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Motswiri, M J

 

 

Effective Preparation of Teachers for Life-long Learning: The Role of an Induction Programme.

M. J. Motswiri

University of Botswana

Abstract:

One of the major issues emerging from Botswana's Revised National Policy on Education is that of "Effective Preparation of Students For Life, Citizenship and World of Work." This paper considers one facet of a range of steps that will ensure training and development of teachers who are given the task of providing students with skills needed for embracing life-long learning. It is suggested that a tripartite system of Pre-service, Induction and In-service is needed and the paper considers the Induction process for beginning teachers in detail. All three stages are necessary to produce a self-directing professional with the ability to interpret, adapt and improve the syllabus of their subject specialty. Induction marks the beginning of the teacher's professional development that comprises three dimensions: personal, knowledge and environment. These three dimensions combine in the concept of pedagogical content knowledge that is essential if teachers are to develop into effective practitioners. It is argued that ultimately the quality of life for individuals in society depends on the quality and effectiveness of teachers in the classroom.

Introduction

Throughout history, changes in a society, be it social or economic, invariably invokes calls for reform in the education system of the society. The point made by the commission on education of 1993, that resulted in the Government white paper No. 2 of 1994 on the Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE) is change. When change is called for in the education system of a country, its teacher education also has to change to accommodate requirements of new policy. The teacher has to be prepared accordingly. This is the case also of the teacher in science education. The education commission of 1977 was a response to a conspicuous lack of skilled personnel among the citizens. The strategy that came out of the policy was to get as many children as possible into the school. This would have the effect of making it possible to identify as many able students as possible for further training. For quantity, the policy has paid off. However, it has become known that this quantity lacks quality. The RNPE (1994) is premised on the thinking that the education system has failed in providing its products with skills and attitudes that will make them initiative and self reliant. Thus, instead of seeking employment they would create employment. The economic reasons seem to have an overriding influence than social reasons. This agrees with observations made by Bybee(1993) that:

Economic conditions have resulted in demands from many citizens, for a safe and secure education that translates into emphasizing functional knowledge, vocations, and careers, all in an attempt to increase employment opportunities, (p.16).

With the new policy, attitudes will also be accorded a significant role. The products of the system and entering industry would be readily willing to learn to adapt to their job routines. While there may be more issues that led to calls for change, the above would seem to have been the overriding reasons. These have not necessarily been stated in the policy, but it is clear the calls for quality to address the quantity problems are aimed at addressing these issues. It is not only quality that is at issue, the policy also advocates for life-long learning. Quality and life-long learning have become common words in education recently.

With the concept of quality and life-long learning in mind, there is necessarily a need to debate issues on what type of teacher, the teacher education should produce. The teacher in question should be able to engender the qualities of life-long learning among his/her students in science and mathematics. Mautle (1991) noted that, "for professional teacher educators, it is a question of being clear about what kind of teacher we want to produce,"(p.81). In his presentation entitled, "Having a model of an ideal teacher: A necessary quality for a successful professional teacher educator," he posed several questions that are still relevant today. The main question was as being, "What kind of teacher would we like to produce for Botswana?" He further produced a criteria for the ideal product of our teacher education that,

Our ideal teacher will demonstrate the conviction that like all societies, ours is dynamic and so are values and aspirations. The teacher will demonstrate this by cherishing critical thinking. The students will always be encouraged to always examine ideas, whether from books, teachers, senior teachers, or others, before they accept or reject them. The ideal teacher's goal will be to empower students to assess situations for themselves (including an examination of the national ideals to determine whether they are still valid) and to come up with the most appropriate course of action," (p.84).

In this paper, the questions posed by Mautle(1991), presentation will serve as a platform on which the concept of life-long learning in teacher education may entail. The questions will be used to help understand appreciate the importance of the transition phase from initial training to in-service, we call induction.

The nature of the problem

Almost all over the world the call for life-long learning has become a prominent theme for

educational change. Life-long learning has been recognized by both policy developers as well as implementers. The RNPE (1994) notes the role of the science teachers being of crucial importance in achieving life-long learning. Government recognizes this in the white paper no. 2 of 1994, when it declares on page 4, under the main issues of the policy that:

The success of any education system depends largely on teachers. They are the catalyst of the learning process and on them mainly rests the whole system. They are therefore crucial in the strategy to achieve a more effective and responsive education system.

