Professional standards are means by which the professional can provide professional leadership concerning issues of quality in teaching and learning which are defined by a professional body. Normally the professional standards of teachers are under the section of the ministry of education and they ensure that teachers or educators are properly credentialed and provide technical assistant to school districts, teachers and college administration in the area of teacher’s certification.
Its mission is to provide quality services towards the certification of the educators. This in turn ensures that teachers are qualified in their area of teaching and that they have a mastery of the content. The professional standards for the teachers are generic in nature, defining knowledge, skills and ability that should apply to all teachers in the system of education and they are set to celebrate, articulate and support the complex and varied nature of a teacher’s work. They describe what teachers need to know and provides relevant and worthwhile learning experiences for individuals and groups of students in schools hence equipping the young people for future enabling them to contribute to a socially, economically and culturally vibrant society
Purpose of professional standards are; to provide a platform under which teachers can identify their professional development and drive their continuous learning and development, informs the program development for pre-service education, represents the aspiration of the teaching profession, teachers use the professional standards to device and implement learning and development plans, teachers normally use selected standards for reflections when; reviewing student learning and teaching practice, when formulating teaching goals and objectives, to strengthen teaching practice, to establish personal learning and development plans, monitoring their achievement of personal learning and developmental goals. The ministry of education and the school management should always ensure that the standards are valuable and useful to teachers. The standard supports and empowers teachers to identify and exert influence within their profession, system and schools by pursuing personal and team professional learning and strengthened practice. Professional standards encompass all aspects of teachers’ work thus it supports reflection and development for individuals and teams of teachers. Finally it also offers an important guide for the individuals who seek to join the teaching service
How standards ensure teacher quality
The standards aim at capturing what it is that highly accomplished teachers know and can do. Professional development plays a central role in enhancing his quality. Teacher quality is an ongoing, multi-dimensional process that cannot be determined by certification or recertification. The standards ensure that teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach them to children that they will understand how children learn and what to do when they are having difficulties; and that they will be able to use effective teaching methods for those who are learning easily as well as those who have special needs. Through the assessment and evaluation of teachers also improves the quality of education provided by an individual teacher. The standards thus prepare teachers with deep knowledge of the content areas they teach and with solid understanding of learning, teaching, curriculum, assessment and the use of technology such as information technology in teaching of science subjects such as mathematics among other things. The standards also improve the quality of teachers’ preparation which intern assist in improving the quality of the teacher. (Mullen, 2005)
Components, Trends and Characteristics of Teacher’s Professional Standards
Structure flexibility and innovative learning experiences for individuals and groups
This is a professional standard that covers the necessities for establishing learning goals based on appropriate course documentation, curriculum frameworks and school policy. This is achieved through; relevant state and school curriculum documents are read and interpreted to identify learning goals and assessment criteria which are established through consultation with colleagues and negotiation with students and other stakeholders. Analyses and incorporates information about students in the design of learning experience which is characterized by information on the background prior learning , learning needs, learning styles and special learning requirements of the individuals and groups of students, educational purpose, and information on the learning requirements of the individuals and groups of students.
