My Thinking in Regards to My Own Teaching Career

Table of Content

Introduction This essay seeks to focus on two main concepts that have influenced my thinking in regards to my own teaching career. My personal interest in the two concepts have opened up a window of opportunity for me to critically evaluate the overlapping influences that have impacted my teaching as a new born lecturer in adult education.

First; I will evaluate the concept of an “Expert teacher” and secondly; I will compare and contrast the values underpinning “Critial Reflection” and its relation to the notion of expert teacher as held and practiced in the context I have worked in as an Early Childhood lecturer in the Tonga Institute of Education. The notion of an expert teacher has a strong influence on my own personal belief, mainly because I don’t necessary agree with the concept itself and its relation to teacher performances.

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My own personal belief has lead me to question wheather the concept of an “expert teacher” should really be acknowledged as a concept that deeply defined varies quality we see in teachers. Thus, it does not convinced us that being an expert indicates quality to practice. However, this course has given me an oppoutunity to uncover many findings and researches that will help me understand more deeply this conflict but rather interesting concept.

In fact, there are number of researchers who have attempted to define the word “Expert teacher”, and in one way or another have tried to analyse pieces that will focus on wider dimensions that prioritise additional models that will successfully bring out the true definition of an expert teacher. Grasping the concept means in its totality is not easy and I feel that teachers will often be happy with a good working definition that meet their immediate needs as well as their students.

In saying that , I strongly believe that we cant ignore that the notion of expert teacher vary from context to context depending on the values, philosophical and political beliefs and meanings of each context. On the other hand, each and everyone of us have our own definition , thus many pieces of a large puzzle must be assembeled individually by each person wishing to become an expert teacher . This include applying knowledge and careful reflection to assemble the puzzle. The word expert is defined in the Encarta Dictionary (English U.

K ) “as somone with a great deal of knowledge about, or skill, training or experience in a particular field or activity”. To me, this definition does not necessary say much about making a difference in someone’s life or leading a person to be successful . Of course it looks at a very skillfull and knowledegable person, but don’t really admit that these skills and knowledge should be shared and passed on to others. However, I believe that the word “expert” is a term that must be defined carefully to embrace differences and accounts in any field espacially teacher performances and how they cater for their students learning needs.

If it is not, then the term assumes a global definition that might be centred on teachers own title, qualification and proffesionalism, and not so much on how successfully they help and influence their learners to achieve their goals. A more reliable definition of an expert teacher has been shared by Allyn and Bacon (2002) in their presentation. They veiw an expert teacher as a person who have a broad base of knowledge and experience, who can motivate students and manage their behaviour and most importantly being a creative and reflective teacher. This definition sees an expert teacher as something that evloves over time.

It develops many qualities that enable teachers to work productively and efficiently in the classroom environment. I have personally picked the following definitional models due to two main convincing ideas and views that have shaped my own personal belief about what really is an expert teacher. Firstly, I truly believe that the notion of an expert teacher is contextual. Secondly, teacher’s own personal commitment and connectedness to their own self, their learning environment and pedagogy must be acknowledged as the keys to becoming an expert teacher.

Pressely and McCormick (1995)define an expert teacher by promoting characteristics and additional elements of the ideal expert teacher, such as being well organised, alert to classroom events, concern for individuals strategies and command of subject matter delivery. Basically, Pressely and McCormick’s models of the expert teacher focused greatly on how well teachers organised their planning and teaching, how they value students individual learning abilities and most importanly how well they deliver subject areas.

From a caring percepective , Agne (1992) proposes a higher rank of quality teacher model based on a teacher’s personal belief system, which includes a teacher’s efficacy, management levels and strategies. Agne’s model mirror the caring attitude of teachers and their own personal qualities. An expert teacher must have a quality of knowledge of own self or in another word self connected, and this should be diplayed at all times in the classroom and in the working context. In fact, Fenrick(2006) looks from a contextual lense which argues that expect teachers think and act differently in different context.

Fenrick acknowledges that the teaching of adults is situated practice, contextual and can’t be generalized . She made an important argument that while we work in a very complex system, we dont necessary have to be imprisioned within that ecology. Ecological relations she believes “have to do with attunement to biological, as well as social, political and cultural interconnectivity” (p,9). Expertise requires understanding of the context and ecology within which we teach , unless we know and understand the social political and cultural context we work in, we will find it hard to become effective let alone expert teachers.