To underscore this recognition, the government proposes what measures will be put in place to raise the status, hence the performance of teachers. These measures will include, "....both improved pre-service and in-service training.....," (RNPE, 1994:11). In this sense, one cannot help identifying with the statement by Cremin (1965), when he commented thus about the training of science teachers, thus:

But education is too significant and dynamic an enterprise to be left to mere technicians; and we might as well begin now the prodigious task of preparing men and women who understand not only the substance of what they are teaching but also the theories behind the particular strategies they employ to convey that substance. A society committed to the continuing intellectual, aesthetic, and moral growth of all its members can ill afford less on the part of those who undertake to teach, (Cremin 1965:57 as Quoted by Bybee, 1993:158).

Training of suitable teachers equipped to teach students for long-life learning is easier said than done. Questions about how this will be achieved and what life-long learning entails are relevant here. This is necessary for the formulation and organisation of appropriate strategies in teacher training courses that will equip trainees relevant knowledge and skills engender life-long learning skills and attitudes in students. According to government's thinking, "...the main aim of education must be to prepare individuals for life. Thus, one of the central goals of the curriculum must be adequate preparation for the world of work,"(RNPE 1994:3). This goal is thus very closely related to one of the country's national goals, 'self-reliance'.

Traditional methods of teacher-training tend be biased towards giving teachers enough information above the standards they will teach and throw them in the deep end. It is true that measures such as teaching practice are employed to introduce the beginning teacher to teaching. This has, however, been found to have limited effect on the whole. Chakalisa, Motswiri and Yandila (1995) observe that:

Most teacher educators all over the world agree that the formal, initial pre-service training is inadequate for beginning teachers to successfully perform their teaching duties in the classroom, a view well corroborated by findings in most literature on teacher education (Kagan 1992, Huling-Austin 1992, Vonk 1993).

Indeed a solid foundation in pre-service programme designed to train teachers with a strong sense of vocation and such a programme backed by a strong in-service education would go a long way towards placing teachers in the classroom who would enhance realisation of the desired life-long learning attitudes. However, the present situation indicates that there seems to be wide gap between pre-service and in-service for most teachers. Teaching is believed to begin necessarily with a teacher's understanding of what is to be learned and how it is to be taught (Shulman, 1987). Teaching is regarded as problematic in nature. Its knowledge base is complex and extensive. Shulman (1987) alludes to this complexity by observing that:

properly understood, the actual and potential sources for a knowledge base are so plentiful that our question should not be, Is there really much one needs to know in order to teach? Rather, it should express our wonder at how the extensive knowledge of teaching can be learned at all during the brief period allotted to teacher preparation, (p.7).

A transition needs to be made therefore. Hence induction programme (IP). As Grossman (1988 & 1989), quoted by Fullan (1993), concluded from her study of practising teachers that:

While subject-matter knowledge, good character, and the inclination to teach are important characteristics of beginning teachers, they do not necessarily lead to a pedagogical understanding of subject matter nor to a theoretical understanding of how students learn a particular subject.

Thus, the main question to ask is: How can we make the most effective and yet short transition from pre-service to in-service? Further, how can a department for Science Education accommodate both an induction and in-service programs as an integral part of the course programme structure of the department? Are there opportunities and threats to explore?

Induction programme

Teacher education, or teacher as learner, from day one, must be thought of as a career on proposition. Teacher education or teacher development is a continuum of learning. Teacher development and school development must go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other, (Fullan, 1993:289).

Life-long learning has become a common phrase in education currently. Many education systems have premised their philosophies on the idea of developing education programmes that will produce individuals empowered with skills that will enable them to engage in life-long learning. Thus, most educational changes in recent times have been about learning how to do something new (Fullan, 1993:289). The induction of beginning teachers is the linking of pre-service education and classroom practice. Beginning teachers are supported in the initial attempts in coming to terms with full-time teaching (Chakalisa, Motswiri and Yandila, 1995).

