Teacher professional competency: present-day evaluation within the framework of new social challenges

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №5 - 2013

Authors:
Nabiev Ersain, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
Petrusevich Arkadij, State Pedagogical University, Russia

Recently, due to public demand, the system of education both in Kazakhstan and Russia has been undergoing significant changes. But whatever the reforms we see in education, finally, they are aimed at the school teacher, their actual performer.

It is the school teacher, who is a key figure in practical realization of any innovations. It is but natural that a teacher has to possess adequate level of competency and professionalism in order to succeed in implementation of various innovations in the epoch of social transformations.

Education science and practice treat teacher professional competency as a specific ability to effectively and in a good manner perform complicated activities in various environments. Teacher competency is defined by means of the notion of “pedagogical excellence” which can be considered firstly, as an ideal of educational work inspiring teachers to self-improvement, and secondly, as a benchmark containing assessment of the teachers’ performance. One of the key criteria for pedagogical excellence in modern education is the teacher’s performance, making itself evident in excellent (100%) academic achievement of the learners and their sincere interest in the subject. It means that a teacher is a master of his trade when he manages to teach all his students. In its turn, competency is considered to be a qualitative characteristic of the person’s implementation of the knowledge gained through education, generalized work methods, cognitive and practical skills. It reflects a person’s ability to apply acquired knowledge in an active and creative way for tackling personally and socially significant educational and practical tasks, his success in attainment of vital goals.

Evaluation of competence in teaching requires consideration of the problems of educational process composition. Nowadays, it is what we call conventional and innovative models of education. It is evident that the character of teacher competence assessment will differ in these two models. In the context of the conventional model of education, the teacher brings his subject to schoolchildren. He does not go to his subject together with learners, but takes his subject to them. It means that his major task is to find most efficient ways of presenting new material and related visual aids. In this case, the teacher pays much attention to translation of the ready textbook knowledge. Then, evaluation of his teaching competence should be closely related to his skills of bringing the studied material home to learners. Accordingly, setting educational goals is related to acquiring definite personal skills by the students.

The goals are usually set in the terms describing these skills: students have to acquire some ideas, information, rules; develop certain habits, skills, etc. Most typical are the following assignments: “insert”, “italicize”, “remember”, “reproduce”, “make a sum following the model”, etc. Such educational process has mostly a reproductive character and results in formation of the reproductive type of the cognitive activity. That is why it is often called “memory school”.

Within the framework of this model, a teacher goes to his class with the primary target to provide new information. The teacher’s expertise will be aimed at narration, explanation, covering the topic, and, finally, at providing necessary knowledge. Yet, it is well known that the teacher’s content knowledge does not necessarily mean the students’ knowledge. In order to transform information into knowledge, the teacher has to make the student do extensive work individually, both in class and at home, to control and rate it. Here, teacher professional competence reveals itself in the methods effectively promoting the abovementioned process.

In this educational context, we see numerous problems. Major problems are as follows: weak communication skills, failure to get a detailed answer from the student, with his own opinion on the issue. The educator goes to students with his ready knowledge and tries to engage them into his activity, to include them in his pattern. This system demonstrates discrepancy between the teacher’s and student’s attitudes. The teacher is oriented at the social mandate; he must cover the total amount of the syllabus.

It has been recently stated that the bulk of children and teenagers tend to read very little, they make numerous mistakes, and while work at the material, have troubles in explanation of the meaning of words and idioms. Some researchers observe that schoolchildren sometimes misunderstand the idea of the studied text; inability to retell the text also presents most serious difficulty. It is common knowledge that these problems underlie low level of progress of many students. The pressure results in lack of initiative on the part of a learners, in their passivity, avoidance any kind of work, general apathy, and finally, in total fading-out of scholastic skills.

We are discussing the conventional education model. It is surprisingly survivable. Many teachers, if not most part of them prefer this model. Why is it still so popular with educators? It is largely due to some of its strong points, namely:

• Organizational definiteness of the educational process;

• Systematic character of education;

• Ideological and emotional impact of the teacher;

• Variety and richness of information, free use of visual aids and educational technologies.

Our conventional system of education resorts to the usual terms like “provide knowledge”, “ensure education”, “to teach tackling a problem”, etc. The fact is that we understand education as a system of rendering some content, a communicator for translating the teacher’s knowledge to his students. Within this process, the teacher effects developing impact on his students.

This model of education implies transfer of a huge amount of knowledge as its foremost objective. The teacher translates information comprehended and differentiated by him, and defines the skills he intends to work out with his students. The responsibility of the learner is to reproduce this ready knowledge in most perfect and accurate way.

What are the requirements to a modern teacher within the framework of his professional competence? The teacher must be well aware of the true portrait of a present-day learner. The position characterizing the student of the middle school represents an “updated version” of the set of features of the elementary school leaver, but in a successive advanced and developed variant.

