PART II: CONSIDERATIONS FOR IN-SERVICE EDUCATION TOMORROW
For in-service education, governments and teachers are turning less often to traditional institutions that educated teachers, both pre-service and in-service teachers. This transition is taking place in part due to the perceived shortcomings of these traditional institutions and in part due to the growing influence of teachers and teachers’ advocates.
The goal of in-service education remains constant--the development of teachers’ performance in teaching and learning. The attitudes toward teacher in-service are changing along with the means. In many places, teachers are discovering or developing better means than the old ways in the old institutions. This section lays out possible new directions for teacher development–suggesting that in some places and in some ways, the future is here now. Grant (1997) offers two fundamental assertions about future teacher in-service education –
Collaboration with Teachers
The question persists about who should plan and provide in-service education for teachers. As a requirement for certification renewal in the United States, teachers were required periodically to take college and university courses. Historically, teachers’ colleges, universities, and school systems have "delivered" in-service programs to teachers. Often such programs were mandated by government and paid for through government programs. Few in-service programs have been initiated by teachers and delivered by them. It is most revealing that teachers rarely control, or have significant influence upon their inservice education. (Rubin, 1964)
Interestingly, the use of a team of teacher-selected teacher communicators to cooperate in in-service planning has proven successful, as long as the teachers rotate on and off the communication team regularly. The establishment of teacher-controlled Teacher Education Centers in the United States held great promise, and still does, but very frequently TECs run into conflicts between teacher unions and school authorities, as well as facing opposition from school administrators and funding authorities. School officials quite often have different interests and obligations than teachers when it comes to curriculum mandates, political demands, and budget allocations. This institutional tension continues to inhibit sustained commitments to teacher-led in-service and even for long-term cooperative programming.
Planners should not, however, overlook the literature on in-service education that emphasizes the importance of cooperation in the identification of needs for in-service, cooperative planning and delivery of programs, participation in their evaluation by classroom teachers, long term planning, and sustained follow-up in the teachers’ school setting. No matter who controls the programming or the financing, these features are the ingredients of successful teacher development. These collaborative features are, alas, absent in most teacher in-service programming. (Childress, 1969).
In-service education is often perceived by school authorities as the means to overcome teacher deficiencies or to install curriculum and procedures mandated by political bodies. While "top down" mandates may create a market for in-service programming, teachers together make a necessary contribution to installing any curriculum through their own critical reflection, knowledge of their subjects, and their practical knowledge acquired over the years by actually teaching. Teachers are "experts" in the nuances of their calling. In collective contexts, teachers make sense of the curriculum and other mandates. Teachers educated in their subjects by rote memorization are, of course, disadvantaged. They are faced with how to teach a subject using methods that they have seldom or never experienced. But together, these teachers can learn to perform their subject to learn its quirks and queries, its applications and modes of interpretations. Teacher-leaders know the distinction between knowing one’s subject and being competent in teaching that subject (Gage, 1965).
Another reason for working collaboratively with competent teachers is that these teachers know that students live in a context –within time and social webs. While the curriculum is established by educational authorities and "subject matter experts," the teacher must promote learning within their students’ context. Good teachers know their students well. They use this knowledge when making decisions about teaching and learning methods, materials, and classroom assessment. More important, these teachers can connect the government’s curriculum to the learners’ lived experience in all its richness and variety. Students see that what they are learning helps them make meaning of their lives, that what they know and have experienced is valuable, and that they are learning is valued by significant adults.
In the United States, schools and universities have established partnerships for on-going, mutual staff development. They recognize the important of collaboration with teachers and the value of teachers’ expertise. Perhaps more important are Professional Development Schools (PDS) where veteran and novice teachers work together. The elders mentor the younger. In Indonesia, the PKG in-service education model has features of such collaboration. For example, outstanding geographers and geographic educators are brought together to educate well-selected, experienced teachers from across the Republic. Following study, these teachers return to their provinces and teach and conduct in-service education under the supervision of the national cadre. After a second cycle of training, the teachers become leaders in on-service teacher education in their provinces and localities, training other teachers and supervising their work with classroom colleagues. What is missing is the continuing contact of university-based educators after the initial two cycles of training.
In the future, university scholar-teacher contact may be maintained by distance education. A new PPPG in Bandung, Central Java, based upon distance education strategies, may be an additional component to strengthen the PKG model. PKG instructors and trainees might have continuing interaction with content experts at a university, regularly receiving content-centered materials to develop their knowledge base, while the teachers could submit written lessons or videotapes of their teaching for review by geographers or other experienced teachers. Soon, teachers will be able to discuss their classroom work with one another via e-mail and Internet connections.
Collaboration Among Teachers: Mentoring
The Indonesian sanggar is an innovative model of teacher mentoring as in-service education. In Bahasa Indonesian, sangga means "support." Sanggar means "studio, or workshop."