Continuum of process of teachers' professional development

Induction phase of a teacher is a very important stage in the development of the professional career of a teacher. The phase has consequences on future of development of the teacher as a self-directing professional. The teacher we would call a reflective practitioner (Schon, 1987).

The main assumption of the Induction Programme is that almost all teachers experience the transition period into teaching as the most difficult aspect of their teaching life and career. (McDonald & Elias, 1983; Veenman, 1984; Vonk, 1993.) Experience on this stage is also assumed to have a strong correlation with how the teacher would develop in their professional life (Huling-Austin, 1990).

Professional Development of a teacher

The professional development of a teacher has been described by Vonk(1993) as including a trilogy of personal, knowledge and environmental dimensions. These dimensions have been represented in a model of professional development for beginning teachers. (1) The personal dimension involves 'self-concept by the teacher.' It includes the teacher's knowledge of self and ideas about 'good practice.' (2) The environmental dimension involves the teacher's interaction with his or her working situation. It includes new responsibilities, having to adapt to school environment as well as coping with expectations from colleagues. Teaching is a developmental process, the outcome of which is a complex interaction between the individuals and the various environments in which they are participating (Lacey, 1977; Zeichner and Gore 1990; Hargreaves, 1992) (3) The knowledge and skills' dimension is concerned with pedagogical content knowledge, classroom knowledge and management skills as well as teaching skills. According to de Feiter et al.edits. (1996):

Professional development is considered to be the result of a learning process which is directed at acquiring a coherent whole of the (practical and theoretical) knowledge, insights, attitudes and repertory that a teacher needs for the everyday practicing of the profession, (Vonk, 1992:5).

This model of professional development has been found to be consistent with conclusions from different works by various educational researchers (Veenman, 1984; Vonk, 1993).

Beginning teachers (BTs) need a support system to help them increase their initial awareness of teaching activities. They need this support and assistance in learning to cope with uncertainty, confusion, and insecurity that could be brought by the teaching environment (Chakalisa, Motswiri & Yandila, 1995). Insecurity invariably leads teachers to adopt survival techniques, mostly learned from their teachers or lecturers in the faculty of education (Vonk, 1993). The danger in this is the susceptibility of this pseudo-knowledge collapsing under the classroom environment thus leaving the teacher out of wits. Huinker & Madison (1997), in their study on teachers' personal efficacy and outcome expectancy, came to the conclusion that:

As learners of science and mathematics, the Preservice teachers had vicarious experiences of observing the performances of others as the professors modeled the kind of teaching they hoped to inspire. It is likely that the Preservice teachers visualized themselves performing similarly as teachers in their own classrooms.

These vicarious experiences can easily be equated to the pseudo-knowledge referred to above. This does form part of the teacher's believe system and it becomes I can do it just as my lecturer did it! One of the subjects of the Huinker & Madison (1997) research is quoted to have remarked, "I want to teach math to make sense just like it did in this class." Bandura (1986) calls this 'perceived self-efficacy', quoted by Huinker & Madison (1997), he noted, "Perceived self-efficacy can be readily changed by relevant modeling influences when people have had little prior experience on which to base evaluations of their personal competence" (pp. 399-400). Huinker & Madison (1997), further notes the influences due to interaction with classroom experienced teachers they work with during their teaching practice and probation period. They noted that, "in addition to the course session, the Preservice teachers had vicarious experiences during their fieldwork as they observed classroom teachers and their peer partners,"(p.123).

Considering that teaching is a demanding enterprise, and that it is also tied to the availability of time, shortening the period in which the teacher works to identify their repertoire of skills and attitudes. Failure to achieve this, invariably results in frustration of either the teacher or the pupils. When teaching goes well, both the teacher and the pupils get satisfaction. Chances of meaningful learning are enhanced. Thus when teachers are able to do their work properly teaching begins to be a professional calling. It ceases to be a task to endure and take refuge in the staffroom afterwards. Fullan(1993), quoting Sarason (1972) shows us why and how this could be the case.