Plan for and support students with their individual learning needs; information on the individual learning needs of students that includes- disabilities, learning difficulties and gifted students- is collected and analyzed to identify learning requirements, learning strategies are devised that ensures the participation of these students and to account for their personal circumstances, prior learning , and language, literacy and numerical skills. Plan and organize the delivery of learning experiences; learning experiences are planned and organized (to reflect the learning goals, the learning requirements of the individuals and groups of students and the developmental, holistic and experimental nature of learning),learning resources are identified, evaluated and selected according to learning goals, students needs, learning environment, availability of competence and support and constraints such as budget and time; learning experience are implemented in accordance with education and school policies and procedures that takes in to account teachers legal tasks. Individual and group management’s strategy is implemented to attain learning goals, ensure students contribution in learning and administer unsuitable behavior. (Mullen, 2005)
Review and evaluate learning experience: learning experiences are evaluated by obtaining relevant information on student progress; feedback from the students, parents, paraprofessionals and other contributors are used to assess learning experiences;
Contribute to language, literacy and numeracy development
This standard covers the necessities for monitoring facilitating, and assessing the growth of students’ language, literacy and numeracy skills through the use of a broad range of teaching and learning activities and across all curriculum areas. (Thornton, 2004)
It determines students’ learning requirements in language literacy and numeracy development to inform the planning and implementation of learning experiences that are characterized by
- Students background, characteristics and learning needs
- Strategies for assessing students’ language, literacy and numeracy requirements
- The results of evaluation processes
- Learning plans
Integrates language and literacy development across all curriculum areas that is indicated by
- Learning goals and plans that articulate the language and literacy skills in the curriculum
- Language, literacy knowledge and skills required in the curriculum area
- Teaching and learning approaches and resources
- Learning experiences that include explicit teaching of the language and literacy skills that are necessary for achieving learning results
- Student language use that is connected to literacy and subject area knowledge through speaking, viewing, reading and writing activities.
Integrates numeracy development across all curriculum areas and monitor and evaluate students’ language, literacy and numeracy development.
Construct intellectually challenging learning experiences
According to Thornton (2004) this standard covers the requirements for planning and implementing rationally challenging learning experiences. It involves constructing experiences that help students examine the key ideas behind major issues and problems formulate and justify opinions and apply higher-order thinking skills to analyses issues, develop understandings and solve problems. It is characterized by
- Topics, issues and problems that are relevant to students
- Teaching and learning strategies
- Learning environment
- Opportunities created for students
- Learning experiences
- Support and directions provided to the student
Construct appropriate learning experiences that connect with the world beyond school
It covers the necessities for planning and implementing learning experiences that build on students’ former knowledge, life experiences, and welfare; creates linkages between key curriculum areas; and formulate connections between school programs and the world beyond the school. It is characterized by
- Accurate and the relevant information on students’ prior knowledge, life experiences, and interests
- Analysis of information on students prior knowledge, life experiences and interest
- Examination of significant ideas and concepts that have the power to develop students’ understanding of themselves and their world
- Planning and implementation of learning experiences
- Identification, evaluation and incorporation of community-based learning resources in-school programs
- Identification, evaluation and incorporation of learning partnership that involves the school, business, and community
- Creation of opportunities for students to demonstrate enterprising behaviors in contexts within and beyond the school.
Construct inclusive and participatory learning experiences
It covers the necessities to design and implement learning experiences that are inclusive, acknowledge and value difference, and allow students to demonstrate personal, group and community responsibility. (Mullen, 2005) It is characterized by
- The analysis of school policies related to equal education opportunity
- Planning and implementation of learning experiences
- Employment and selection of a broad range of teaching and learning strategies as well as resources essential to all students
- Information of the student and their families that assist in establishing learning goals, identifying the needs of the student etc
- Learning experience
Integrate information and communication technologies to enhance student learning
This standard covers the requirements for planning, implementing and monitoring teaching and learning strategies that integrate a range of information and communication technologies to promote and enhance student learning. (Berger, 2004) It is characterized by
- Creation of learning experiences in which students can actively use information and communication technologies to organize research, interpret, analyze, communicate and represent knowledge
- Evaluation of the effectiveness of teaching and learning approaches based on the information and communication technologies.
- The use of information and communication technologies in the evaluation and management of information on student learning
Assess and report on student learning
It covers the need for planning and conducting evaluation, giving responses to students, reporting on student learning and using the outcomes of student assessment to notify program planning.
- Establishment of learning goals and evaluation criteria
- Plan for evaluation of student learning
- Collection and use of several sources of evidence in making of judgments about student learning
- Communication of student progress to students, parents and other authorities.
- Use of assessment results to guide program planning, delivery and assessment.