An example: a child who has finished primary school possesses knowledge of how to learn, is capable of self-organization, whereas a student after completing middle school course, is a learner recognizing the importance of education and self-education for life and activity, capable of implementing his knowledge in practice.

Besides, while at junior school, a child should learn to act on his own accord and be responsible for his behavior before the family and community; at middle school, he should demonstrate social involvement and respect for the law, measure his life against moral values, recognize his responsibilities before the family, community and his homeland.

It goes without saying that some directions and components are added to the portrait of the middle school leaver according to its basic objectives and the learner’s age category. For example: recognizing the value of labor, science and creativity; ability to feel confident in the world of trades, understanding the role of professional activity in life.

Currently, one of the basic components of the teacher competence is his understanding of specifics of continuity and development, realized in requirements to the results of mastering core subjects of the curriculum. This component is considered to be of the utmost importance, a core one.

Why is it so? The answer is as follows: new educational standards have a clearly cut idea of transfer from the principle of acquiring the minimum of educational contents by students to the principle of individual best achievements. Being developed as a response to social need, educational objectives transform into requirements to final results. And finally, upon their specification and operationalization, they are transformed into the planned results.

According to some researchers, implementation of the core message of modern school education is related to profound changes in the teacher’s and learner’s role in the educational process.

The first principle is changing the direction of educational objectives to self-actualization of the student’s personality;

The second principle is altering the educational contents by means of introducing into curriculum practice-oriented tasks, implying examination of information from diverse sources, as well as by means of introducing additional programs;

The third principle is transformation of the teacher-learner interrelations, focusing on organization by the teacher the learners’ individual work; developing the teacher’s readiness to educational process changes;

The fourth principle is transition to new teaching technologies, aimed at applying of information technologies combined with critical thinking technology, project and research technologies presupposing mastering some new professional roles by the teacher, namely, the roles of an organizer, coordinator, advisor or consultant. These roles imply team work of teachers.

The fifth principle is assessment of the learners’ achievements considering both qualitative (academic progress) and quantitative aspects of the educational results (portfolio, skills profile, achievement log).

Methodological foundation of the contemporary educational process is a comprehensive assignment approach. It is this approach which stipulates the position of the teacher in terms of requirements to learning content and teaching effect. A specific characteristic of this process is availability of basic milestones, learning contents, requirements as to the outcome of education in its contents, and no definite assignments and forms of activities for every subject. Teachers themselves should elaborate these tasks based on the guidelines stated in new educational standards. It presupposes that a teacher must do an in-depth analysis of the contents of the comprehensive assignment approach and apply it while developing educational programs.

Let us analyze the core of this approach. From a perspective of modern educational psychology and didactics, the terminal learning objective is not only accumulation of knowledge, but forming activity techniques realized through skills. It can only be realized in the process of teaching. In this case, it is worth referring to the assignment approach.

Comprehensive assignment approach is based on psychological concepts of activity structure and deals with the process of active knowledge assimilation and forming skills through motivated and purposeful solving of training tasks. This method means such an organization of activity oriented at the students’ needs by the teacher, that it could trigger their positive emotions of satisfaction and joy. If these feelings have a long-lasting character, students begin to long for this activity bringing pleasant positive emotions. Thus, a new continuous reason for participation in a specified kind of activity appears, complementing general motivation of schoolchildren. With that, handling a specific problem by a student represents a search for a necessary action to transform the problem’s conditions, so that the decision becomes possible. The determining and organizing factor in the comprehensive assignment approach is activity and its forms.

Pursuing the objective of new educational effects, the teacher should bear in mind that it is possible only due to application of innovative contents and types of learning activities. Accordingly, the teacher competency is realized through his ability to select a proper method of instruction, as well as through elaboration of the teacher’s and students’ activity program in compliance with the set goals.

Modern requirements to the quality of education, reflected in regulations, orient the teacher at creating learning situations implying the learners’ inner resources, inclinations, interests, capabilities, etc. This is the learner-centered approach in education. Yet, an in-depth insight into cognitive processes of the learners’ is necessary here.

According to psychology and pedagogy, one of the well-known and significant development mechanisms of a child is the process of interiorization, which means transformation of external actions into internal, cognitive actions, such as thinking, memorizing, and perception. Contemporary psychology distinguishes the following stages of interiorization:

1) An adult affects a child inducing him to do something;

2) A child adopts the method of communication and verbally affects an adult;

3) A child verbally addresses himself.

The ontological aspect of modern education is presented by goal setting and implementation of strategic educational goals. They are as follows: to teach learning, to teach thinking, to teach goal setting and moving in the selected direction, to teach comprehending the effect of learning. In this context, attaining knowledge transforms from the end in itself into the means towards this end.

In this regard, the teacher should be well aware of the process of mastering knowledge by students. While learning, a schoolchild performs certain actions within the context of material studied. Within the process of interiorization, these actions turn into his own interior functions. In other words, learning activity is an exterior condition for development of cognitive processes with students.