The fact is that our primary value concerns our need to help ourselves change and learn, for us to feel that we are growing in our understanding of where we have been, where we are, and what we are about, and that we are enjoying what we are doing..... To help others to change without this being preceded and accompanied by an exquisite awareness of the process in ourselves is "delivering a product or service" which truly has little or no significance for our personal or intellectual growth. (p.289)

Thus, as Fullan (1993) contends, professional development is the single factor crucial to change in the practice of a teacher. Thus, teaching is characterized by constant change. This is not surprising because when teaching the teacher interacts with his/her students. This has a bearing on his /her behaviour and treatment of the content. This invariably influences his/her future behaviour with the same group or another group. This is change and it is a prerequisite for professional development. Fullan sums up his analysis of professional development by noting that to be able to undergo positive change, the teacher has to have acquired certain basic skills and attitudes, under positive and friendly environment, necessary to arm him/her with confidence to view change with open mind.

To implement educational changes, teachers have to be able to assess the potential need for and quality of the changes; have certain basic skills in a range of teaching methods, planning, diagnosing, and evaluation; and be able to modify instructional activities continually in an attempt to meet the needs of diverse individual students. More broadly, they must have abilities that are barely (if at all) touched by the formal teacher education program: interacting with and learning from peers, using and relating to subject consultants, relating to the principal, talking to and working with parents. In short, not only are there difficulties in learning how to use new methods (such as applying theory to practice), but there is also an almost total neglect of the phenomenon of how changes are and can be introduced and implemented, (p.300)

Teaching is a big responsibility. "Teach is more than the skilled execution of teaching strategies; teachers must consider individual and social contexts of learning in their classroom and make decisions to support meaningful teaching and learning," (Beyer & Apple, 198; Nichols et al.,1997). Those who are entrusted with the task of teaching have assumed the role of surrogate parents, not of only the parents but the society at large. The task of the teacher could also be comparable to that of a midwife. An old saying goes thus: A mistake by a medical doctor may kill one person, but a mistake by a teacher may kill a whole generation (anonymous). It is with this view that we cannot allow mistakes even at the beginning of the teacher's professional life.

DMSE Induction Programme

There is no formal induction programmes made for this vital part of teacher-education in Botswana. Normally, employers take steps to acculturate new entrants into their profession. Thus no doctor or lawyer would be allowed to practise unless they have gone through the professional rites of passage. Such opportunity has not been available by the teacher employing body in Botswana. Thus pre-service education is seen as an adequate base for producing a fully fledged teacher. When the teacher does not seem to be performing immediately the blame lies squarely on those who taught the teacher at college or faculty level. To be fair the employer does carry out some activities meant to benefit teachers and are geared towards making their practice more effective. These activities are mainly refresher in-service workshops for teachers regardless of their experience and length of service. These workshops are provided by both ministry officers and the University of Botswana in-service programme for mathematics and science teachers.

The Department of Mathematics and Science Education's plan 7 of 1991-97, indeed made provision for the development of a teacher training programme that would go a long way in producing a truly professional teacher. A teacher who will continuously seek to upgrade and update him/herself to improve the effectiveness of his/her practice. This was captured in the DMSE philosophy statement for Development Plan-8 (DP-8) of 1997-2003, part of which reads:

Recognizing that teacher education is a life-long process, the Department strives to provide meaningful professional development opportunities to mathematics and science teachers, (DP-8 DMSE, 1996).

Thus there is lack of specific attention to beginning teachers at their most critical period of adopting, adapting and perhaps learning to improve. The main attention is on pre-service followed later by in-service activities. Thus ignoring the transition stage. It is against this background that an induction programme is seen as a necessary element in the beginning of the professional life of the teacher. The UB-INSET programme of the DMSE of the University of Botswana has initiated activities to provide this essential stage for the beginning teachers who complete at UB. This activity has been made an integral part of the INSET provision by the Department of Mathematics and Science Education for science and mathematics beginning teachers. The UB-INSET organogram clearly indicates the position of the induction programme.

Induction programme thus forms a tripartite of strategies employed by the INSET section of the DMSE to further improve practice and professionality of teachers. This approach at training a teacher, is well encapsulated in the objectives of the Department for DP-8. The main aims of the induction programme are as follows:

• to make the period of change between pre-service and in-service, also known as the threshold period less intolerable.