Staff development researchers would find the Indonesian sanggar interesting. Contemporary researchers are attracted to teacher deliberative opportunities where discussions deal with research findings, practical knowledge from teaching experience, and possible approaches to teaching this topic or that within a given context. These concerns are the essence of the sanggar experience. Other researchers (Floden 1985) are less interested in teacher deliberation to find a "right" way to teach a specific topic, but rather to deliberate about the goals of education, beliefs about learning, and the meaning of schooling in their students’ lives. The teachers would assist one another in reflection upon such seemingly esoteric themes. The usefulness, researchers think, in these deliberations is to be found in the social affiliation and the intellectual opportunities to think and grow at a different level than daily teaching permits. The teachers are seen as learners.
Programs that engaged experienced teachers in mentoring beginning teachers proved successful in most instances. Successful mentoring programs provided specific training in mentoring for the experienced teachers and allowed time for these mentors to interact regularly and consult together to solve specific problems. Successful programs also gave the mentors lighter-than-normal teaching loads to allow time for mentoring. But, due to these costs and despite their successes, few mentoring programs that required added costs have enjoyed a long life. (Childress, l969)
Sheeler (1996) reports on her experiences with mentors in teaching. Her conception is "one on one," one mentor to a new instructor or an experienced teacher who is in need of assistance. She specifies five areas of desired assistance: l) teaching style assessment and development, 2) teaching strategies and resource selection assistance, 3) classroom management methods, 4) professional time management, and 5) how to deal with parents and the community.
Using the name "collegial coaching," instead of mentoring, McInturff (1997) describes a program of mutual support, materials sharing, and collaboration on improving teaching. Working in pairs, the teachers learn observational techniques, mediation skills, and non-judgmental feedback processes. Then, they develop an action plan for their collaboration in classrooms, observing, suggesting, trying out, and sharing lesson ideas.
The idea of a teacher-produced Personal Development Plan, similar to McInturff’s "action plan," is a device with popular appeal among staff development directors and teachers. Written by individuals, not dyads or larger teams, the plan can take a variety of forms, but most often it is career development in its focus –-goals and needs are identified, with a sequential series of steps to be taken to fulfill needs and achieve goals. Taken together, teachers’ Personal Development Plans indicate the kinds of in-service programming required (Taylor and Edge, 1997).
Sherry and Lawyer-Brook (l997) reported on the successful Boulder (CO) Valley Internet Project which was a joint venture with 53 schools and a university. The core of this project was teacher mentoring of other teachers, as invited, on the appropriate and effective use of technology in teaching. Sherry and Lawyer-Brook report a slow and fretful progress that continues to build a solid base of expertise. It is in the area of instructional technology, that teacher mentoring in the United States had made the greatest advances and acceptance.
The power of such peer support to impact classroom behaviors has been known for a long time. Lawrence (1974) and Lawrence and Branch (1978) argued for the maximization of peer support in in-service teacher education. Their work engaged peer panels--a group of three to five teachers who give each other assistance and support, mainly in improving each member's teaching. Members of the group choose each other. There are no superordinate-subordinate relationships. What is discussed is private to its members, accept as agreed by all members. Members avoid evaluating members in the usual way, instead they provide and receive observational feedback. The group sets its own agenda and does so openly to all members.
Mentoring has been discovered and rediscovered again and again as a component of successful teacher development. Costa and Kallick (l993) suggest a "critical friend"-style mentor. In twenty-minute conferences, the mentor provides feedback as requested on a performance. 1) The teacher describes a practice and requests feedback. 2) The critical friend asks questions to clarify the practice and the context.3) The learner sets the goals for the conference --"This is why I'm asking you." 4) Then, the critical friend provides feedback about what seems significant about the practice. 5) The critical friend then raises questions and critiques the work from his or her perspective, then 6) both participants reflect and write--the learner writes notes on the conference, and the friend writes to the learner with specific suggestions.
The Educational Testing Service (1992) developed a "Strategies for Teaching Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum" program which employs some of these mentoring principles. First, a small number of persons (teachers and administrators) are selected for training as in-house experts in critical thinking skill development. Together, they study selected thinking skills—classification, concept development, representing related concepts, identifying patterns and relationships, formulating and testing hypotheses, and constructing meaning. Second, following this active training, the team returns to its school (grades 7 to 12) where it gains several months of experience applying what members learned. The team interacts and members mentor one another in learning to best teach the skills. Third, the team returns for training on training skills, mentoring skills, and the principles of adult learning. Finally, the team returns to the school, resuming teaching critical thinking skills to secondary school students and assisting other teachers in the school on their application of these skills across the curriculum. ETS reports considerable acceptance and success of this style of teacher development.
Teachers supporting and coaching colleagues is a proven idea. Increasingly, formal in-service education will be directed toward training able teachers in mentoring and coaching skills (see Wineburg, 1997).
Teacher Networking and Networks of Teachers
The need for in-service education and dissatisfaction with traditional programming makes teacher networks increasingly popular. Veugelers and Zijlstra (1998) report on the development of Upper Secondary Education networks in the Netherlands in which seventy percent of the 450 eligible secondary schools participate. The University of Amsterdam and twenty secondary schools form one network that stresses collaborative action research to address real teacher concerns. This network is a local arrangement permitted by national policy. In the United States, Professional Development Schools often use the network concept to focus the resources in a community upon the professional development of its teachers.
