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The main purpose of the professional development is to empower the teachers, to give them the opportunities and the confidence to act upon their ideas as well as to influence the way they perform in their profession. Empowerment is the process through which teachers become capable of engaging in, having control of, and influencing events and institutions that affect their lives.
Hargreaves and Fullan (1992.9) opine that "the teacher is the ultimate key to educational change and school improvement". Teachers do not simply implement the curriculum. They define and refine the curriculum; they interpret and transform the curriculum in a way that makes learning more manageable for the learners. In other words, it is what teachers think and do at the classroom level that eventually determines what learners learn in the classroom. Thus, given the key role of the teachers in the classroom, it is imperative that professional growth becomes a top priority. Teachers should constantly develop not only their knowledge of the subject matter, but also their knowledge of pedagogy.
Professional growth has three important areas:
To be true professionals, teachers must constantly upgrade their knowledge and understanding of language and language learning. But this is not enough. They should also develop their skills in translating this newly acquired knowledge in their teaching.
Teachers' professional interests and needs change over time. As they progress in their careers, they should also seek out different professional development activities.
Professional development requires a personal and ongoing commitment.
In-service training (INSET) is defined as a planned event, series of events or extended programme of accredited or non-accredited learning, in order to distinguish it from less formal in-school development work and extended partnerships and inter school networks (Day,1990).
As professionals, teachers need to keep pace with the rapid developments in task to fulfill. As Ã-zen (2001) states, due to rapid advances in technology and science the information content of our world today grows and doubles in comparatively short periods of time. Likewise, the roles that individuals have to fill in their professional and personal lives vary so rapidly that it sometimes becomes difficult to follow and to keep pace with them- In this respect, INSET is regarded as necessary for teachers and it is powerful in fostering teacher's development. Therefore, it is widely applied.
According to Day (1999) there is evidence that INSET can and does exercise powerful effects on the thinking and practices of teachers, and thus, indirectly upon the quality of students' classroom experiences. Hiep (2001) claims that along with the teacher training, teachers development fills the gap in training by giving teachers opportunities to reflect on classroom practice, gain insight into teaching experiences and deal with change and divergence.
All things considered, INSET programmes can have important contributions to foster teachers' knowledge and improve their classroom practices. However, the limitations and strengths of these programmes need to be considered. As Day (1999) puts forward, where INSET does not take account of the development phases of teachers, their intellectual and emotional development needs, it is unlikely to enhance their capacity for skilled commitment over the longer period.
Diaz Maggioli (2003.4) observes that "programmes which involve teachers in the planning, organization, management, delivery and evaluation of all actions in which they are expected to participate have more chances of success than those planned using a top-down approach, where administrator's make decisions in lieu of teachers".
2.5.1 Theoretical Context
Effective professional development is considered to be the centre of educational reform (Dilworth & Imig, 1995).
The purpose of professional development programmes is to create effective teachers. From the onset of formal public education through the 1970s, teacher training was generally referred to by the public as "teacher education" or "in-service". By the 1980s, with education under closer scrutiny, it became "staff development". In the 1990s, a push to "professionalize" teaching careers gave birth to the term "professional development". Finally, in 2006, Fullan, Hill and Crevola suggested "professional learning" as a more appropriate term, putting the focus on overall intent - that of lifelong learners who educate others via their professional careers.
Developing effective professional development programmes for educators is critical to student achievement and ultimately of society. Vygotsky's work in education indicated learning is often a social activity (Kozulin, Gindis, Ageyev & Miller, 2003); therefore, teachers must be allowed to work together if they are to become more effective instructors.
Professional development, as defined by the National Professional Development Council of America in 2000, is: "a lifelong collaborative learning process that nourishes the growth of individuals, teams, and the school through a daily job-embedded, learner-centered, focused approach" (DuFour, Eaker, fDuFour, 2006.217). In 2009, the National Staff Development Council began to conduct a critical inquiry into the professional development of educators. Research indicated "session activities should be interactive, collaborative, and encourage participants to be knowledgeable constructors rather than mere recipients of information" (O' Hara & Pritchard, 2008.46). Providing teachers with the power to consider and respond to classroom concerns, to examine alternatives and implement a course of action, it is believed, will promote self-efficacy among educators. Self-efficacy involves a person's ability to analyze alternatives and implement an action plan.