Consequently, any acquisition of knowledge is inseparably united with assimilation of new modes of action. In the process of educational process organization, the teacher’s task is to single out relevant actions and to teach them. Then, on the one hand, studying basics of scientific knowledge goes simultaneously with formation of the corresponding intellectual skills, and on the other hand, formation of intellectual skills is impossible without acquisition of specific knowledge.

Learning content has numerous consumers like parents, learners, teachers, higher educational institutions, public, employers, executive and legislative powers, etc. Every consumer wants to see most meaningful for him effect of education and demands that it should be phrased in an available form and language.

Certainly, it is a difficult task to combine needs of so diverse consumers in one document. Indeed, parents of a schoolchild are concerned about the success and prospects provided by education to their child. They do not care if it will be in result of the Ohm’s law study or of some other material.

But when we speak about the teacher, things are different and details of teaching contents, as well as levels of its understanding matter. It is the social concern that the rising generation was provided with adequate education level in order to ensure personal traits relevant to their values. But what specific historical material or literary work will be used for that purpose is the concern of professional methodologists.

In other words, the level of education effect representation should be diverse, judging from the needs and preparation level of various consumers of school education.

Requirements to teaching results are represented in our standards by description of thematic, meta-thematic and personal results and are specified in model basic curricular as planned results in school subjects, results of acquiring basic interdisciplinary programs (the program for development universal learning operations, the program for work with a text, etc.).

Nowadays, educational effect is understood as an “increment” to the personal resources of learners which can be used for tackling vital personal problems.

What is the teacher’s concern in the process of planning his educational activity?, The first point is as follows: personal achievements are the factor of learners’ motivational resources development; the second point is as follows: meta-thematic achievements are the results characterizing mostly instrumental resources; the third point is as follows: results in school subjects reflect mostly cognitive components of educational activity.

It seems that within the framework of the popular in the global educational practice competency building approach, the complex of these results can be treated as key competences.

Accordingly, teaching excellence as a component of professional competency can be assessed in terms of the teacher’s ability to consider and accurately appraise personal, meta-thematic and thematic results. It should be remembered that:

1) Personal results are presented by the developed motives, interests, needs, value system, including attitudes to himself, other people, participants of the educational process, and to the results of education;

2) Meta-thematic results are presented by interdisciplinary knowledge, acquired from several thematic areas and, most important, by universal ways of activity (personal, cognitive, regulatory, and communicative) applicable both in education and in real life environment;

3) Thematic results are expressed in accumulation of concrete elements of the social and professional experience, studied within the framework of particular school subjects;

It is evident, that quality changes in educational content are possible only when the teacher sees clearly the subject-matter and core components of the modern outcome of education. They should be used as a methodological foundation, a conceptual landmark of upgrading and improvement of educational activity of a teacher.

Creation of an innovative educational process orients teachers at expanding and activating independent cognitive activity of students and at developing ability to make a reasonable and responsible choice outside the limits of classroom activity. Accordingly, evaluation of teacher competence is based on the teacher’s ability to develop the educational process, including:

• Module organization of the educative process, which promotes the situations of the choice by the learner of his own set of subjects from the general background courses, majors courses and electives;

• Organization of the project activities for schoolchildren, as well as creative classes and sports events in order to involve them into inventions, acquisition of new information; enabling children to be open and able of expressing their own opinion, to take decisions, to provide a helping hand to others, to define their areas of interest and realize own capabilities, to strive to self-development and self-improvement;

• Elaboration of individual curricular for learners, with consideration of their cognitive interests; providing systematic support for gifted school-children;

• Providing conditions for full participation in educational environment for physically-challenged children; ensuring their socialization;

That is to say, these days, teacher professional competence is examined within the framework of new requirements, current social challenges, innovative school guidelines and regulations, recent achievements of pedagogy, psychology and practice. In an evaluation scheme, highly valued is the teacher’s ability to compose an educational process as an independent travel of a schoolchild in the educational space, where he chooses the route himself and the destination of the route is closely connected with his self-actualization in its uppermost form.

REFERENCES

1. Akulova, O.V.; Pisareva, S.A.; Piskunova, E.V.; Tryapitsyna A.P. Present-day School: the Experience of Modernization: Teacher’a Book. Under the general editorship of Tryapitsyna A.P. Saint Petersburg: Herzen University Press, 2005.

2. State Mandatory Educational Standard for Secondary School (elementary, lower secondary and higher secondary). – Government Decree of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated 08.23.2012, № 1080.

3. Gubanova, E.V. New Educational Standard: Implementation, Monitoring and Appraisal of Results (Practical Aspect): scientific issue / E.V. Gubanova, M., 2012.

4. Lizinsky, V.M. Modernization of School or a New School: teacher resource book / Lizinsky, V. M., М.: “Pedagogichesky Poisk” Center, 2011.



Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №5 - 2013

  
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