Hillkirk et al (1997) report on a consortium formed by rural schools in 1991 in southeastern Ohio, the Appalachian region of the state. In concert with State policy-makers, the consortium engages teachers in marshalling resources from local and regional institutions for programming to develop teachers’ competence. The consortium elected to focus upon local expertise development over bringing in outside experts and instructional programs.
Driscoll (1997) reminds us of another network possibility with increasing appeal –training on the Internet. Programming may be global or designed for mini-communities of teachers in a school or school department. She describes text-only programming (e-mail, bulletin boards, software down loading) and four types of World Wide Web multimedia opportunities. Teacher-oriented networks of all kinds can use the Internet and Web as a main or supplementary delivery and communication system. It is hard to describe or quantify the dramatic growth of teacher-directed digital networks and the exchange of ideas and materials supporting teachers’ development. The ideas, materials, and skills of the teacher workshop or summer institute are now available anytime over the Internet or by way of e-mail with nearby or distant colleagues in teaching. Teacher development is global, for those with access.
The grandest of all North American teacher networks is the National Writing Project, now in its 25th year. Beginning in San Francisco as the "Bay Area Writing Project," it is the largest teacher in-service training project and arguably the most successful. The Project has 160 sites in 45 states and Puerto Rico. It has served over two million teachers, has 13,651 active experienced teacher-leaders, and serves at least 130,000 teachers each year in summer programs with follow-up interaction.. In the project, expert teachers are seen as the best teachers of other teachers (Goldberg, 1998).
These staff development endeavors reflect the growing interest in networks in which teachers come together to address tough problems of teaching as well as new mandates by exchange among the members. Pennell and Firestone (1998) examined two network systems in two states of the United States [Vermont and California]. The network programs are conducted in two general ways – a) "Delivered Programs" and b) "Constructed Programs." Delivered programs feature skilled teachers and teacher educators who facilitate learning and model appropriate instructional practices, and are usually directed to less experienced and less able teachers in new forms of teaching and learning. Delivered programs involve instruction. Most instruction is from successful teachers who offer classroom-tested practices and on-going follow-up mentoring and support. Constructed programs involve participants sharing their own ideas. Generally, more experienced and able teachers come together and develop and conduct the in-service program. The participants are successful teachers. The National Writing Project is an example of a "Constructed Program." Among the many advantages of these teacher-directed in-service programs are a) the opportunities for teachers to develop leadership skills, and b) the relatively low-cost (or "cost-effectiveness") of these programs (Lieberman and McLaughlin, 1992)
At this point in time, teacher controlled and teacher-directed programming, either on-line or in face-to-face settings, are available. School authorities should facilitate the enhancement of such programs, signaling the acceptance of these new empowering opportunities.
TEACHERS AS LEARNERS IN SCHOOLS
"We shall fail to improve schooling for children until we acknowledge the importance of schools, not only as places for teachers to work but also as places for teachers to learn" (Smylie, 1995, p.92).
Citing the inseparability of teaching and learning, Wineburg and Grossman (1998) concur with Smylie. They argue that teaching atrophies without learning, and that schools cannot become exciting places for children and youth to learn without first becoming exciting places for adults to learn. They describe a three-year project in which teachers come together one day per month to read and to discuss literary works. The monthly meetings are supplemented by after school meetings each week and a five-day retreat in the summer. The in-service program is modeled after book clubs that meet regularly with members conducting discussions of books read in common. The books are read in common, but the perspectives are diverse. Teachers from literature, history, and social science approach texts differently, have different ideas on teaching and learning, and have different ways to use the text to draw students’ personal experience into teaching. Discussions of texts were soon complemented by video clips of teacher-participants using texts with their students. The group spawned a "video-club" were teachers shared videos of their teaching with colleagues, inviting comment (also see Wineburg, 1997).
The work of Smylie, Wineburg and Grossman remind us that ultimately teachers are responsible for their own professional development and are aided if their professional image includes the desire to learn. The obligation of school leaders is to facilitate such self-directed or group learning, as in-service education. School leaders, administrators and teachers, can arrange an array of networks, book clubs, consortia, and programs to engage all staff in the school community. Darling-Hammond and McLaughlin (1996) envision this as an infrastructure or a web of professional development activities that provide ongoing occasions for sharing, learning, and critical reflection (also, see Mathison and Ross, 1992)
No perfect, one-size-fits-all in-service education program exists or will be discovered. The obligation of teachers and governments to develop a web of opportunities is the best conclusion to be drawn regarding the future of teacher development. The future does not bode well for traditional in-service institutions (such as the PPPG IPS dan PMP) and programming unless leaders and programmers recognize the teachers’ place in conducting, indeed controlling, professional development programming meant for those teachers. Teachers now have alternatives to traditional in-service institutions, and the future will only bring more opportunities.
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