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TWO PRINCIPLES TO ENCOURAGE NOVICE TEACHERS TO BECOME PROFESSIONALS

Пятница 20 Ноябрь 2015

Профессионализм — это нечто большее, чем просто знать свой предмет. Выпускникам педагогических институтов необходимо постоянно пополнять багаж знаний, повышать общую и профессиональную культуры, развивать творческий потенциал, чтобы стать хорошими специалистами. Школьные учителя, занятые люди, с плотным графиком, ответственные за учеников, погруженные в рутину повседневных дней, беспрекословно выполняющие обязанности, диктуемые высокими требованиями к преподаванию. Им часто трудно найти время и возможность для развития профессионального роста, работать с энтузиазмом, творчески. Статья предлагает некоторые пути решения указанной проблемы.

Professionalism is something more than just knowing your subject cold. Graduates from the pedagogical institute should fill up, expand, constantly specify luggage of knowledge, raise their general and professional culture, and develop the creative potential to become good specialists. School teachers are busy people with tight schedules, responsibilities for many pupils, settlement into a routine, unquestioning acceptance of their day-to-day procedures, high requirements to teaching. They often find it difficult to find the time and ways to grow professionally, to become mature, creative, and enthusiastic. The article offers some ways to solve the mentioned problem.

настроение: целеустремленное

ключевые слова: young teachers, “WEness”, “Enquiry”, team-teaching, mentors, Plan-Do-Review model, self-learning, self–assessment

город: Радужный, Тюменская область

e-mail: school8kmao@mail.ru

“And will you succeed?
Yes indeed, yes indeed!
Ninety-eight and three quarters
percent guaranteed”
Dr. Seuss

Our secondary school welcomed a group of new teachers a few years ago. It was an opportunity for the school staff to gain experience in preparing those teachers for their work. Furthermore, no one can deny the fact that there is a transitive period when one generation of teachers is being gradually retired and another one is coming to replace them. Thus, the issue of preparing novice teachers is of a great importance nowadays. The proposals of the article do not offer any particular program; they are likely to introduce a concept of how new teachers can be motivated to work efficiently.

When newcomers start their job in our school, they are advised to follow two main principles in their work. These principles are “we-ness” and enquiry.

The word “we-ness” comes from “we”. All of us who know English, who speak English, who teach English professionally — what can we effectively do together? The answer is “to teach”. The “we-ness” leads to the following forms of both personal and professional development: mentor’s aid, observation of skilled teachers’ lessons, seminars, trainings, workshops; intervention teams, teams engaged in professional learning with their colleagues; staff meetings, teacher development or discussion groups, school and town units of the teachers of English, teachers’ associations. These are the forms that imply the process of interaction and negotiation. New teachers always feel support and care, and there is a regular contact among fellow teacher beginners and mentors. “We-ness” denies the fact that teaching profession is a solitary one. No new teacher will complain of feeling isolated following the idea of “we-ness”.

One of the most intensive forms of collaboration, supporting the idea of “we-ness”, is team-teaching. It is a system whereby a group of teachers jointly undertake a program of work with a group of students. Team-teaching may range from two teachers engaging in some kind of loose relationship, such as planning a lesson together, to tighter forms of collaboration, such as team-teaching a series of lessons; from two teachers of the same subject to lessons performed by teachers of related subjects; from traditional team-teaching to online team work. These lessons can bear the following names: a binary lesson, an integrated lesson. The subjects traditionally correlated with English can be: Geography, Mathematics, Biology, Economics, Information Technology, etc. The following themes reflect the character of these lessons: “Colour, Shape, Number”, “Travelling to the Country of Mathematics”, “Computer: It’s the Thing you Need”, “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” , “The Future is Sending SOS” , “Demand and Supply”. The lessons of these types can be delivered beginning from the 2nd year and ending with the 11th year students.

The majority of those who have been involved in team teaching are in favor of this pedagogical practice. They claim, for example, that collaborative relationship:

  • encourage the partners to enter into an endless series of negotiating, listening and exchanging feedback sessions;
  • foster a growth in mutual trust, openness, tolerance and responsibility;
  • make the partners more reflective about their own teaching philosophies;
  • enhance their familiarity with another value system and culture;
  • decrease anxiety, loneliness and teacher burnout;
  • stimulate better concentration.

If team-teaching also involves upfront teaching, there are further benefits to be reaped:

  • periods of intense concentration and relaxation alternate;
  • students learn more effectively at the juncture of different teaching styles;
  • motivation is higher than in the traditional classroom.

It must be admitted, however, that team-teaching is fraught with potential drawbacks.

For example, it is extremely time-consuming and expensive, some teachers do not like to work in close partnership, others refrain from team-teaching, because they feel vulnerable.

Nevertheless, we can’t but stress that team-teaching is a useful form of further education. Its effectiveness results from two factors:

  • The participants’ language proficiency, language awareness and pedagogical skills are enhanced in the process of uncontrived interaction and negotiation;
  • Team-teaching, by its nature, is a prolonged activity in contrast to other forms of in-service training, which typically range from two hours to several weeks in duration.

There is another enjoyable form promoting the idea of “we-ness”.

While organizing workshops for inexperienced teachers it is both of theoretical and practical value to use innovative methods, up-to-date technologies, internet tools which then they can try out in their classroom activities. Bearing this in mind we offer our new teachers to complete the internet activities by working in a group. The whole event is called “Subject Sampler”. The subject can be different, and it depends on what sample learning teachers are going to be presented to.

Our example is on the subject: “What is it like to be a teacher?”

