By Abdul Wali
Teacher professional development is a process of sharpening and strengthening teachers’ knowledge, skills and changing their perception and beliefs about teaching, so that the process of teaching and learning take place in an effective and smooth way. As a result students’ learning outcome can be enhanced. PD is not a onetime activity that one can get mastery and apply it throughout the life. Rather it is a rigorous process which needs to be refined and renewed with the passage of time in order to align teaching with the needs and demands of the contemporary society.
This paper presents a detail account on teacher professional development (PD) in Pakistan. The paper begins with an overview of PD followed by analysis of issues. in It also suggests a PD model and its implications at policy level.
PD in education is used for variety of specialized trainings, formal education, or advanced professional learning aims to help, teachers and educators improve their professional knowledge, competence, skills, and effectiveness. In addition, Silva (2013) defines that “professional development as a fundamental piece of the ‘formative jigsaw’ of the teacher, which implies not only the performance of different teaching activities but also the development of convictions and conceptions that will underpin these activities”(p.36).
Day (2004) views that to improve the performance of teachers, their development must be defined in accordance with their personal and institutional needs, so as to favor their “commitment and disposition in relation to learning,” while being a learner throughout life.
I understand that PD is the rebirth of teachers’ professional life because knowledge is evolving and educational demands/needs are increasing rapidly. To counter to those challenges teachers also need to renew, refresh and update their skills, knowledge and competence. Hence, PD is a process providing an opportunity for the teacher to learn new skills and knowledge so that the teacher would have survival in the market and facilitate students to explore latest knowledge and ways of cherishing their inner abilities.
PD in Pakistan
PD in Pakistan is carried out through certificate And degree level formal and informal ways. For example CT, PTC, BEd and MEd. Beside these PD is also done through session which includes a range of topics and format such as in public schools, district education office supports PD through state budget and foreign assistance. Moreover, private institutions are also working for PD. The Nature of PD is also varying from a one-day conference to a two-week workshop. Also, mode of PD is different such as in person or online, during the school day or outside of normal school hours, and through one-on-one interactions or in group situations. (King, 2013, Erley & Porreit, 2013). Pakistan’s national education policy (2009) reads;
The quality of teachers in the public sector is unsatisfactory. Poor quality of teacher in the system in large numbers is owed to the mutations in governance, an obsolete pre-service training structure and a less than adequate in service training regime (p.44).
Moreover, USAID (2010) reported that Pakistan has a traditional and authoritarian way of teacher training. Whatever, is taught, teachers are encouraged to copy the same in the classroom. Teachers are very poor in content and methodology. Moreover, pre-service and in-service trainings are insufficient. There is hierarchy in the system and teachers are not delegated task and leadership roles. Also, teachers have rare professional development opportunities. Moreover, ministry of education (2009) reports that teacher preparation in Pakistan is standard based.. Additionally, 26% teachers are untrained, 36 % have rudimentary CT and PTC training and only 21% have BEd and MEd. Living in the bulk of issues now the question arises that what kind of training teachers need? In this regard Rizvi (2015) argues that Pakistan requires classroom teacher leaders who have the capacity to initiate and sustain school improvement. The author proposes the pedagogy of transformation to develop teachers as active professionals who have the capacity to influence and drive improvements in their own learning and in the learning of the children. I agree with the author as Pakistan needs a shift from authoritarian way of training to a participatory approach of PD.
Suggested PD Plan
Global practices of PD include Guskey model, teachers’ life, reflection model, mentoring, lesson study and Hall and Hard model of concern. The results differ from context to context. (Harris, 2000, Yager, 2005 & Luo, 2014).
The models and strategies have their strengths and limitations but what model can work for is important. Addition to the reasons for PD mentioned above, here I present some ground realities of teachers of my context(GB) that Public school teachers’ view that they have permanent jobs therefore, no one can fir them even if they do not grow professionally. Also, one can hardly see acceptance, coordination and collaboration among the teachers. This means that the teachers want to be in comfort zone and consider government job as their last resort (Aslam, 2013). In the given situation not a single model can be labeled to serve the purpose. Cognizant of the fact, keeping in view the realities and context, I present below a model.
The model above indicates the professional development starts from mastery on content knowledge and then practice through collaboration. As a result of collaboration the teachers will respect each other and develop their leadership skill. Then teachers will change their practice by reflecting and sharing their experience with each other. Teachers practice will than change their beliefs about teaching resulting into students learning outcome.
I believe that for any change collaboration is crucial. When there is team work and coordination, it will ultimately improve the content, practice and teaching. I also believe that until and unless teachers change their beliefs about teaching it would be difficult to bring change no matter how trained and qualified the teachers are.
Implications of PD for policy and Students’ learning outcomes
PD of teachers has direct bearing with students leaning at various levels. For instance, professionally sound teachers can only facilitate the students to explore and inquire about the new concepts. In this way students develop their understanding and polish their skills of research and inquiry. Trained teachers use innovative strategies in their teaching and ensure maximum participation of students. Consequently, students’ creativity, working style, perspectives and conceptual understanding enhance. This means there is a close relationship between PD and students’ learning. Similarly, professionally groomed teachers better contribute to policy making because they are more aware of the gross root level needs of teachers, students, community and the nation at large. Unfortunately, Pakistan has a top down approach in developing educational policies with minimum participation of teachers. Most of the policies fail because of this gap between the actual need and the idealized needs. Point to ponder is that Pakistani teachers need first to be professionally developed and also be encouraged to participate in the educational policy making. In this way teacher can truly raise the real issues of the education and can come up with solutions to counter them. Therefore, the proposed plan is unique because it is contextually relevant, need driven and also has inspiration from theoretical underpinning.
Summing up PD of teachers is not only the call of time but also is a matter of teachers’ survival. In Pakistan the concept of professional development in public sector is hierarchical and need shift to more participatory approach. Point to ponder is that professional development cannot be denied at all. Therefore, there is needed to grow teachers professionally through contextually, relevant and need based models. That will reflect in students learning outcomes. In these way teachers needs as well as the needs of contemporary education may be fulfilled.