Fenrick is trying to suggest that every context is different and that the attributes required to become expert teachers are also different. While I strongly agree with Frenrick’s contextual view , I also believe that the individual should be driven by his or her own level of self commitment . Palmer (1997) in fact, placed a strong emphasis on the individual’s level of connectedness. He strongly stated that “ good teaching cannot be reduced to techniques;good teaching comes from the identity and intergrity of the teacher”.

It is the teacher’s ability to connect with his or her students and to connect them well with the subjects, and be willing to make it available and vulnerable in the service of learning. Palmer believes that we teach who we are and offers a threefolded model that will characterise an effective teacher . First , Palmer pointed out that the subjects we teach are as large and complex as life, therefore teaching requires a command of content that always eludes our grasp. Secondly, the students we teach are larger than life and even more complex.

To see them whole and perhaps respond to them wisely, requires a fusion of wisdom. Lastly, Palmer aknowledges that teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from ones inwardness. This is basically the process of knowing your self and trying to see your students more clearly. When teachers dont know themselves , they are most likely to see their students through a dark glass, and sadly when a teacher cannot see the students clearly he or she cannot teach them well. One of Palmer’s strong arguments is that “ We need to open a new fontier in our exploration of expert teaching which is the inner landscape of a eacher’s life. To chart that lanscape fully, three valuable pathways must be taken, intellectual, emotional and spiritual and none can be ignored”. Palmer’s three valuable pathways have become imortant tools in supporting the importance of the teacher to connect with his or her own self and inner landscape of life. However “ Community of Practice” theory , has become my own personal ideal definitional model of what makes an expert teacher . I believe that not only the community as a whole will help you connect with your own self, but it will help you to better understand the context you work in.

It offers a social theory of learning which acknowledges that we become who we are through interaction with other human beings. As Wenger et al 2002 in Laksov, Mann and Dahlgren (2008 p121) stated “ people belonging to a community of practice are not just a group of people, or a web of interactions. They are a group who share an overall view of the domain in which they practice a sense of belonging and mutual commitment to this”. I believe in teachers and students learning together in a community of learning by trusting and respecting each other’s expertise.

Basically, being an expert teacher in the Tongan context is viewed as a skill that can be developed and learned over time, as long as you are willing to but them into good pratice . It is something however that you can learn from your co-workers, adopt from your parents, or just learning from own experiences. In my own experience as one of the new tutors in the Tonga Institute of Education, being a first time lecturer was not a challange for me due to the full support I recieved from each and everyone of the TIOE community.

Therefore the notion of the community of practice has become the best model for me during my journey as an adult educator. In this community of practice context I was able to learn from more experienced lecturers, learn from the Ministry of education staff as well as parents and family memebers in Tonga . I was able to learn the true meaning of being Tongan, being christian and being a good role model who leads students to be successful not only in the field of early childhood but also in other areas such as the Tongan art and dance, music, and the Tongan history.

Palmer’s arguments strongly echoed my own experience in the Tonga Institute of Education. An expert teacher in the Tongan context is seen to be someone who must be shaped by three internurtuing ways of being “ Being Tongan, Being Christian as well as an effective and inspirational wise role model for others to follow. Basically, Tonga ECE Diploma Framework (2007) believes that an expert teacher is someone who is best equipped to motivate and support student’s learning and can make their beliefs about the primary purposes of education explicit and teach in ways that fit those purposes.

In order to do this ,teachers must have a rich repertoire of teaching methods and skills from which they can choose those most likely to lead to the intended outcome for particulur students in particular circumstances. I can honestly say that my experience in Tonga has made me an expert teacher in the eyes of the Tongan society, but an effective teacher in my own eyes. Because of my being Tongan , being christian as well as having a qualification in the field of early childhood education, I was looked at in Tonga as an expert in the field of early childhood education.

Early Childhood was not an area that was widely acknowledged in the Tongan Government . However the Tonga Ministry of Education took the very first step to publicly acknowledged how important early childhood education is for the future of Tonga. Because I was seen in Tonga as the expert in the field of early childhood education, I was expected by many people to be the one to make a difference for the early childhood education .