One of the most significant problems with professional development as it exists is that the absolute absence of any correlation between what teachers learn and what they do in their classrooms. There is a disconnected feeling between their classroom instructional practices and the professional development meetings they attend (Fullan, et al., 2006). The unfortunate reality seems to be that many professional development activities are not providing teachers with the necessary tools to help them improve teaching techniques and become more effective and better equipped to deal with their students' needs.
Traditional workshops tend not to be effective for a number of reasons:
An unrealistic amount of content is covered in one session;
The passivity of setting and receiving information creates an atmosphere not conducive to learning - even with a dynamic presenter;
There is no occasion for the presenter to facilitate any type of reflection thereby impeding the learners' opportunity to put into practice what can only take place when they return to instruction in their own classrooms (Chappuis, S., et al., 2009).
Because professional development engages teachers as learners, the lessons, Jehelen (2007) believed, should be taught by current or former master teachers in a manner easily replicated by other professionals. Professional development needs to be differentiated to meet the diversified needs of all teachers. Additionally, it was found to be imperative for teachers to work both individually as well as collaboratively on new pedagogical practices (Fullan, et al., 2006). Continuous professional development can provide cumulative insight and valuable instructional tools to teachers.
Educators need to be able to think deeply not only about their subjects, but also about how they facilitate learning and how the students connect to the material. For decades, professional development has focused on curriculum and new trends in education. The need for increased technological powers has been expressed. Additionally, however, Ritchhart (2004) asserted, "We need to design encounters for teachers in which they can develop their thinking abilities, increase their inclination toward thinking, and become more aware of thinking opportunities in the curriculumâ€¦." (216).
In-service Teacher Education (INSET) in India
The need for ongoing teacher education has been a recurring theme in language teaching circles in recent years and has been given renewed focus as a result of the emergence of teacher-led initiatives such as action research, team teaching and reflective teaching. Opportunities for an in-service education are crucial for long term development of teachers.
The well established tradition of teaching and learning in India has retained its inherent strength even under adverse circumstances. The post-independence period was characterized by major efforts being made to nurture and transform teacher education. The system of teacher education has come under considerable pressure as a result of expansion and growth of school education. Having inherited the foreign model of teacher education at the time of independence from Britain in 1946, major efforts have been made to adapt and upgrade teacher education curriculum to local needs, to make it more context-based. The current system of teacher education is supported by a net work of national state and district level resource institutions working together to increase the quality and effectiveness of teacher education programmes for serving teachers throughout the country.
The changing role of teachers in the changing definitions of teacher effectiveness have been frequently studied and analyzed. The current focus on teacher education is to develop professional competencies, and achieve higher levels of commitment and motivation for higher level performance in teaching. Emerging information and communication technologies is an added dimension to the teacher education programmes. As a result of all these developments, teacher education in India is on the verge of major transformation.
Bolam 1986) define teacher education as:
Education and training activities engaged in by teachers... following their initial professional certification, and intended primarily or exclusively to improve their professional knowledge, skills and attitudes in order that they can educate children...more effectively.
In-service training for teachers in India is provided by:
The State Department of Education.
Colleges of Education.
In-service programmes are often conducted via short term instructional courses and workshops. Many teachers take part in these programmes which contain a mix of many-courses and expository lectures.
Each state has a State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT) and whenever a new curriculum is implemented, massive training programmes are arranged across the state. At the district level, District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETS) undertake education programmes to train the teachers at district level. In the absence of DIETS, the Colleges of Teacher Education (CTEs or IASEs) are entrusted with the responsibilities of training the teachers.
The INSET programmes currently in practice can all be put under five different categories based on the aims of the programmes. The following table familiarizes with some types of INSET programmes currently offered in India.
Types of INSET programmes in India
Organized by educational Institutions such as CIEFL or RIE
Enriching teacher's subject knowledge and pedagogy
Centrally designed programmes such as KV schools
Teaching approaches such as orienting all teachers towards CLT approaches
Locally determined programmes. For e.g. ALC School courses
Attending to the felt needs of schools
One-off short programmes
Specific aims such as teaching vocabulary, or developing materials
Programmes determined by individual needs
Pursuing higher education or self-development
Table 2:1: Types of INSET programmes in India
(Source: Mathew, R.2005)
These programmes differ mainly in their aims of the programmes and thereby differ in their training methodologies also. The takers of the programme also vary in each of these INSET programmes. As a result, the impact of these courses also differ. For example, many teachers who are willing to attend the three month INSET courses offered by the Regional Institute of South India (RIESI) are serious about updating themselves with the latest developments in the field of ELT and re-equipping themselves to meet the changing demands made by the students, parents and the society.