Support the social development and participation of young people
This standard covers the requirements for establishing learning environments that support and help students to develop self-esteem, build constructive relations with others and assessing and planning their personal futures. It is characterized by;
- Support is given to student in order to develop their personal identity, self-esteem and appositive image
- Guidance is offered to students in order to develop relations and empathy with others
- Construction of learning experience in which students assess and plan their personal future(Berger, 2004)
Create safe and supportive learning environments
It is a standard that covers the requirements for establishing learning environments that engage all students in focused learning experiences promote constructive relations among teachers and students and facilitate students to administer their own learning and behavior successfully. Their character involves;
- Creation of safe learning environments based on mutual trust and respect and that provides social support for student achievement
- Implementation of student management strategies which enhances learning and responsive behavior among students
Build relationships with the wider community
As noted by Ingersoll (2002a) this entails the requirements for communicating and liaising effectively with families, caregivers, and business, industry, and community agencies; for linking these groups in student learning; and for effectively promoting the school, its goals and achievements. It is characterized by
- establishment and maintenance of the relationship among families, caregivers, and industry and community agencies
- Establishment of learning environment that acknowledges the values and priorities of the students’ families, culture and communities.
- Promotion of the school and public education in the community.
Contribute to professional teams
This standard covers the requirements for the teacher to be energetically occupied in collaborating and sharing with other workers to provide the superlative learning outcomes for students. (Ingersoll, 2004) It is characterized by;
- Establishment and implementation of procedures that meet personal work-related goals and priorities.
- Teamwork among the teaching personnel
Commit to professional practice
Entails the requirements for reﬂecting critically on professional practice, establishing focused learning goals, planning and undertaking learning, and development and participating in the extended professional community, it is characterized by
- Professional practices
- Participation in school governance
- Ethical accountability. (Ingersoll, 2004)
Reflective practice is a term often used in education pedagogy which was a concept that was introduced by Donald Schon in 1987. It is a continuous process from a personal perspective, by considering critical incidents within one’s life’s experiences. In education, it refers to the process of the educator studying his or her own teaching methods and determining what works best for the students. (Ingersoll, 2004)
Benefits of reflective practices
The main advantage of reflective practice for teachers is a deeper understanding of their own teaching style and ultimately, greater effectiveness as a teacher. Other specific benefits include the validation of a teacher’s ideals, beneficial challenges to tradition, the recognition of teaching as artistry, and respect for diversity in applying theory to classroom practice. By gaining a better understanding of their own individual teaching styles through reflective practice, teachers can improve their effectiveness in the classroom. (Berger, 2004)
Consequences of reflective practice
First, a reflective practice is data-driven which makes it a more suitable way for evaluating our knowledge and skills. In order to reflect, one has gathered information and data from multiple sources. Reviewing data from sources other than just our own self-assessment produces more perfect and applicable pictures of our developed skills and abilities while revealing the areas for sustained growth.
Second, a reflective practice leads to an individual, precise, well-defined professional development plan. When we rely on goal-setting with our immediate supervisor, we often end up with ill-defined goals or ones that really aren’t the next steps needed in our growth. Without a reflective practice we sometimes jump over some vitally important skill–and knowledge-building stages.
Third, it influences the improvement of student success through the recognition of truly authentic areas of strengths. When we are aware of our skill and knowledge strengths, we use them most efficiently. (Ingersoll, 2004)
Finally, a reflective practice leads to innovative practices through the continuous process of setting and attaining goals. New challenges prohibit a stagnating practice or maintaining the status quo. One can’t stand still if one is always striving to attain goals. New goals mean innovative practices, because the reflective administrator seeks out practices that will continue to move her practice forward.
So, reflective practice benefits educators, students, parents, colleagues and community members as well as the school district as a whole.
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Thornton, H. J. (2004). What can we learn about retaining teachers from PD teachers’ voices? Middle School Journal, 35(4), 5 – 12.