ΤΕΥΧΟΣ 16-17

ΤΕΥΧΟΣ 16-17

ISSUE 16-17

Spring - Autumn 2011

EDITORIAL

Δ. Ματθαίου

CONTENTS

Τhe teacher is nowadays expected to play a complex and multiple role. Apart from teaching, which is a complex procedure, since it is formed by the context, in which it takes place, the teacher also has a role of social intervention. At the same time, the discussion and research on school effectiveness has shown that the contribution of the teacher and his/her work is of major importance towards the improvement of the school outcomes as well as in the introduction of innovation. In order to cope with this wider and demanding role, there is a need of qualifications which go beyond the simple knowledge of the subject that he/she teaches at school. The teacher needs to be able to make use of knowledge, teaching competencies and educational views on one side and, on the other, to have an inexhaustible supply of abilities, attitudes and devotion to the long-term advantages of his/her students in view of a better future.

The starting point of this paper is the view that, if the education of the prospective teachers meets certain conditions, it can substantially contribute to the acquirement of the necessary resources by the teachers and therefore to the improvement of school work.

In particular, the paper discusses two approaches in teacher education, from which one can derive conclusions in terms of practical applications. The first one is called ‘person-centered’, since it concentrates on the teacher as a person. According to this approach, teacher education constitutes just one phase of their professional development. Teachers develop professionally on a permanent basis through a continuing process of becoming, which interacts with other sides of their development, such as the psychological, the affective and the social. The second approach could be named ‘systemic’, since it transfers the issue to the policy concerning the teacher’s work as a profession. According to this approach, the holistic view of the work of teachers has influenced their education also on the systemic level, since it was considered as a means of upgrading of the specific profession, regarding both the qualifications as well as the work terms.

These two approaches are complementary with one another through their differences. Both have shown the width and the difficulty of the effort to provide the prospective teachers with the necessary competence for the profession. However, this can only happen, if the whole effort is considered as a desideratum of policy and not just a desideratum of administration or management. That is, first if there is agreement on what is the meaning of ‘excellence’ for the profession of teachers and then, if the agreement acts as guiding principle a) for the regulations of the state concerning the profession of the teacher and b) for the curriculum development on behalf of institutions of initial teacher education.

How is then the excellent teacher to be formed? Is it a lonely lifelong process, which the teacher goes through by making his/her own personal choices of education, training and self-education through experience? Or is this process subjected to a multilevel system of regulations on behalf of the state, which aim at providing the schools with high-level professionals? The paper suggests that both are the case.

The suggestions that are made in the international literature mainly on the curriculum development and evaluation emphasize the need for common guidelines to exist as well as the coherence among all curriculum elements, from the conditions of student entry to the evaluation. The conclusions from the view of the person-centered approach lead to proposals of application, mainly on the level of organization of the studies of the prospective students and of teaching methodology with an emphasis on flexibility. It is claimed that there is no standard model for the preparation of the prospective teachers, even in the context of accredited university curricula, but there is a need for flexibility and adaptability to the personal and differentiated needs. Finally, two needs are stressed: the need to extend teacher education on university level as well as the need for the state to include the regulations concerning the preparation of teachers in a unified policy for the specific profession.

An attempt is made in this paper to articulate a historic-biographic approach to the professional development of teachers. The main issue in this approach is to identify critical “episodes” in the process of professional development of teachers, within the historical context of becoming teacher, from going to school, studying at the university, coming back to school as a teacher, and working there to the point of retirement.

These “episodes” are historically imbedded   in a dynamic long-life process of becoming teacher. As such, these “episodes” can be exploited in order to support teachers to re- examine their   past experiences or practice, to critically reflect upon them, to negotiate their meaning, and develop a deeper understanding of their social functions. This is a process of transforming teachers into active adult learners, within a framework of relative autonomy. The important question raised here is whether these “episodes” are systematically incorporated in the policies regarding the initial and the in-service training of teachers with the main aim to support their transformation into adult reflective   intellectual. The answer to this question, as a matter of fact, is an answer to the question “who is the teacher we need and for what school”. By addressing this major question, the issue of   the initial and in-service training of teachers is put in it’ s political and ideological framework.

This framework is , to a large extent, determined by developments and trends which seem to be prevailing within European Union, and by the ways in which theses trends and “guidelines” are adopted by the various Greek  projects in relation to the professional development of teachers. It seems that the tendency in Greece   is to adopt a mechanistic approach   rather than to develop policies   transforming   both the   form and   the content of education. If such is the case, the issue of educational change in Greece seems, once more, to be cancelled.

In the present paper an effort is made to define teachers’ further education, to document its necessity, to present the various kinds of further education and to analyze the situation concerning teachers’ further education in Greece both in the past and in the present. At the same time the relevant problems that are brought about are being underlined, as well as their consequences on the educational praxis, teachers, students and the educational system in general. Moreover, some thoughts are presented concerning the present and the future of the institution of teachers’ further education in the form of remarks and suggestions, which can prove to be useful for the people in charge for the mapping out of the educational policy in Greece.