Another example of an INSET course was the 5-Day intensive training programme for teachers working in rural areas which used to be offered by the RIE (in the past) and the programme was funded by the government of India. This programme package was so crammed that none of the areas had any impact on teachers working rural areas because there used to be no follow-up activities and there was no contact between these teachers and the institute. Also there was no space for any practical work or discussions during the 5-day programmes. The locally determined and designed programmes were found to be useful and they were said to have lasting impact on teachers, because they were designed with more weight given to practical work, to immediate the immediate needs of teachers.
From the above discussion, it is clear that most of these INSET programmes are designed to update teachers about the happenings in the field of teaching.
INSET and Teacher Expertise
On a different note, Judith Lloid Yero comments that:
Isn't teacher who spends his or her working life in the classroom who has day-in and day-out experience with the complex interactions that take place between and among students, teachers and knowledge-an expert? Doesn't the teacher who has daily verification of what works and what doesn't, have some measure of expertise? It's a time to stop looking to others for your own expertise (Yero, 2002).
A teacher's self confidence in personal ability to work is essential for successful teaching. A teacher can gain such confidence through various day-to-day teaching experiences. These experiences lead to teacher's self-perceptions of his/her beliefs and the ability to teach. If a teacher is able to look at his/her changing perceptions and adapt to the changing needs of students and be able to change his/her teaching methods, he/she is an expert teacher. To be an expert teacher, he/she has to constantly reflect on his/her day-to-day experiences; monitor his/her developments as a teacher by learning from these experiences.
Even then, a teacher cannot stop totally looking to others for his/her own experience. Reflecting on one's own teaching, sharing and caring experiences coupled with periodical in-service education would enhance the expertise of teachers with right direction and scholarship.
This entire information sounds perfect at the theoretical level but there are several questions one can ask about the impact of these INSET programmes on teachers and teaching. Some of these questions are:
Do these programmes have follow up support activities?
How successful are these programmes in bringing qualitative changes in teachers' assumptions about teaching and learning?
What is the overall effect of these programmes in improving teaching strategies of teachers? And so on.
Until the late 70s, very little work had been done in the area of the effects of in-service teacher education programmes.
"Research into the effectiveness of in-service training is disappointingly scanty" (Henderson, 1978).
Since then, a good amount of work has been done in the area of in-service teacher education and teachers' professional development. However, relatively few of the studies have focused on the effects of in-service teacher education. There is no body of empirically or theoretically generalized knowledge of the impact of INSET programmes because research on INSET rarely builds on or, incorporates other studies (Haplin, 1990). Examples of studies of INSET conducted since the mid 1970s include the work of Henderson (1978) who has undertaken several investigations of INSET programmes, particularly on teacher attitudes, Bell (1981) who has evaluated the responses of course members to post-session evaluation sheets, Smith (1975) who has studied the influence of primary INSET on teachers' work, Dienye (1987) who uses a pre and post tests to access the success of a course designed to improve teachers' subject knowledge, and Evans and Hopkins (1988) who have examined the influence of using educational knowledge gained during INSET on school climate and the teacher's psychological state.
Research on Teacher Development
Features of Effective Programmes
Research on teacher learning and its impact is divided into two waves: the waves of 1960s, which focused on teaching skills, and that of 1919s, which focused on subject matter and student learning. The 1960s wave focused primarily on generic teaching skills, such as allocating class time, providing clear classroom demonstrations, assessing student comprehension during lectures, maintaining attention, and grouping students. During these times and in the early 1970s, studies indicated a concern among educators about the the effectiveness of in-service education (Sparks & Loucks-Horsley, 1989). The studies, however indicated major dissatisfaction with the then current efforts of in-service education, while they also believed in-service was crucial to the improvement of school programmes and practices. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, studies focused on actual practices and resulted in determining effective practices for professional development (Berman & McLaughlin, 1978; Sparks & Loucks-Horsley, 1989). During the 1980s, professional development grew in importance and became the focus of much academic activity, local efforts in school improvement, and legislative attention.
