The Definition Of Professional Development Education Essay

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Stepping into the new millennium, educational systems around the world have been experiencing changes and reforms. Many societies around the world are engaging in serious and promising educational reforms in order to provide a high quality education for their citizens. This reform has also occurred in the field of teacher professional development, which has been changing so rapidly and frequently all around the world. It has been acknowledged that teachers are not only one of the 'variables' that need to be changed in order to improve the educational system but are also the most significant agents in this reform. This dual role of teachers as the subjects and objects of change has made the field of teacher professional development a growing and challenging area in this era. Teachers in today's world are under a growing pressure to perform. Higher expectations and greater needs now pressure the teachers to perform effectively in classroom. It all comes down to quality teachers who are the determinants of student achievement. Even the most prepared and genuinely qualified teacher still has a great deal to learn when they begin to teach. Hence it is vitally essential that teachers are well prepared when they begin to teach and they continue to improve their knowledge and skills throughout their careers.

1.1 Definition of Professional Development

What is professional development? Professional development, in a broad sense refers to the development of a person in his or her professional role, be it a teacher, lawyer, engineer or doctor. To be more specific Glatthorn (1995) states that, teacher development is the professional growth a teacher achieves as a result of gaining increased experience and examining his or her teaching systematically. These professional developments could be either formal experience as attending workshops or professional meetings, mentoring or informal experiences; such as reading professional publications, watching television documentaries related to any academic disciplines (Ganser, 2000). Further Glatthorn (1995) defines it as "the growth that occurs as the teacher moves through the professional career cycle", and it is definitely broader than staff-development which is "the provision of organized in-service programmes designed to foster the growth of groups of teachers; it is only one of the systematic interventions that can be used for teacher development".

No matter how good pre-service training for teachers is, it cannot be expected to prepare teachers for all the challenges they will face throughout their careers. Education systems therefore seek to provide teachers with opportunities for in-service professional development in order to maintain a high standard of teaching and to retain a high-quality teacher workforce. As OECD's comparative review on teachers noted (OECD, 2005):

Effective professional development is on-going, includes training, practice and

feedback, and provides adequate time and follow-up support. Successful programmes involve teachers in learning activities that are similar to ones they will use with their students, and encourage the development of teachers' learning communities. There is growing interest in developing schools as learning organisations, and in ways for teachers to share their expertise and experience more systematically.

The definition recognises that development can be provided in many ways, ranging from the formal to the informal. It can be made available through external expertise in the form of courses, workshops or formal qualification programmes, through collaboration between schools or teachers across schools like observational visits to other schools or teacher networks; or within the schools in which teachers work. Development can also be provided through coaching/mentoring, collaborative planning and teaching, and the sharing of good practices.

Definition of Mentoring

Learning new curricula, dealing with classroom management and discipline, integrating students with special needs, using technology, individualizing student programs, coordinating extracurricular activities and being accountable to the various stakeholders of education are just a few of the jobs teachers do. Many of these duties are difficult for the most experienced professional, so one wonders how beginning teachers survive, since they are expected, on their very fi rst day of employment, to do the job of a seasoned veteran. Many school districts, seeing a need to nurture the new generation of teachers, have put in place formal mentorship programs.

Mentoring is a nurturing process, in which a more skilled person, serving as a role model, teaches, sponsors, encourages, counsels and befriends a less skilled or less experienced person for the purpose of promoting the latter's professional development. Mentoring functions are carried out within the context of an ongoing, caring relationship between the mentor and the protégé (Anderson 1988).

Informal mentoring which is buddy system is not enough. Formal mentoring programs must be replaced with informal mentoring programs. This move is needed to be taken due to experienced teachers do not want to intrude, new educators often do not ask for the help which they may need, beginning teachers need to observe new effective teaching models and informal mentoring does not improve teaching over time. Informal mentoring programs are difficult to identify and support. There is a need to identify who is obtaining support and the quantity as well as the quality of that support.

1.3 Definition of Mentor

A mentor is the one who fosters growth in professional practice and nurtures the maturation and acculturation of a younger or newer member of the profession; an experienced or trusted advisor.

1.4 Definition of Mentee

A mentee is the one who is mentored by another; a person of whom another is protector or patron.


2.1 Informal Mentoring

Studies indicate that the model of informal mentoring, the level of competence of the mentee usually reaches the level of the mentor. This is a result of not going farther than the initial orientation of the mentee. The mentor provides teaching materials, classroom teaching strategies, and unit and long-range plans for the benefit of the mentee. This could be referred to as an apprenticeship model. The competence level of the mentor does not increase under this model. No reflective practice is in place, and no action research is carried out by mentor or mentee. Little professional growth of the mentor takes place under this informal or buddy system.