• to shorten the threshold period, this is necessary because the situation in schools does not cater for beginning teachers. The school system treats them as any teacher.

• to help the beginning teachers with a means to develop into self-fulfilling professionals, this would help teachers to grow in their job and probably like it. The consequence is arresting of the rate of attrition of teachers.

• to help the participants in the programme, both experienced and beginning teachers, to be more reflective in their practice.

• the programme will also develop a system of peercoaching through experienced colleagues. This mentorship will also impact positively on the practice of experienced teachers as they reflect on how to help their less experienced colleagues to come to terms with what they have been through. Thus the programme will engender attitudes towards basing our practice on theory. (DMSE-INSET Induction Programme Document, 1996:2).

It is at this level that we can begin to engage in a dialogue with the teacher in a more collegial atmosphere as opposed to the training conditions of the pre-service. In this dialogue, we could develop through a mentorship system and other strategies deemed useful to find appropriate methods we could use in such a way that the products of the system of our education is a life-long learner. Thus throughout this period we could inculcate life-long learning with the view to develop the attitude and skills of appreciating learning as an essential survival tool that will not help us solve problems in both economic and social fields.

For induction of beginning teachers to be useful, it should be seen as an integral part of the training programme of a teacher. The pre-service - induction - in-service continuum should be a programme in any teacher training institution or faculty. This would help us to continually monitor teaching and the professional development of the teacher through collegial interaction and research. In most cases it is wise to carry out research with the teacher as well as help in the implementation of the research recommendations. A teacher who clearly understands the theory behind their practice would be in a better position to relate content to life situations. This is a prerequisite for life-long learning. A teacher who clearly understands what life-long learning is should be able to demonstrate what it entails. Only when there is a continuum of the three phases of the professional development of a teacher can we truly see a self-directing or reflective practitioner in our classrooms. The teacher would enter the first phase of training in the pre-service, pass through the induction programme and enter into the professional development with confidence. The induction period would be the period of probation.

Learning involves a change. When we have learned something new we are more likely to act in a new way. This shows that we have changed. This can only help if learning means we have taken over the means of learning and own the knowledge we have learned. This is possible where we are allowed to construct our knowledge. One old proverb goes thus: When I give you a fish I teach you how to depend and when I show you how to catch a fish and I teach you how to survive. Life-long learning is when the knowledge and the modes of acquiring knowledge are internalized. This enables us to construct knowledge in future. It becomes a way of life. That is why it is essential that the training and education of the teacher should continue even in the work place, close to practice.

Opportunities and Threats

Within the context of most education systems, there are opportunities to allow for the effective implementation for teacher education and training that would encourage a holistic development a teacher. The professional development of such a teacher would necessarily involve the following stages of education and training -- initial training followed by induction programme and sustained by a comprehensive in-service programme. Within the Department of Mathematics and Science Education, already exists potential and foundation for such a structure. All academic staff members of the department are expected to participate in all the three phases of teacher training. Thus there is a deliberate effort to make INSET activities an integral part of the departmental agenda. This is the most daunting task. It involves commitment and values. Commitment in that it means more work. It also involves values in that it calls for a change in practice and belief systems. Teacher trainers may have tried and trusted methods of training. This combined with the normal university statutes' requirements make the venture near impossible.

The opportunities that are available in the approach are equally encouraging and can have sustaining effect. Viewed positively, it would seem a good reason to endeavour developing strategies along this route. The INSET wing of the department has access to schools that is only open to education officers of the ministry of education. Since the whole department participates in INSET activities, the opportunity of interacting with teachers as they develop close to practice is enhanced. Research projects can readily be carried out and the results of be implemented by the teachers. There is also an opportunity to research with teachers. When teachers understand the need and significance of research, they become more open and willing to participate in research projects. The feedback from observing and working with teachers close to practice is essential for the improvement of the initial training programme, the pre-service programme. We can easily see what works and what does not.

Summary and conclusions

The present system and programs for training teachers are not adequate to produce teachers who will shoulder the task of effectively preparing young people for the life-long learning. The programs are mostly pre-service training courses with some teaching practice. The teaching practice is invariably considered to be enough to familiarize the beginning teacher with the dynamics of teaching. For real change to take place, and for teachers to be effectively prepared for teaching and helping students to acquire skills and attitudes for life-long learning, there must be a change in the way they are prepared. An effective programme will provide the basic skills on teaching, support during transition into the field of teaching and further professional support on service. Teacher education should be a life-long process.

