Professional Development of Mathematics Teachers

Posted on : 11 April 2020
Views : 1174

Keywords: Professional Development, Challenges, skills promoting factors, mentor teachers, instructional coaches miniature Society;

Background of the study:

Education is the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school, college or university. It’s a dynamic process and it includes a teaching-learning process which must be coherent with the dynamism of education. An educator or a teacher is a person who helps pupils to acquire knowledge, competence and skills. Generally, people have generalizations that teachers create lesson plans, teach to their students, prepare tests for them and upgrade them. The modern society has accepted that education is a fundamental human right. Education has got equal priority as food, cloth, shelter and health from most of the nations of the world. So, a teacher’s professional development is essential for the improvement of the level of education. In education, the term ‘professional development’ may be used in reference to a wide variety of specialized training, formal education or advanced professional learning intended to help administrations, teachers and other educators improve their professional knowledge, competence, skill and effectiveness. Indeed, the professional development of the teachers can promote the levels of students of achievements.

Review of the literature:

Professional development, in a broad sense, refers to the development of a person in his/her professional role. More specifically, teacher development is professional growth. Gimire S.P (2009) writes that “The professional development of teachers is a lifelong process which begins with the initial preparation that teachers receive (whether at an institute of teacher education or actually on the job) and continues until retirement……..”

Several classical educational writers stressed the importance of the personality and the moral qualities of teachers. (See castle, 1970, for an excellent overview). Modern philosophers of education like O.F. Bollnow (Ballonwo. 1987) and Max Van Manen (Van Manen, 1991) also viewed education as dependent on the qualities of the personal relationship between teacher and children. Several movies also have portrayed teachers with extraordinary personal qualities.

Also, educational research has been interested in identifying the most important personal characteristics. During the first decades of the 20th century, research focused on intelligence as the most important personal characteristics. Later focus shifted to personality traits. Many research projects were undertaken to identify the personality traits of effective teachers. Today most researchers seem to agree that the relevant personal characteristics concern the knowledge or competence of the teacher.

The objective of the study

The objective of this study is to

  1. Search the teachers’ challenges in professional development;
  2. Find out the skills of professional teachers and
  • Explore the promoting factors for the professional development of teachers.

Challenges of professional Teachers:

-Teachers as Decision Makers:

One of the challenges of a Professional teacher is ‘decision making’. Any teaching act is the result of a decision whether conscious or unconscious. Some of the researchers believed that the teachers are “dilemma managers” who are supposed to be making choices and decision during every aspect of the teaching-learning process. Actually, the teacher is the first and foremost decision-maker who must make the decision consciously and nationally.

Teachers as Problem Solvers:

To be able to respond to all of the professional holds, teachers are required to have a wide range of competencies. Several experts claim that problem solving is the key feature in the profession. Teachers must be prepared to handle unanticipated situations, to adapt current knowledge to deal with new problems, to learn radically new problems, to deal constructively with change (Silverman & Welty, 1990:95) According to many researchers, teachers solve problems not only during the interactive classroom teaching phase but also when they evaluate the previous lesson and plan for the next.

-Creation of own identity and socialization process for new teachers:

The development of professional identity is a dynamically changing process influenced by personal identity, job features and work. One of the difficulties of novice teachers can include the tension between the fitting or the socialization process into the school culture and the rebuilding process of their own professional identity (see Staton & Hunt, 1992; see them, 2007). Classroom management and discipline are the leading difficulties for the news and inexperienced teachers.

  • Challenges for continuous professional development for the experienced teacher:

Experienced teacher has more years of working experience and they have a significant level of self-regulatory, content knowledge and problem-solving skills. This depends on the stage that they are at whether it is competent, proficient or the expert level. Though teachers life-cycle includes more challenges such as professional identity crisis or career frustration. One of the challenges of experienced teachers is how to keep fresh and ready for the changes. To be a life-long learner in a conscious way, it requires continuous professional development.

Skills  of Professional Teachers:

A professional teacher should have the following skills and requirements:

Communication skills: Teacher must be able to communicate clearly and fluently to students, other teachers, parents and administration officials.

Instructional skills: A good teacher should have command in subject matter and should explain and make clear about new concepts and unfamiliar ideas. The teacher must work to keep the student's attention.

Writing Skills: Teacher should have very nice handwriting and attractive presentation while writing. Necessary rough and calculations, especially in maths, should be shown.

Patience: A school is a miniature society. Teachers should work tactfully with students from different backgrounds. The teacher who can treats students psychologically will be a successful teacher. Hence patience is one of the important assets of teachers so that he/she can address the problems of the students.

Promoting factors for the professional development of the teacher:

The following may be a representative selection of common professional development topics and objectives for educators:

  • Furthering education and knowledge in a teacher’s subject area eg. Learning new scientific and psychological theories, expanding knowledge of different historical periods or learning how to teach subject-area content and concepts more effectively.
  • Training or mentoring in specialized teaching techniques that can be used in many different subject areas.
  • Developing technical quantitative and analytical skills that can be used to analyse student performance data and then use the finding to make modifications to academic programs and teaching techniques.
  • Learning new technological skills, such as how to use interactive whiteboards (smartboard), course management system in ways that can improve teaching effectiveness and student performance.
  • Improving fundamental teaching techniques such as how to manage a classroom effectively or frame questions in ways that elicit deeper thinking and more substantive answers from students.
  • Working with colleagues, such as in professional learning communities to develop teaching skills collaboratively or create a new interdisciplinary course that is taught by terms of two or more teachers.
  • Developing specialized skills to better teach and support certain populations of students, such as students with learning disabilities or students who are not proficient in the language.
  • Pairing new and beginning teachers with more experienced “mentor teachers” or “instructional coaches who model effective teaching strategies, expose less-experienced teachers to new ideas and skills and provide constructive feedback and professional guidance.
  • Conducting action research to gain a better understanding of what’s working or not working in a school’s academic program and then using the findings to improve educational quality and results.
  • Earning additional formal certifications.
  • Attending degrees, such as a master’s degree or doctorate in education, educational leadership, or a specialized field of education such as literacy or technology.
  • Actually professional educators are on an endless journey where they are always looking for new ideas or teaching strategies, ways to improve their skills or new information that will help their students to succeed.

References:

Cohen, S. (2004). Teachers’ Professional Development and the Elementary Mathematics Classroom. London: Lawrence Associates, Publishers.

Creemers, B. And et. Al (2013). Teacher Professional Development for Improving Quality of Teaching. London: Springer.Hollway, W. And Jefferson, T. (2002) Doing Qualitative Research Differently: Free association, narrative and the interview method (first edition ed. ) London: stage publications.

Journal of Mathematics Education, Vol I, Year 2, (2016). Kathmandu: Council for Mathematics Education.

Upadhyay. H.P. (2007) New trends in Mathematics Education, Kathmandu: Vidhyarthi Prakashan (P) Ltd.


 

Laxmi Sharma

Math Teacher