2.2 Formal Mentoring

Under a formal mentoring process, the mentee not only reaches the competency level of the mentor but grows beyond the established baseline along with the mentor. The mentor may share materials but also goes beyond the sharing and moves into the development of materials within a collaborative team. This requires reflective practice, collaborative planning and action research coupled with a joint action plan by the mentor and mentee. Through this process both mentor and mentee soar to new heights of professional growth and competence.

2.3 Rationale for a Mentorship Program

There are a few rationale for conducting the mentorship program. The rationales are to support a district's priority of ensuring high-quality teaching, improved student achievement and staff well-being, provides a unique opportunity for experienced teachers to impart some of their knowledge, experience and wisdom to beginning teachers, recognizes teachers as a valued district resource, extends the range of new teacher initiatives available in districts, creates a positive impact on attraction and retention of high-quality teaching staff and lastly it facilitates shared responsibility for career-long professional growth and development through collaboration of ATA locals, school districts, regional professional development consortia and Alberta universities.

2.4 Relationship of Purposes of Mentorship and Stages of Novice Teacher Development

Beginning teachers need to be assisted to move from the Initial Orientation stage through the Improved Professional Practice stage to the Developing a Learning Community stage. This is the purpose and goal of mentoring.

At the initial orientation, the mentee needs to concentrate in learning about the school. There are some questions that needed to focus on certain questions like:

How do you learn to plan and teach?

How do you plan curriculum?

How do you manage student behaviour?

At the improved professional practice, the mentee need to question them in order to develop self directed learning. Questions as listed below need to always adhere in the mind of the mentee.

How do you learn to improve teaching practice?

What do you do to make it work better?

How do you reflect - for teaching? - in teaching? - on teaching?

At the developing a professional learning community stage, the teacher need to have this question pinned in the mind.

What needs to be done to develop a collaborative community of learners?

Stages of Teacher Development

2.5 Basic Assumptions of a Successful Program

There are few assumption that being extracted from studies which is been highlighted here. The first assumption is the mentoring is the central feature of a successful induction process. Via mentoring one mentor is able to guide a mentee personally and is also able to correct any mistakes conducted by the mentee at the point of the mistake being carried out. Second assumptions, without mentoring, new staff focuses on Orientation and take considerable time to move to the Professional Practice and Learning Community stages. This results in dragging the time in achieving and completing the stages in the teacher professional development.

Thirdly, both the mentor and the mentee will gain from the mentoring experience as it has reciprocal relationship or better said as two way communications. The fourth assumption is that mentorship activities, structures and programs can vary widely, from mentor-mentee pairs to teams of mentors. Fifth are good teachers do not necessarily make good mentors. A different set of skills is needed to work effectively with adult learners. Sixth, the mentors should be able to volunteer or to say, "No, not this year." , seventh is learning to be a good mentor takes time. And the last assumption is the mentors move from being expert teachers to novice mentors to expert mentors. Training for mentors is needed from one level to the next.


3.1 Colleagues in Reflection

There are three areas of support for the beginning teacher. Mentors need to recognize the importance of providing supports to their mentee. The three areas that are highlighted are service providers, assistance providers as well as also being support providers.

(Enz 1992, p 74, modifi ed)

The three areas which are being highlighted has interrelationship between one to another. When a mentor acts as service provider, the mentor collaborates with the mentee which means that they work together. It is very crucial for the mentor to work together with the mentee as the mentor is the one who guide a novice teacher entirely in order to develop them into a better teacher with appropriate teaching and learning style.

When referring the mentor as the assistance provider, it relates to the relationship built by the mentor and the mentee. When a teacher needs to be a mentor, first the teacher needs to built confidence in them and reflect themselves as a collaborator, coach and role model. It is very important to play the role of a collaborator, as when the mentee seeks for help, the first person whom will appear in the mind will be the mentor. Being a collaborator, the mentor provides ideas and techniques in developing a better lesson plans for an effective teaching. The mentor uses the skills that he/she obtained throughout their experience. Apart of this, the mentor also needs to be a coach as in coaching the novice teaching from one step to another step one at a time. The mentor needs to plan on how to coach the mentee so that they do not feel pressured. And lastly mentor has to be the role model to ensure that they can influence the mentee and lead the mentee to be like them. When the mentor reflects as a role model, surely the mentee will put such effort in forth to be like the one who inspired them.

Lastly, looking into the support provider, it involves the confidant, advisor, and a friend. Apart of being service and assistance provider, it circulates around the professional relationship between the mentor and the mentee. Sometimes it is very important for the mentor moving out from the circle and be more flexible to their mentee. It is a norm of human when dealing with a person who is much more experienced than them, they fear to talk or share their thoughts. This can be changed if the mentor provides a warmer welcome at times and provide the shoulder as a friend for the mentee to lean on when they need one. When this relationship or bond is been created, the mentee will feel secured and convenience to be open and will share or speak up when they have problems. This will enable the mentor to help and guide the mentee in the problems by discussing the solutions that can ease the problem.

