might not be able to handle effectively through the standard procedures. My teacher training has equipped me with the skills not only applicable to defined situations but also the fundamental skills required for unusual topics and circumstances.
Another part of my training is to motivate the students by making them to understand that teaching is a complex process and different methodologies to improve teaching keep on changing. This led me to realize the significance of updating of the knowledge of teaching methodologies during my career. This is in accordance with the professional values of teaching that we need to follow. Hence, updating of existing knowledge through continuous professional development is valuable during the whole teaching career (Christopher and Judyth, 2005).
The future professional development during my career will be dependent on three motivating factors(Hustler et al, 2003):
individual needs (my own motivation)
Through proper strategic planning these can complement each other rather than compete each other. However many times the organizations feel that it is not their responsibility to provide opportunities of professional development to their staff. The staff members should be able to communicate effectively with the administration for provision of such opportunities. This can be achieved if they are well motivated and take the initiative. However, if still unsuccessful the teacher should look for other resources such as independent organizations which also provide this service through workshops, courses and online information.
Hence continuous professional development can improve on individual's knowledge, skills, understanding and quality of teaching. It is meant to support the individual needs and therefore improve the professional practice and development.
To summarize, I feel that my training as a teacher developed skills in me which not only made me a better teacher but are also important for working in accordance with the teacher's professional values. I feel that the most important aspects that I learned for making my teaching effective are the different theories of learning and innovative ways of strong communication such as neuro-linguistic programming. For future continuous professional development, I feel that the motivation of individuals for further learning of new knowledge and skills is significant which can also be provided during the training of teachers.