The various forms of Greek-language education in the Diaspora is the main area of its functioning and refinement. At the same time, teacher is the most important factor for the tuition of the Greek language in the Diaspora. The are two basic types of teachers in Greek education abroad: 1) Greek teachers who live and work abroad 2) Greek teachers living in Greece and transferred by the Ministry of Education for five years in schools abroad.  The first type consists of many subtypes based on the basic training of the teachers. This article refers to the basic and in service training as well of the teachers that works in the Greek-language education in the Diaspora.

For the type (type 2) of Greek teachers (that lives in Greece and are detached abroad) their basic training is not specialized into the greek-language education abroad as a subject. At the same time their in-service training is not fully established by the greek Government.

As it concerns the type of Greek teachers that lives abroad their basic training diverges from country to country. While regarding their in-service training we see that training is being taken over by the Greek state according to the law 2413/96 and the funding of the “Education for Greeks Abroad” project. 

The types, the training forms as well as the conclusions that are come from them are particularly interesting.

This article introduces specific problems related to the basic education of future teachers and the training of in service teachers in the Educational Sciences, with emphasis on teachers with university studies in Physical and Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Informatics, Engineering etc.

First we examine the question of the distance between on one hand concerns and queries expressed in the community in which political decisions are taken as well as in the scientific community and on other hand the implementation of specific, consistent and effective policies.

Then we discuss the issue of the differences between the two contexts within which actions are carried out regarding future teachers’ basic education and in service teachers’ training. These differences arise due to the different nature both of the studies and of the two target-groups professional status, since the subjects of the first group are students and the subjects of the latter are teachers with professional experience and specialized needs.

This article focuses mainly on Science teachers’ basic education and training. In this case, apart from general issues, there is the problem of the significant epistemological gap between the basic Science they studied and Educational Sciences. For example, the content, the research methods and the application fields of the main approaches on Educational Sciences, such as Sociology of Education, Educational Psychology or Didactic of Technology, are completely unclear cognitive areas for an engineer. For this reason Science teachers’ initiation in Educational Sciences, either during their basic education or while in service, requires special planning and practices. It is common to observe Science teachers expressing a sense of superiority accompanied with a repulsion and / or futile engagement with Educational Sciences. The exploitation of relevant research results, the organization of specific strategies and means is therefore required in order to confront stereotypes, attitudes and practices.

Regarding this issue it is argued that the transition from the world of Sciences to the world of Educational Sciences can not be achieved through ‘knowledge transfer’, but rather through practices that are significant for the teachers in each specific context of basic education or in service training. In this perspective two particular examples are presented and discussed.

The first example presents the general principles and findings of an exploratory learning process that took place during the basic studies of a group of trainee Physics teachers. After introducing those teachers to issues relevant to a special class of problems, that in Didactic terminology are called “open problems”, those trainee Physics teachers design, implement in their classrooms and study the effectiveness of a teaching intervention including open problems. Additionally, their researcher-trainer identifies the benefits and obstacles of such a process, using a different analysis technique.

The second example illustrates a training program of in service Physics teachers who had more than 10 years of teaching experience and who had already participated in a seminar concerning the introduction to Science Education. During a relevant workshop the teachers were asked to design the structure of a programme for teaching the concept of energy in high school, within the objective of improving the Greek curriculum that they had already criticized. Physics teachers produced a text with their suggestions and then worked on the main principles and applications of a classification tool of the curriculum on energy, a structured tool based on the concepts of Science Education. Upon the completion of this phase, researchers-trainers presented to the teachers an analysis of their initial suggestions upon the curriculum and the teachers themselves studied, commented and reviewed their initial plans using the classification tool. Thus, the teachers had the opportunity to critically examine their views using a special classification tool that in this case was used as a training tool.

Finally we discuss general issues of the basic education and training of Sciences teachers.

The new economy and new communication technologies have prompted a reconceptualisation of what literacy is and what kinds of literacy are needed by learners today in order to function effectively in tomorrow’s economy and society. The promotion and development of the range of literacies and competencies needed by learners, has called for significant changes in teacher roles, responsibilities, competencies and skills and has in turn necessitated changes in the aims and content teacher education programmes in order to effectively prepare teachers for their new agendas. In this article an attempt is made to highlight the various new roles and responsibilities that 21st century language teachers are expected to take on and fulfil, and how teacher education programmes can best prepare language teachers for these. Recent approaches to and the goals for the pre-service training and education of language teachers are presented as well as new areas of concern for the preparation of future teachers such as the importance of student teachers’ beliefs and personal theories, the value of reflection and the importance of the teaching practice experience for the effective preparation and socialisation of teachers. These areas of concern have been taken into account in restructuring the Pre-service EFL Teacher Training and Education programme of the Faculty of English Studies of the University of Athens. A presentation of the reformed goals and structure of the programme together with innovations being planned for the improvement of the programme close this article.

The New School is to prepare the future citizen of the emerging Knowledge Society in order to be able to face the challenges and seize the opportunities of the new era as a responsible, democratic, active and thinking citizen, transforming the social and economic reality that surrounds him. In this sense, it promotes the development of the necessary cognitive, social and technological skills.