In the 1990s, research delved deeper into student learning, focusing on students' reasoning and problem-solving potentials rather than only on basic skills. It has been indicated that student learning primary depends on teacher learning (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 2000). It is suggested that professional development can influence teachers' classroom practices significantly and lead to improved student achievement when it focuses on (i) how students learn a particular subject matter, (ii) instructional practices that are specifically related to the subject matter and how students understand it; and (iii) strengthening teachers' knowledge of specific subject-matter content. Close alignment of professional development with actual classroom conditions has become a key concern. For example, a primary school English language teacher who teaches reading skills needs to know how reading is taught and how students learn reading effectively.
It has been found that the conventional, top-down, exert-driven, and one-off shot approach to teacher development results in little change (Little, 1993; Clarke and Hollingsworth, 2002). This is because here teachers are 'developed' by outside 'experts', rather than participating in decision making for their own development (Lieberman, 2000). The existing bureaucracies tend to create "one-size-fits-all" solutions that often fail to make distinctions among different kinds of school and classroom contexts, or between the needs of novice and experienced teachers. Moreover, the trainings were unrelated to classroom contexts and teaching practice. Teachers have been considered as passive receivers of perspective programmes, given little time or incentive to integrate these new programmes into their classroom practice. Therefore, reform-based teacher development has found to be effective in bringing change that is needed. As it is well stated, in the one-off professional development courses, teachers adopt external features of new programme (e.g. in terms of discourse, how they describe their teaching objectives, or the classroom activities they claim to use in lesson plans or discussions with supervisors or head teachers), while in practice they continue to use the tried and trusted methods with which they have long been familiar.
Research on professional development so far had different modes- case studies of individual schools/districts with promising programmes (Richardson, 2003), and summaries of years of experiences learned by authors (see Darling-Hammond and McLaughlin, 1996. Most of them focussed on large scale surveys of teachers about their professional development experiences (Porter, et al, 2000; Supovitz, Mayer & Kahle, 2000). According to these studies, professional development is considered as 'effective' if it leads to desirable changes in practices. Nevertheless, only a few studies rate a professional development programme as 'effective' if it results in improved student achievement (see Kennedy, 1998; Cohen and Hill, 1998 & 2001. In connection with this second point KIllion's (1998) extensive review of studies indicates that the majority of teacher development projects contained no student achievement measure. It is indicated that positive teacher effects have been reported for intensive professional development delivered over extended time periods to volunteers but such studies rarely include student outcome data.
Research in different fields indicated that there are features of a professional development programme that lead to effective teacher training. The reviews of the studies are presented below.
Hayes (2006) indicates the effect of the Sri Lankan Primary English Language Project (PELP), which is component of British-funded project. He reported that children taught by teachers who received the training consistently outperformed children taught by teachers who did not attend the training. It is indicated the PELP provides supports to teachers in the implementation process. It focuses on activities that help young learners learn effectively. PELP is operationalized through a network of 30 regional support centres (RESCs). As part of follow-up to the programmes, "all staff have been required to make available in their centres special programmes for children from local primary schools, involving, for e.g. such activities as songs, games, story-telling, and displays in English" (Hayes, 2006. 146). The features such as the provision of support and follow up, the relevance of the programme to what students learn, and the availability of support centres resulted in the improvement of teachers' teaching behaviour and student learning.
The materials were put into practice after being tried in the RESCs and revised based on peer feedback from teachers who attended the first courses. An interesting thing in PELP is that it takes into account "the micro realities of teachers' working lives" (p.147). the distinctive features of PELP are that it monitored the impact of its activities at the classroom level, which indicated the teachers who attended the programme exhibited more activity based and child centred than those who did not attend the programme. RESCs gather data from classroom observation and assessment of children's competence and confidence using standardized instruments developed with outside consultancy support.
A training programme for primary English teachers in South Korea focused on the raising of teachers' awareness of the effectiveness of elementary English education, improving teachers' communicative English language skills, educating teachers in elementary English curriculum and teaching methodology (i.e. communicative methodology) (Park, 2006). The duration of the programme was 120 hours hours (which is divided into 84 hours oc communicative competency, 34 hours of teaching methodology, and 2 class hours devoted to other unspecified curriculum items). This programme helped teachers improve their knowledge of primary school English language education and its teaching. The programme's success lies in its relevance to what do teachers' really practice (its focus on helping teachers understand the elementary English curriculum and help them develop proper teaching methods of English to young learners, to improve teachers; ability to use English as a medium of instruction, and to help them be able to teach communicative language skills).