Community expectations as well as my own ambition and interest in this area had driven me to developed the ECE Policy Framework , ECE Diploma programme and established the first pilot early childhood diploma class in the Tonga Institute of Education. To me personally, without the help of ECE teachers, Ministry of education, parents and communities, I would not have achieved my goals and aims for the early childhood sector in Tonga. Therefore I felt strongly that I was an effective teacher rather than an expert teacher. Strong (2002) defines the concept of an effective teacher as someone who is having a strong influence on the students.

I felt that I was having a strong influence not only on our students but have developed strong relationships with stakeholders, communities, parents and the society of Tonga. This great experience has guided me also to believe that teaching is shaped and informed by the individual’s own attitudes, beliefs, values, skills, knowledge and own learning styles that in turn influenced by the community, social, cultural and environment within which the individual works which is describes in the Tonga ECE framework (2007) as a “sharing identity”.

Being a lecturer in adult education has also led me to believe that diversity is a fact of life when teaching adults. Our students have diverse backgrounds and characteristics and no doupt in my mind that diversity will in one sense or another affects our teaching if we dont know how to become expert teachers in such a situation. An important tool that an expert teacher must be used to cater for diverse learners is to become a reflective practitioner.

Bold and Chambers (2009) called this process as learning from others experiences by getting to know their beliefs, values, backgrounds and abilities. A relational model of teaching and learning is a priority for the teaching staff at the Tonga Institute of Education. A model that have encouraged critical reflection in my working community in Tonga is characterised by four integrated ways of connectedness. Norsworthy (2008) see this process as a process of deliberate reflection or learning from experiences which is not reduced to a cognitive rational knowledge making process.

Rather it is held to be a very personal process situated which involves intuitive and emotional activity. This process requires that we step back from our everyday teaching practice and ask how that practice came to be. An expert teacher must learn to critically reflect . I was foutunate to work in such an environment that the process of everyday group reflection was very effective. As I have mentioned earlier, this community of practice made me a confident person. To me personally group reflection worked better for me than if I had to work and reflect on my own.

This is a transformative power that works effectively in the Tongan context. Conclusion This essay has enlightend me to accept the notion of an expert teacher as a concept that will challange me to become a reflective practioner by continueing to work as a community of practice, but at the same time connect with my own self so that I may become an effective teacher. I would like to conclude this essay by looking at Norsworthy’s (2008) transformative power of being a reflected, connected and critical consideration.

I believe if we apply the same concepts to evaluate strategies to be used with diversity of learners, then we are most likely to become expert teachers in any situation. Firstly: is the connection with your own self which is an awareness that knowing self and others is central to teaching the students. This is the process of teachers analysing their own traits by making sense of situations and checking their insights against prior experience. Gallego, Hollingsworth and Whitenack, 2001 p,243) Secondly ;is the relational connectedness and this holds relationships between the teacher and the learners as vital. Basically, this is the process of the “Why” “How” and recognising what works in one situation may not work in another situation or in another concept “Constructivist teaching” (Burden and Byrd 2007 p14). Thirdly; is pedagogical connectedness and this strand focuses on concepts related to the curriculum and subject being taught .

Last but not the least: is the contextual connectedness which is the programme approach as socio cultural and knowing that learning is more than an individual construction (Fleer, 2002; Fogoff, 1998). Thus, and expert teacher means wisdom in action. Bibiography Agne, K. J. (1992). Caring: the expert teachers edge. Educational Horizons, 70 (3), 120-124. Pressley, M. , & McCormick, C. (1995). Cognition, teaching and assessment. New York: Harper Collins College Publishers Sternberg, R. J. & Horvath, J. A. 1995). A prototype view of expert teaching. Educational Researcher, 24(6), 9-17 Strong, J. H. (2002). Qualities of Effective Teachers: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 131 pgs. Alexandria, VA. Publication, Number: 129. P. Allyn & Bason (2002). Becoming an Expert Teacher Becoming an Expert Student . The big picture. Microsoft PowerPoint. Norsworthy, B. (2008). Being and becoming reflective in teaching education (unpublished doctoral thesis) : School of Education, University of Wa

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