The new curricula, which will serve the New School philosophy, should be open and flexible, objective-oriented, uniform and consistent, concise and interdisciplinary promoting respect for students’ different learning styles, classroom characteristics and different socio-cultural representations.

Therefore the role of teacher training is twofold. It should not only support the above theoretical background, in terms of teaching procedures taking into account current conditions of school every day life but lay the ground for its transformation. The current economic and social environment poses not only new challenges but difficulties as well which must be addressed immediately and effectively.

The physical object of the Teacher Training Program refers to the training of 150,000 school teachers of all disciplines (primary and secondary education). The training will be voluntary and accompanied by a set of incentives which will be determined according to the findings of the research on the participants training needs and the suggestions of the scientific, educational and social organizations which participated in the consultation process.

The training program is based on the principles of adult education and intends to ensure maximum flexibility regarding space, time and teachers’ special learning rhythms in accordance with the methodology of distance learning, while providing for the use of innovative applications from Greece and other countries.

The Educational Training Framework is governed by the following principles:

1. Optionality of the training process while establishing a set of incentives

The involvement of teachers in the educational process is not mandatory and lies on each prospective trainee’s discretion and availability on the proposed time for the training program.

2. Active participation of the teachers involved

The teacher is encouraged to contribute to the development of the aim, objectives and content of the training program. He is invited to become a co-creator of the educational material, building on his invaluable experience and sharing it with his colleagues as a classroom teacher.

3. Heuristic strategies towards knowledge

The teacher’s heuristic course to knowledge is encouraged through his interaction with the learning material, the trainers and the other trainees through the creation of learning communities using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the methodology of distance learning.

4. Direct application and connection of the training program to the classroom:

A major priority of the Teacher Training Program is the direct application of the training outcome in the classroom and the teacher’s continuous feedback regarding the training material in collaboration with the trainer and the other trainees throughout the program.

5. Flexibility

The training program provides trainees with flexibility in space, time and pace regarding training sessions, combining face to face with Distance Learning methodologies, at the same time using printed and digital educational material.

6. Social Interaction

Emphasis is given to creating a dynamic social interaction environment through teamwork activities and participatory instructional techniques.

The Pedagogical Institute Department of Training conducted a research on teachers’ training needs in Greece. 27,785 teachers, 3435 School Principals, 554 School Advisors, 22 Heads of Scientific and Pedagogical Guidance and 274 Heads of Regional Education Directorates answered a questionnaire which was distributed in paper and uploaded on the relevant site. The purpose of this research was to imprint the educational community views and attitudes on all matters relating to teacher training programs.

This paper is devoted to a dramatic transition in a nursery teacher’s life, the transition from being a student to being a teacher of young children in England and in Scotland. The topic is considered important because reforms on such a transition are taking place on the premise that they will contribute to teachers’ professionalisation. However, work by sociologists and early years educators reveal a different perspective on professionalism. So the purpose of this paper is to find out if the relevant reforms in these two countries have anything to do with the definition of professionalism given by sociologists and early years educators.

Sociologists and early years educators agree that it is professional for a teacher to (a) own a body of esoteric knowledge with practical applications which they acquired after studying at a university and to (b) prioritise their clients’ welfare over anything else. It is also professional for a group of equal competence professionals, in this case teachers, to control other workers employed in semi-professional or bureaucratic jobs (e.g. nursery nurses, teaching assistants). 

England and Scotland were selected to be studied, because, even though they are parts of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Nothern Ireland, they have different education systems. Not only that, the active involvement of practising teachers in professional matters such as the induction of new teachers came in England 30 years later than in Scotland. This has a negative effect because the state was responsible for certain professional issues rather than the teaching profession a lot longer than in Scotland. These countries were also selected because there is school hierarchy among teachers in a nursery school, which is not considered a professional characteristic by sociologists.

To discover whether current policy promotes teachers’ professionalism during their first year of employment, their induction year, the respective policy documents of each country were analysed.

It has been found that both Ministies of Education are interested in teachers knowing how to teach and relate to other education partners as well as how to keep informed and appraise their own progress.

However, there are a few extra criteria in the Scottish case, which are in accordance with the definition of professionalism provided by sociologists and early years educators but not in the English one. These are the importance of justifying one’s practice based on current theory and research, which at the same time combats the unprofessional element of hierarchy and its pressure on teachers to conform to a supperior co-worker’s suggestions.

The second extra criterion found in the scottish document refers to the perception of what a teacher is supposed to do, which is broader because it refers to children’s social, physical and civic education unlike England.

A third criterion is that teachers should (a) differentiate their teaching according to their pupils’ age and its developmental features and (b) organise the nursery nurses’ work, which is professional and even though nursery nurses are found in English nursery schools this duty is assessed only in Scotland.

Finally, teachers acting as researchers, which enriches the theoretical knowledge of the profession was appreciated only in Scotland. 

In conclusion there are more professional elements in the teachers’ induction year policy of Scotland, which means that their perception of a profession is closer to the sociological and education definition than that of their English counterparts.