• Teacher Career Development

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    Wikipedia® states that the study of career development looks at how individuals manage their careers within and between organizations and how the organizations structure the career progress of their members. This is alluding to the fact that professionals and organizations are in a partnership. This definition fails to mention the importance and influence of colleagues throughout the lifetime of a career. It is the freedom and support that is given to the teacher by her employer and colleagues throughout the lifetime of her career that can create the feelings of happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment, to not have this can lead to a career that is discarded only to search for something that may not be as rewarding.

    So what happens to teachers when the relationship between the organization and themselves is put into a “high-stakes” assessment environment? In a 2004 study written about teachers’ reactions to constant assessment it found that the “implementation, fidelity, and sustainability of new teaching methods” had negative effects. In other words, teachers were not given the freedom to assess the students by their own methods; new methods were not explored so students could learn from material that the teacher and/or students felt was pertinent. The teachers were told to focus on the exams first and the students second. Having taken the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course it was constantly mentioned that the teacher’s job was to help the student practice and improve their skills in the classroom and examinations were only one of the tools used to inform the student of their progress.

    The TEFL course also mentions that if the teacher is ever in doubt of what they should do they can go to their colleagues for help and advice. In a 2007 study the relationship between colleagues indicated that these interactions triggered “professional development in several ways:

    (a) enhancing reflection on teaching practice, (b) establishing a professional discourse community, (c) raising the standards for teaching performances, and (d) facilitating collaboration.” This shows that the relationship between colleagues gives a feeling of support, confidence, and even friendly competition to become a better teacher.

    The camaraderie is only one piece of the puzzle that contributes to a teacher’s satisfaction in her career. In a 2007 article it was hypothesized that the more control they had in their job and the development classes resembled the typical teaching culture in classrooms, then they were confident in becoming better teachers. The findings demonstrated that the factors affecting teachers’ satisfaction with development programs was related to the desire to “maintain instructional processes ‘close to home’”, and to shape them according to their needs and expectations. Proving that development classes focused on an individual’s learning and held over a long period of time was beneficial to the student, which also happens to be the teacher.

    The teacher is always a student for she is constantly: learning new techniques; taking development classes; going on abroad sabbaticals which expose her to new teaching methods; reading new books and articles to learn about what is going on with the teaching industry; or simply searching the internet for new ideas to put into her lesson plan. In the end it all comes down to the relationships with her employer and colleagues and the freedom and support that she is given in order to fulfill her feelings of happiness and satisfaction as a teacher, this way she can have a career that is not abandoned for something that may not be as rewarding.

    Mariana Kuznetsov


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