Institutional Arrangement for EFL Teacher Professional Development
*Dr. Laxman Gnawali
When the discussions and deliberations are made on the EFL teacher professional development, main stress is put on the efforts teachers need to make for their own growth: what opportunities there are and what the teachers need to do to make the best out of them. Teacher educators make prescriptions on the strategies teachers need to follow so they can grow and develop enhancing their professional capability. While teachers’ own efforts are crucial in accessing and utilizing the opportunities, the role of the institutions cannot be underestimated. It’s the institutions, i.e. the schools and colleges, which have the power to facilitate or to bar the teachers from the available professional development opportunities. The institutions are even more instrumental for the EFL teachers as these teachers are a minority in terms of the language they work with. They work with a language which finds itself as foreign where it is taught. The institutions need to make a conducive environment so these teachers can grow professionally. For this, the following institutional arrangements can play an instrumental role for creating such an environment.
- Induction: Once the newly recruited teachers enter the institution, they need to be inducted into the system that operates. The induction involves the process by which teachers are made familiar with the physical facilities, colleagues and staff, service givers, the givens of the institution etc. They are also shown the classroom processes and the way they are expected to deal with the students.
- Mentoring: The induction helps the newly recruited teachers to settle but to support the teacher with the implicit nuances of the school culture, classroom culture, pedagogical processes and also to build the psychological confidence, a senior colleague need to be given the role of the mentor. The protégé gradually makes himself/herself comfortable in the institutional setting gaining the psychological well-being.
- In-house professional development events: Unless the institution organizes in-house professional development events, teachers will not feel the need to andmotivation for doing something to help themselves. The in-house training seminars, professional sharing between teachers, talks by ‘experts’, in-house publication, and other in-house collaborative efforts will promote professional dialogues between the teachers.
- Inter-institution exchanges: For the crossbreeding of the ideas and good practices, institutions can agree to organize short-term teacher exchanges. In this, a teacher from one institution goes to partner institution while the counterpart from the partner institution comes to his/her institution and teach the respective classes. These exchanges will be instrumental in sharing ideas and insights between the institutions.
- Membership of professional bodies: There are EFL teacher associations and networks that support teachers in their professional endeavors. If the institution makes it mandatory for the teachers to be members of these associations and networks, the teachers will benefit in two ways: they will get opportunities for the professional development; more than that, they will get information for the opportunities that are not instantly available. With such information, they can help themselves.
- Subscribing to the professional journals: The professional journals bring in fresh ideas from the professional communities. They help teachers to be updated with the latest development in ELT. From classroom tips to updates on news trends, the journals keep the teachers afresh with the contemporary ELT pedagogy.
While there can be many other institutional arrangements for supporting EFL teachers at work, the process of empowering them right from the beginning with the induction and mentoring and at a later stage with the professional exposure with seminars, exchanges, and journal subscriptions, the institutions can facilitate the professional development of the EFL teachers who ultimately pay back to the institutions.
(Dr. Gnawali is an Associate Professor at School of Education, Kathmandu University. He also served as an Acting President of NELTA.)