Teacher Development: Concept and Processes

Gond Art 1

Teachers are indispensable to the educational process. Changes in schools, classroom processes and student learning depend on teachers and what they do.

It is important to empower teachers and ensure they have the space to reflect and lear. But current pre-service teacher education processes are marked by an absence of dialogue and reflection. In-service teacher education tends to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach and focuses on subject matter and methods of pedagogy. The more personal aspects of teacher development, such as identity, agency, autonomy, accountability and socialisation, often go missing. 

This course is bilingual.

Course objectives

  1. To build an understanding of the process of teacher development.
  2. To examine related concepts of teacher identity, socialisation, agency, autonomy and accountability, and teaching as a profession.
  3. to derive principles for planning teacher professional development.
  4. To engage with some illustrations of activities designed to support teacher professional development.

The course is intended for persons working with teachers.

The course facilitates reflective dialogue among participants through engaging participants with readings, case studies, videos and short films. A digital compendium containing the resources used in the programme, and resources of both historical and contemporary relevance to teacher education, will be shared by participants at the end of the programme. These are meant for reading and reflection by participants, and to provide them with additional perspectives.

Understanding pre-service teacher education

The initial stage of development of a teacher is the pre-service teacher education programme. This unit will focus on the desirable processes and outcomes of a pre-service teacher education programme through a personal narrative of a student teacher. The reading will be scaffolded with questions intended to draw out the concepts of teacher professional identity and teacher knowledge base, and how they are developed during pre-service teacher education. A brief description of the current reality of pre-service teacher education will also be part of the unit, which will be used to emphasize that the teacher’s development continues while in-service, and that teacher development is a continuum comprising both pre- and in-service teacher education.

Development of a professional identity

This unit will take forward the concept of teacher professional identity. The meaning of profession’ will first be discussed, and then the idea of teaching as a professional activity will be examined. Through reference to the article used in Unit 1 and extracts from relevant readings, participants will further examine the professional identity of a teacher and its development. Participants will be helped to understand the relationship between teacher professional identity and teacher agency, and how teacher autonomy is of relevance only in the presence of teacher professional identity.

Meeting a beginning teacher: Socialization into the teaching profession

This unit will use a case study to examine how a teacher who is just entering the profession is socialized into the existing norms of both behavior and teaching, thus leading to the perpetuation of existing practices. It will help participants examine the teacher from the perspective of the larger ecosystem in which she exists. The need for a strong professional identity will be re-emphasized, and the concept of teacher accountability will be examined as demonstrated by the teacher in consonance with the influence of school leaders, functionaries, peers and the community. Teacher accountability and autonomy will be presented as two sides of the same coin.

A historical view of the teacher’s ecosystem

This unit will take forward the discussion of the previous unit to understand how the current ecosystem in which the teacher operates has evolved. The current status of the teacher will be understood as a result of historical approach towards dealing with teachers and their development. The concepts discussed so far will be revisited in light of this perspective.

Meeting in-service teachers: teacher agency in action

This unit will introduce participants to three teachers through case studies who are exercising their agency. They will examine the factors that helped the teachers behave as they did, in contrast to the beginning teacher. Participants will also be able to see’ teacher agency and accountability in action, besides being able to understand teacher autonomy more deeply. The unit so far have discussed teachers in different stages of development. The next unit will consolidate these stages through a theoretical perspective.

Stages of teacher development and associated developmental needs

With few exceptions, literature on teacher development speaks of the stages of development of practicing teachers as being survival (including transition from pre to in-service teacher education), consolidation, renewal and maturity. An extract from a seminal reading will be shared to facilitate discussion around stages of teacher development with reference to the case studies discussed so far, and also the type of support teachers need in each stage. This will help consolidate the discussions and draw the attention of participants to their role in supporting teacher development.

Principles to inform professional development of teachers

The participants will be supported in synthesizing the discussions so far into takeaways for their work. This will be done through helping them derive principles to inform professional development of teachers. Their sharing and reflections on the programme so far will be used to share principles on which our work is based. Next, they will be shown illustrations of these principles in action through examples of professional development activities conducted with different approaches.