The activity starts with the introduction which explains the steps to follow. There are links coming from all over the World Wide Web, they represent a variety of aspects related to teaching. The purpose of each Web page is to give participants a sampling of some of the aspects relating to teaching. In addition, each of the activities asks teachers to make a personal commitment to what they like, believe, or feel about a topic. Each link is followed by a couple of questions which help to express opinions on the suggested topic:

What Makes A Great Teacher (http://practicaltheory.org)

  • Which qualities necessary for a teacher does the article mention?
  • Choose three features that you appreciate in teachers most of all?

Quotes:

http://thinkexist.com/quotations/teachers_and_teaching/

http://www.inspirational-quotes.info/teacher-quotes.html

  • Read the quotations and choose two of them which you think reflect the essence of teaching best of all?
  • Choose the quotation with which you cannot agree.

History of education (http://en.wikipedia.org/wik/History_of_education)

  • What were the main stages in development of education?
  • Are you happy with the way you teach at school nowadays?

Poems:

http://festivals.iloveindia.com/teachers-day/poems/funny-teacher-poem.html

http://festivalsloveindia.com/teachers-day/poems/best-teacher-poem.html

  • Read the poems about teachers and choose the one you like best.
  • What do you feel when you are in a lesson?

After having studied some aspects of teaching, trainees are offered to decide in their group what it is like to be a teacher.

“Enquiry” is another starting point for personal and professional development, as it encourages new teachers to reflect on their practice by reviewing their experience in a systematic way which can lead to potential change and development; this in turn can empower the teachers and lead to more effective teaching and job satisfaction.

There are two phrases which are quite commonly used by teachers, as if they were in some way conclusive. One of them is: “It works”. The reaction to this ought always to be: “Why?” The fact that something works is no more interesting than the fact that something does not work. What teachers need to do in both cases is to enquire about the conditions for success or failure, and to make them as explicit as possible so that they can be tested by other teachers in different teaching situations. The phrase “it works” should mark the beginning of the enquiry, not its conclusion. A general strategy to use in order to achieve your goals, either language or skills and techniques related, is to develop your self-awareness, in other words, to learn to judge your own language skills and teaching critically. This can be done through regular self-assessment and introspection. This involves planning what you are going to do, carrying out your plans and evaluating and reviewing your performance by applying the Plan–Do–Review model.

This model consists of three stages; they are usually referred to as pre-, while- and post-. These stages also provide a framework in which teachers can incorporate opportunities for themselves to plan, do and review through reflection, experimentation and further reflection thereby representing the on-going cyclical nature of learning as follows: you think what you already know and what you need to do to plan and prepare, then experiment: you do, develop, create, practise and after that you engage in further reflection to review and assess what has been done. This knowledge will enable you to identify your strong and weak points in order to make plans for your future development and self-improvement by identifying what you need to work on next. The results of your self-assessment can also help you decide whether what you are doing is effective for you.

“Enquiry” opens the door to the following kinds of activities: on-line learning, which can include distance courses, webinars, communication on teacher professional sites, social networking with apps, online tests, internet olympiads for teachers, contacting publishers via email, and all year round activities performed by every teacher such as open lessons, extracurricular activities, professional contests, social projects, portfolios as well as various competitions for pupils: supervision of pupils’ research works, olympiads. These are all the activities which will allow novices to demonstrate their own teaching style, their independence in teaching, and confidence.

In that sense we think that to start blogging is of a great use for teachers. First of all, blogging architecture became more simplified and beyond doubts, it doesn’t take much time and efforts for recent graduates from pedagogical institutes to start blogging. Secondly, bloggers can not only produce content to post on their online diaries, but they can also combine them with texts, images, make their own design, and express their individual style. Thirdly, a blog is informal, and a novice teacher can honestly and openly express his views, raise the issues he worries about, describe any insights he has gained. Moreover, a blog is interactive and international; allowing visitors all over the world to leave comments and even message each other via GUI widgets on the blogs, and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites.

In other words, a new teacher has an opportunity to express, consider, research, create, share, and enquire. Finally, as there are other blogs developed nowadays: those of a small group, “multi-author blogs” (MABs), with posts written by large numbers of authors and professionally edited, from newspapers, other media outlets, universities, and microblogging systems, edublogs created for educational purposes by classes, schools; they are also recommended to be explored by teachers. Edublogs are supposed to archive and support teacher learning by facilitating reflection, questioning by self and others, collaboration and by providing contexts for engaging in higher-order thinking, they are able to add a lot to further teachers’ development and growth. These sites (www.bbc.co.uk, nikpeachey.blogspot.co.uk, myenglishpages.com/blog/, www.priceless-teaching-strategies.com, www.englishteachers.ru/community blog list/, www.teachingenglish.org.uk/blogs, edublogs.org/why-edublogs/) are of great value; they can guide, advise, support and instruct. Microblogging systems, multi-author blogs, edublogs provide the realization of both principles “we-ness” and “enquiry”.

These principles do not have any fixed borders, they are flexible, penetrating, intervening. They symbolize two main ideas:

  • the development of professional competence under the supervision of experienced teachers, mentors, colleagues, professionals through a variety of activities is preventing new teachers from feeling lonely;
  • self-learning, self-assessment which permit newcomers to start doing something on their own.

In conclusion, beginning educators are supposed to be in the constant self-process of acquiring new skills with the specialists at hand who are always ready to support, encourage, motivate, and inspire.

The described principles have been practiced for some years in our school and resulted not only in new teachers’ desire to pass the exam for professional suitability but also their willingness to apply for category 1 after one year of teaching. We do not insist that our approach is necessarily the best; the presented ideas are summed up for the sake of sharing and seeking the right solutions.

The principles created and described in this article appeared as a result of both years of experience and thorough studies of the materials of the “Prosveshcheniye Publishers”.

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