Here we are sharing some ideas for self improvement. In Pakistan Teachers are born in college classrooms (GCETs, etc), but teachers are developed in school’s classrooms after years of experience.
All teachers will need time to adjust to the role of learner that will be some real-life experiential. We will always have regional expectations that are not in line with a national definition/standard though because of the province having such wide latitude in most official, public college systems. From whom we expect the answer for education.
This cannot be top-down it has to be bottom-up. Teachers need to see this as the value they can add to their own practice. Instead of dividing teachers by too old/young enough to learn/teach differently, we ought to group them by willing to invest in our profession or not willing. I think some outside observers would be interested in those self-selected
The term Life Long Learning has been bandied about by educators for years. It is a term that has worked its way into Mission Statements of schools across our nation. It is a term that teachers use with their students. It has become a goal that every teacher strives to put in place for students. It is also a goal that many (not all) teachers, for the most part, do not apply to themselves.
I sometimes think that our culture, demanding that teachers be content experts, is a hindrance to education reform. There is an implication that an expert is supposed to know it all. That position may limit a willingness to learn. How can a teacher be the expert, if he/she has more to learn? Even if one was an expert in some content area and at one point knew all that there was to know about a given subject, there is still always more information being developed. With the advancement of technology this is happening faster, and in more volume than ever before. Content experts remained experts longer in the 1800’s. It took years to question their expertise. Change was slow.
A teacher’s response to this might be one of disbelief. Teachers may not admit to this in public. However, if we consider teachers’ responses to suggestions of Professional Development (PD), their actions belie their rhetoric. Many are resistant to Professional Development. In fairness, not all PD is worthy of consideration. It is not always well thought out or well presented. However that is not an excuse to resist all PD. The fact of the matter is that it is a big point of contention among many educators.
Colleges are being blamed for not producing enough great teachers. Not enough content experts. That is simply ridiculous. Colleges need to educate students in their content area as well as philosophy and methods in education. They are required to make students content experts in their content area and in education in four years. Teachers are born in the college classrooms, but they develop, mature and become great teachers in the schools in which they teach. This only occurs with support and leadership from their educational leaders. It requires continuous learning over the lifetime of a career. It requires teachers and their leaders to be Life Long Learners.
This all adds to a predicament in which teachers have placed themselves. Senior teachers are being vilified more than any other group of teachers being vilified by the critics of education. They are being portrayed as unwilling to learn or change. They are being pitted against the younger more energetic teachers who appear willing to learn and change. The senior teachers are victims of the culture of education. They are the experts as they were expected to be. They believe this themselves. They have attained their lifelong goal, therefore, they believe that there is no need to learn any more, or to change the “tried and true”. They have achieved expertise status as required by the system.
The culture cultivated this attitude, but now finds it unproductive and in need of change. It is the perfect excuse for educational leaders and politicians to use to eliminate what they see as an easy way to cut the budget. The most experienced teachers are the most expensive. Eliminating senior teachers is about money and budgets, and not better education. It requires eliminating fewer senior teachers to get the most Bang for the Buck. It doesn’t consider experience and stability of the school. It doesn’t consider loyalty and the very expertise it demanded. It’s all about the money
If we are to have better education system we need teachers to be better learners. For that to happen we need better leaders, who also need to be better learners. Life Long Learning is essential for all involved in education not just the kids. If we were serious about education reform we need to work on educating the educators in earnest. We can get very, very few great teachers from college classrooms. We can get teachers with great potential, but that potential must be nurtured and taught on an ongoing basis. It is the school’s leadership and culture that will enable a teacher to be great. It will be the commitment and support of the school leadership to professional development and Life Long Learning that will move us to where we need to be in education reform. That may only happen one school at a time. It might happen sooner if the idea of social learning ever takes hold in education. The Irony obvious to me is that Educators are for everyone being Life Long Learners as long as it doesn’t affect them. (No, that does not mean you, but many of the other educators.)
Seems to me that in order to be a lifelong learner, we need to find a way to become one of our own leaders.
Yes, we need mentors, but it really helps if we become a mentor for others, too.
Lifelong leaders pay forward what they’ve been given.
I have often said that it takes a minimum of 3 years teaching in the same school and teaching the same subject to become a good teacher. Good, not necessarily great. The second year we make changes/improve. The third year we fine tune those changes. So, similarly to the comments about lawyers honing their skills, teachers need to hone their skills.
And, I would go so far that we should never stop honing our skills. Too often I am chided by my fellow teachers for being that guy with all of the “suggested links” or “great apps.” There is no malice suggested by these remarks. It really is just good-natured jabbing but it represents the fact that most teachers I know do NOT do self improvement after hours or on the weekend. They “have a life.” When you add PD that is really poorly presented or is on topics that are not interesting or meaningful than teachers turn off during the one time when they could be adding tools to their tool box (during working hours!). Not sure how to fix this but I intend to never give up trying how to make it better.
Please share your comments in the light of your experience in Pakistani environment….