We are being encouraged, as teacher educators to understand that content and the ways it is taught are both essential. The holistic approach to treating the message as the medium is aptly called pedagogical content knowledge. Pedagogical content knowledge is made of pedagogy and content (Shulman, 1987:8). When the pedagogy and content are viewed separately most students would readily say that they have no problems with teaching. However, pedagogical content knowledge recognizes that what you may know would not necessarily make sense to the students. Communication is the key word. How do we communicate what is to be taught. This may improve as time goes on, one gets acquainted with being a teacher in the professional sense. However, conditions and experiences in schools may not readily help teachers to learn on the job. The period of the rites of passage has been found to have a bearing on the future development of the beginning teacher. Teachers need sustained support until they have attained a state of self-directing professional. Further in-service of teachers, is essential to enhance opportunities for further professional development. The teacher either acquires new knowledge or the existing knowledge is clarified and consolidated. This is the basis for professional growth. Only through this route, of Preservice - Induction - Inservice can teachers be educated for long-life learning, both for skills and attitudes.

References

Bandura (1986), Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Bridges, D. & Kerry, T.(1993), Developing TEACHERS Professionally - Reflections for Initial and In-service Trainers, London: Routledge.

Bybee, R.(1993), Reforming Science Education - Social Perspectives & Personal Reflections, New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.

Chakalisa, P., Motswiri, M. & Yandila, C.(1995), Problems of Beginning Teachers of Mathematics and Science in Botswana. Amsterdam: VUA University Press.

Craft, A.(1996), Continuing professional Development - A Practical Guide for Teachers and Schools, London: Open University Press. Routledge.

DMSE-INSET Induction Programme Document, 1996.

Fullan (1979), School-focused in-service education in Canada. Report prepared for the Centre of Educational Research and Innovation (O.E.C.D.), Paris.

Fullan, M.(1993), The New Meaning of Educational Change, London: Cassel Educational Ltd.

Government of Botswana (1994), The Revised National Policy on Education - Government Paper no. 4, Gaborone Government Printer.

Huinker & Madison (1997), Preparing Efficacious Elementary Teachers in Science and Mathematics: The influence of Methods Courses. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 8(2), 107-126.

Huling-Austin (1990), Teacher induction programs and internships. In Houston (Ed.). Handbook of research on teacher education (pp. 535-548. New York: Macmillan.

Huling-Austin, L.(1992), Research on learning to teach - Implications for teacher Induction and Mentoring Programs. Journal of Teacher Education. 43(3), 173-180.

Mautle, G. (1991), Having a model of an ideal teacher: A necessary Quality for a successful professional Teacher educator, in Evans, M., Mogami, H. and Reed, J. (1991). Gaborone: Govt. Printers.

McDonald & Elias (1983), The transition into teaching: The problems of beginning teachers and programs to solve them. Summary report. Berkely, CA: Educational Testing Service.

NDP-8 Department of Mathematics and Science Education (1996), UB.

NDP-8 Faculty of Education - Dev. plan for 1997-2003 (1996).

Nichols, S., Tippins, D., & Wieseman, K. (1997), A Toolkit for Developing Critically Reflective Science Teachers. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 8(2), 77-106.

Russell T.L.(1987), Reframing the theory-practice relationship in in-service teacher education. In L.J. Newton, M. Fullan, & J.W. MacDonald (Eds.), Re-thinking teacher education: Exploring the link between research, practice and policy (pp. 125-134). Toronto: Joint Council on Education, University of Toronto/)OISE.

Schon, D. (1983), The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Shulman, L.(1987), Knowledge and Teaching - Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1-21.

Veenman, S.(1984), Perceived problems of beginning teachers. Review of Educational Research, 54(2), 143-178.

Vonk, J.H.C.(1993), Mentoring Beginning Teachers - Development of a knowledge base for mentors. A paper presented at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association. Atlanta.

 

 

        

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