6 Focusing on your teachers

Figure 2 Your teachers will follow your example of professional development.

Your attitude to your own learning will directly impact on the attitude of your teachers to their professional development. Seeing your growth in skills and readiness to change will encourage them to change and grow themselves. Your greatest resource is your teachers, and you need to provide the opportunity for them to become the best teachers they can possibly be. You need to expect and hope that they will become better teachers than you!

You might like to look at some videos of school leaders talking about leading teachers.

The TESS-India Teacher Development OERs are tools for you to help your teachers to learn new approaches and try out ideas for different ways of teaching. They position the teacher as ‘learner’, recognising that they will develop their competence in the tools and practices of the profession through actively engaging with the process of teaching and learning, and working collaboratively with colleagues.

Learning to be a teacher is a complex and a lifelong process. Various frameworks for conceptualising teacher learning and development have been suggested, but one that is particularly helpful identifies six areas of knowledge of an accomplished teacher (Shulman and Shulman, 2007):

  • vision
  • motivation
  • understanding
  • practice
  • reflection
  • community.

These are explored in Table 2.

Table 2 Comments on features of an accomplished teacher (adapted from Shulman and Shulman, 2007).
VisionGood teachers should have a clear vision of what they are trying to achieve, underpinned by a set of beliefs about learners, knowledge and learning. They should be willing to reflect on and adapt their vision in the light of experience.
MotivationGood teachers should be motivated to improve and develop.
UnderstandingGood teachers need to know what to do and how to do it. They need to know the subjects that they have to teach and how to teach effectively.
PracticeGood teachers recognise that practice is complex and develops over time. They know how to enact the theories that they have learnt in the classroom. Good teachers will learn from the experience of trying different approaches.
ReflectionGood teachers reflect on what they are doing and learn from experience. Without reflection, teachers lack the capacity to change.
CommunityGood teachers recognise that they are part of a community that shares the same objectives and values, and will seek support from and provide support for the community.

Pause for thought

  • How do these areas of knowledge apply to the teachers in your school?
  • How many of your teachers would you describe as good?
  • Looking at your staff as a whole, which areas need the most development?

The TESS-India OERs support all these areas of teacher learning. The OERs challenge underlying assumptions and motivate teachers to try new approaches in their classroom. As a school leader, you are in a position to support your teachers by providing encouragement and creating opportunities for them to work together.

5 Enacting your Learning Plan – the school leader as enabler