Mentoring Context

Adapted from Anderson 1998, p 41, Enz 1992, p 74

In the mentoring context, there is a planning cycle which contains three areas in which novice teachers need assistance: professional, instructional, and personal and emotional. These areas are interrelated. There are eight processes which go along with the cycle. First will be the new growth plan which will be pre planned by the mentors and higher authorities. This will be followed by building trust with and within the mentee. This will later relate to the school policies and procedures, lesson planning, conferencing self-analysis, growth plan, focused observation, focused conferencing and coaching, and lastly again returning to the starting of the cycle that is the new growth plan.


4.1 Role of the Mentor

Mentor teachers are increasingly sought to provide more effective school-based support for beginning teachers. Successful mentorship depends upon clarity of participant roles and responsibilities. Successful programs have shown that mentors should continue to teach while serving as mentors. This is due to ensuring that the mentor has the hands on practice and never lose the touch in the art of teaching. Next, the mentor has to understand the typical needs and challenges of the novice teacher develop and use a variety of strategies to assist the beginning teacher, prepare themselves for effective one-on-one consultation with individual teachers, initially focus their efforts in areas known to be difficult for novice teachers, make the accumulated wisdom of other experienced teachers accessible to beginning teachers and lastly develop strategies for giving acceptance and support for the beginning teacher within the school context.

4.2 Responsibilities of the Mentor

The responsibilities of mentors, once matched, are to encourage and support the acculturation of the mentee into the district, prepare and implement a joint mentorship growth plan with the mentee, maintain a relationship with the protégé consistent with the Code of Professional Conduct, model and demonstrate effective teaching strategies, observe and provide feedback to the mentee, assist the mentee in identifying personal strengths and planning for further professional growth, and assist the mentee with curriculum and instructional planning.

4.3 Role of the Mentee

The role of the mentee is complex. As a beginning teacher, the mentee is a qualified professional as is the mentor. The difference lies in the repertoire of teaching and management strategies that the experienced, veteran teacher possesses.

Just as the role of the mentor is based on a number of understandings, the role of the mentee is based on some key principles. For the most part mentee still have much to learn about putting their knowledge to work, develop their own teaching styles over time, develop active listening and consultation skills, are committed to an ethos of collegial reflective practice, develop observation and analytic strategies to enhance their teaching effectiveness, provide guidance, support and assistance in analyzing teaching that enhances their own teaching effectiveness; and move through well-delineated stages of development from day-to-day survival to concerns about managing responsibilities to concerns about the impact of their teaching to raising questions about their profession.

Responsibilities of the Mentee

The responsibilities of the mentee, once matched with a mentor, are to prepare and implement a joint mentorship growth plan with the mentor and maintain a relationship with the mentor consistent with the Code of Professional Conduct.


5.1 For the Novice Teacher

The novice teacher will be able to access to the knowledge, experience and support of a mentor teacher, enhanced personal and professional well-being because of reduced stress during the transition, increased job success, self-confidence and self-esteem, reduced trial-and-error learning and accelerated professional growth and lastly support for successful induction into the teaching career.

5.2 For the Mentor

As for the mentor, the mentoring process will increased learning, renewal and teaching performance, recognition as an excellent teacher conferred through status as a mentor, refocus on instructional practices and the development of reflective skills, opportunity to serve the profession and gratitude of the mentee.

5.3 For the Administrator

As for the administrator, the mentoring will be a helping hand from the mentor with beginning teacher orientation and support, better performance from both beginning and mentor teachers and reduced teacher attrition and time required for beginning teacher recruitment, development, supervision and problem solving.

5.4 For Students

As in the students view, the mentoring process will prove them teachers who focus on student needs rather than their own survival, increased instructional continuity due to reduced annual teacher turnover, better teachers, who are less authoritarian and dominating and more reflective and disposed to continuous improvement and teachers whose self-confidence leads them to use a wider range of instructional strategies and activities

5.5 For the Profession

As far as the profession concern, the mentoring profits by providing the retention of the best, most creative teachers, retention of experienced teachers who find a new challenge and opportunity for growth by serving as mentors, increased continuity of traditions and positive cultural norms for behaviour and establishment of professional norms of openness to learning from others, new ideas and instructional practices, continual improvement, collaboration, collegiality and experimentation


As a conclusion, we can see how mentoring does help one to improve their teaching and learning skills. It does not only provide benefits to the mentee alone but also for the mentor as well as for the whole education organization. Each role and responsibilities of mentor and mentee are discussed here. We also looked into the profits gained by several authorities via the mentoring.

We can conclude that mentoring is a very good practice that can be included in the activities for the professional development. We must also understand that professional development is not an event, nor is it a set of activities in schools. It is a professional responsibility and an integral part of teachers' and principals' professional work.