Theme: Promoting English Language Teacher Professional Development (TPD): Opportunities and Challenges
He who dares to teach must never cease to learn. – Aristotle
Teaching is a very rewarding yet a challenging profession since education is ever evolving and the educational systems are constantly changing. Thus, a teacher is required to enhance his/her knowledge and skills, keep abreast of all the latest developments in teaching and learning contexts in terms of teaching methodologies, pedagogical approaches to address the challenges of the changing contexts. The aforementioned powerful adage exemplifies that a teacher should make a relentless pursuit of learning to sustain in the teaching profession. For that, one should look into the opportunities of continuous professional development from the very early start of their teaching career.
Generally, language teachers seem to be focused much on teaching specific language skills, teaching methods, and pedagogical approaches. Self-content with their teaching for a long time or with the knowledge and skills they have, they often give little importance to the notion of professional development, because of which they gradually lose zeal and enthusiasm; develop negativity and boredom towards their profession and professional lives. Often times, the issue of professional development is misunderstood as mere occasional in-service teacher trainings, seminars, workshops whence professional development, in its real sense, is a continuous process that occurs throughout the teaching career of teachers.
Scholars argue that teacher professional development should be substantially linked with what they want to see or bring in to their own classroom situations. They also argue that TPD should make teachers feel more responsible toward bringing in changes in their classroom contexts in particular and in education at large. However, the issue of professional development is often criticized as meaningless since the learning of knowledge and skill acquired through various professional development opportunities of teachers doesn’t seem to get reflected in teaching learning context of real classroom situations. The reasons could be due to the imposed top-down approach of professional development mandated by institutions rather than bottom-up approach guided by individual teacher’s perspectives for their own professional development. Thus, teachers should be provided with liberty for choosing what and how they want for their professional development.
In the context of Nepal, the Ministry of Education (MOE) through its collaboration with its apex body National Center for Educational Development (NCED) introduced Teacher Professional Development (TPD) for significant years now as a crucial part of School Sector Reform Program (SSRP). But the implementation of the TPD at community-based schools in Nepal has not been successful enough to bring in much-anticipated change and reform in classroom teaching and learning contexts. Hence, it is evidenced from this fact that the teacher professional development should be based on an approach that would help teachers bring change in teaching and learning contexts in the real classroom situations. Furthermore, TPD should help them look into the opportunities for offering their students engaging and relevant instruction that would eventually help students become independent critical and creative learners, freeing them from the tutelage of their teachers.
Indeed, there are various opportunities and challenges in TPD. Our valued contributors for this September issue have focused on the issues, opportunities, and challenges of TPD in Nepalese ELT context in general and their own teaching and learning context in particular. The first blog entry by Pramod Kumar Sah entitled ‘Putting old wine in a new bottle’: A context of Nepalese EFL teachers’ professional development’ critically examines the situation of Nepalese EFL teachers’ professional development through a small scale survey of Nepalese EFL teachers. He makes a critique of present TPD in Nepalese ELT context analogous to putting old wine in a new bottle. Mr. Sah, therefore, urges for the need of professional development that would rather bring in changes in all aspects of EFL teaching and learning contexts for quality outcomes in students’ learning.
In the second post, Chiranjivi Baral, an M.Phil scholar and visiting faculty at Kathmandu University presents his idea about ‘Self-study teacher research’ as a significant tool for teachers’ professional development. In his intriguing and thought-provoking article, he has attempted to explore “self-study teacher research” as a new option for TPD against the traditional notion of what teachers’ professional development means and those traditional options for teachers professional development i.e., teacher training, mentoring, observation, supervision so on and so forth.
Sangeeta Joshi in her third post on ‘Peer Observation’ concentrates on the significance of peer observation in English language classroom and also as a useful tool for personal and professional development. She has shared her own experience of doing peer observation at her school without any guidelines and directions about it. Here, she argues that adequate trainings about the procedures of observation, peer observation and collaboration between and among teachers are essential prerequisites for the effective implementation of peer observation as a tool for teacher professional development or it may lead to a disastrous situation.
Likewise, the post by Dr. Laxman Gnawali discusses the instrumental role that institutions could play in helping teachers for their professional development and bringing change in teaching learning contexts of the institutions at large. Dr. Gnawali provides various examples of institutional arrangements for creating conducive environment for effective teacher professional development of EFL teachers. Similarly, Mandira Adhikari in her blog entry recounts her own professional journey of conducting classroom observation and providing constructive feedback to her observee. She admits that the activity has been fruitful for both observer and an observee for their professional development.
Chandani Pant shares her reflective account of her attendance at the 8th International SLELTA conference held in Colombo, Srilanka. She narrates her experience presenting a paper at the conference about her experience of teaching drama, stories along with co-teaching experience and relates it to her own professional development. Umes Shrestha in his entry humorously presents three minor events that relate to his journey of learning English to understanding subtle nuances of English language in general and ELT in particular. He admits these various phases of learning English language have helped him become a better ELT professional.
Dear readers, you are advised to have a look on the teacher’s confession section of the blog compiled and managed by our esteemed colleague, Umes Shrestha. In this month, we have Kishor Parajuli, the Secretary of NELTA Makwanpur chapter to share his confessional story of how he learned English and eventually became a teacher of English.
Here is a list of the contents incorporated in this September issue of the NELTA Forum and are hyperlinked for ease!
- ‘Putting old wine in a new bottle’: A context of Nepalese EFL teachers’ professional development by Pramod Kumar Sah
- Self-study Teacher Research as a Tool for Teacher’s Professional Development by Chiranjivi Baral
- Teachers’ Professional Development Through Peer Observation in English Language Classrooms by Sangeeta Joshi
- Institutional Arrangement for EFL Teacher Professional Development by Dr. Laxman Gnawali
- Observation and Feedback in Professional Development: A Travelogue by Mandira Adhikari
- My Experience of 8th International SLELTA Conference: Drama, Stories, Co-teaching, and More by Chandani Pant Bhatt
- Three Lessons that I Learned Outside the Classroom by Umesh Shrestha
We would like to extend our appreciation to all the valued contributors for their articles. We would like to encourage our readers to read, comment, share, thereby creating healthy discussion and debate in ELT scholarship.