Another professional development programme is a programme developed to enable the effective teaching and learning of English in Hong Kong (Sachs and Mahan, 2006). The programme is called English Reading Project (PERP), formed in 1994). The programme adopted five stages to support teachers in their professional development: offering teacher development workshops across and within school; providing necessary resources; assess, report, and discuss pupils' progress; conduct school visits; and produce a newsletter. The project had brought impact on teaching practices and student achievement/performance in English. It is indicated that positive changes in participants' knowledge, beliefs, and instructional practices have been observed.
Jager, Reezigt, and Creemers (2002) give the result of in-service training programme for the eight English language teachers on 'reading comprehension in primary schools'. They were trained to apply the principles of cognitive theory and other five teachers were trained to apply the model of 'direct instruction' in reading skills where teachers both in experimental groups received teaching guides (the adaptation of the curriculum for reading comprehension they already used). The control group of seven teachers used the same curriculum, but did not receive any teaching guide or training. The study showed that the teachers who were in the experimental group successfully changed their behaviour even if they could not succeed in implementing all characteristics of the instructional model aimed at.
Besides the studies reviewed earlier, studies on teacher learning on primary schools in other fields are also available. These studies prove that professional development features determine the impacts of the programmes.
Garet et al (2001) found that professional development which focuses on the content teachers teach, how to teach that content, and aligned with the curriculum and local policies are represented by teachers to have a greater sense of efficacy. The study also shown that teachers who had 80 or more hours of science-related professional development programmes result in change in teachers' practices and student learning. This indicates that professional development is more likely to be viewed by teachers as effective if it is sustained over time and offers substantial contact hours, allowing more opportunities to engage in active learning, enable meaningful collaboration and focus on content, all of which enhance the acquisition of knowledge andskills.
A 3-year longitudinal study conducted by Desimone et al (2002) also indicated that professional development that was focused on specific teaching practices increased teachers' use of those practices in the classroom. Luft, Roehrig, and Patterson ((2003) cited in Wei and colleagues (2009) found the programmes that focused on subject-specific pedagogy were better able to support teachers' learning of curriculum standards than these with general pedagogy as the focus. These studies are against the generic approaches to teacher development.
Ross, Bruce, and Hogaboam-Gra (2006) conducted a study to examine the effect of professional development programmes on student achievement. School teachers in one school districtwere randomly assigned to early or late professional development group. After the completion of the study, the external ssignments administered by the province showed a significant increase in student achievement from one year to the next involving both the early and late treatment groups, an increase that was not found for the same students in other subjects.
In a study of teachers eho participated in Ohio's State wide Systematic Initiative in science and mathematics, Supovitz, Mayer, and Kahle (2000) found that highly intensive (60hrs), inquiry-based professional development changed teachers' attitudes towards reform, their preparation to use reform-based practices, and their use of inquiry-based teaching practices. The researchers also indicated that these changes persisted several years after teachers concluded their experience.
In sum, despite a paucity of research in the area of language teacher development in schools, the available research findings reveal the same result as the research in other areas. Therefore, it is possible to observe from the review of the studies made so far that teacher development programmes, irrespective of the subject matter (the majority of studies on mathematics and science), have found to have significant impact on teacher practices and student learning. It is realized that professional development should improve teachers' knowledge of the subject matter that they teach, and it should enhance their understanding of student thinking in that subject matter.
Aligning substantive training with the curriculum and teachers' actual work experiences is also vital (Porter et al, 2000; Garet et al, 1999); Loucks-Horsley et al., 1998; Yeh, 2005; Research Points, 2005; Craig, Kraft, and de Plessis, 1998; Saxe, Gearheart, and Nasir, 2001). From the studies, it is observed that professional development on English language teaching should focus on language subject to the specific curricula teachers are teaching; it should allow teachers to analyze student understanding of English; and should have established system of evaluating the impact of the programme on teacher practices and student learning. Moreover, it should be relevant to the English that is taught to the learners.