A school is only as good as its teachers, and that is especially true of DFL. The reason why we provide such a high quality education at DFL is because of our remarkable teachers. Feeling very fortunate to be working with a dedicated team of teachers, we, together with all the teachers, created a Professional Development Program (PDP) for teachers who want to learn and grow in the profession, and who want to ensure that their development results in increased learning among their students.
By benefiting from the skills of involved teacher-leaders, our PDP’s goal is to help teachers implement
professional learning that ultimately leads to teacher empowerment and better student learning. Under the guidance of teacher-leaders who play a vital role in supporting the development of their peers, during spring and fall semesters all teachers choose from a variety of professional development options which we believe will help us better address the complex and dynamic characteristics of teacher needs.
Some of the options we offer as part of our PDP are;
A starting point in teacher development is an awareness of what the teacher’s current knowledge, skills, and attitudes are and the use of such information as a basis for self-appraisal. Often in institutions a performance appraisal by a manager or supervisor provides an outsider’s perspective on current level of performance, based on classroom observation, student feedback, an interview, and other sources of information. However, teachers are also often able to make such judgments themselves based on information they collect about their own teaching. Self-monitoring or self-observation is intended for this purpose and refers to activities in which information about one’s teaching is documented or recorded in order to review or evaluate teaching. Self-monitoring or self-observation refers to a systematic approach to the observation, evaluation, and management of one’s own behavior in order to achieve a better understanding and control over the behavior.
Peer observation refers to a teacher or other observer closely watching and monitoring a language lesson or part of a lesson in order to gain an understanding of some aspect of teaching, learning, or classroom interaction. Group members take turns observing each other’s teaching and discussing their observations during group sessions. Data collected from the observations (e.g., by audio-taping or videotaping it) can be discussed in light of the group’s experience and beliefs.
A teaching journal is an ongoing written account of observations, reflections, and other thoughts about teaching, usually in the form of a notebook, book, or electronic mode, which serves as a source of discussion, reflection, or evaluation. The journal may be used as a record of incidents, problems, and insights that occurred during lessons; it may be an account of a class that the teacher would like to review or return to later; or it may be a source of information that can be shared with others.
Action research refers to teacher-conducted classroom research that seeks to clarify and resolve practical teaching issues and problems. The term “action research” refers to two dimensions of this kind of activity: The word research in “action research” refers to a systematic approach to carrying out investigations and collecting information that is designed to illuminate an issue or problem and to improve classroom practice. The word action refers to taking practical action to resolve classroom problems. Action research takes place in the teacher’s own classroom and involves a cycle of activities centering on identifying a problem or issue, collecting information about the issue, devising a strategy to address the issue, trying out the strategy, and observing its effects.
The idea is very simple: to set up a regular time slot during the school week when teachers can meet to share good ideas and resources. Forums work best if they take place at the same time and on the same day every week. Ideally, they should be informal and simply hosted in a classroom. Each session is led by a colleague who is willing to share a successful teaching strategy and/or resource that they have used in their own classroom. They present for five to ten minutes. This is then followed by a brief discussion about the strategy/resource during which other colleagues have the opportunity to describe similar strategies or resources. After 15 minutes of pedagogical patter, the session ends and the attendees go off to get on with their other work.
A workshop is an intensive, short-term learning activity that is designed to provide an opportunity to acquire specific knowledge and skills. In a workshop, participants are expected to learn something that they can later apply in the classroom and to get hands-on experience with the topic, such as developing procedures for classroom observation or conducting action research. Workshops can also provide opportunities for participants to examine their beliefs or perspectives on teaching and learning, and use this process to reflect on their own teaching practices. Workshops can address issues related to both institutional improvement and individual development and they are led by a person who is considered an expert and who has relevant experience in the workshop topic.
This club is made up of teachers who want to discuss a book or article they have all read. Teachers decide on their own schedules for the books or articles to be read. The schedule for the whole semester should be planned right at the beginning. Teachers come together on scheduled days and discuss the issues in the material and their own experiences about the issues. One or more of the teachers may have applied X part in the book or article or may have used X issue discussed in the book or the article, so they may reflect on what they did and how it worked. Teachers may take notes about the points so that they will have no difficulty reflecting on their experiences at the end of the whole process.
Lesson study is the Japanese art of teacher professional development. It involves the identification of an area of teaching that needs to be developed by a group of teachers. The group then plans a lesson together (the research lesson) to address that area of need, with a particular focus on specific students to monitor their progress. One teacher then delivers the research lesson, while the other members of the group observe. They then interview the target students to gauge their progress and engagement during the lesson. The lesson is then reviewed by the group, with strengths and further areas for development identified. The process is then repeated (with somebody else teaching the research lesson) based on this review. At the end of the process the lesson study team writes a report documenting their lesson study in a form that makes their lesson and the results of their study accessible to fellow teachers.
Team teaching is a process in which two or more teachers share the responsibility for teaching a class. The teachers share responsibility for planning the class or course, for teaching it, and for any follow-up work associated with the class such as evaluation and assessment. It thus involves a cycle of team planning, team teaching, and team follow-up. It allows teachers to cooperate as equals, although when teachers with differing levels of experience share the same class, some elements of a coaching relationship may also occur.
A reflective approach to teaching is one in which teachers collect data about their teaching and use the information they have obtained to examine critically their attitudes, beliefs, assumptions and teaching practices. Reflective teaching considers how reflection can become more effective through systematic training and practice and it aims to develop teachers’ reflective skills by giving them the opportunity to watch video recordings of their lessons and to support their analysis of them.
All teachers choosing one of the PDP options above designed to help create opportunities to enhance professional autonomy, emphasize professional judgment, and provide spaces to validate teacher voices share their experiences during our two-day ELT Fusion event organized by and for teachers themselves.