Up-To-Date Teachers

Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardour and attended to with diligence.”  – Abigail Adams.

In order for teachers to remain effective over the years, they must keep up-to-date with constant changes in educational research, development and policy.  There are frequent changes in curriculum, assessment modalities, and economic realities that affect the teaching and learning environment.  Teachers have to keep pace with these new developments and trends or fall behind, lose their competitive edge and place their students at a disadvantage.

As in other professions, teachers must find the time to practice lifelong learning in their subject areas and pursue continuing professional development (CPD).  They need to keep up-to-date with new pedagogical methods and best practices in their field.  These measures are equally important for inexperienced and veteran teachers.  Time does not stand still and students have differing needs.  Teachers cannot continue to teach the same content in the same way, in every class, from year to year.  The educational context keeps changing.  In other words teachers must keep their subject knowledge, pedagogical skills and communication skills up-to-date on an ongoing basis.

They promote high standards of work and have high expectations for their students.  They should also make it a point to share their new knowledge and skills with colleagues and students so that the whole institution benefits. They can also share with other schools through professional organizations or personal networking.  Everything should be done to enhance student attainment.

There are many ways for teachers to keep their practice up-to-date.  The internet is an invaluable tool in this respect. Enormous amounts of information on any subject are available online.  So is the latest in professional development and communication skills.  Educational technology is there for the taking and teachers can take full advantage of it. Bring it more fully into classroom practice and homework.  Read educational blogs, newsletters, access podcasts, follow webinars and relevant social media pages.  There are also helpful e-books and audio books.  You can create your own personal learning network (PLN) online.

Mentors can be very helpful in helping to keep teachers up-to-date.  They can provide needed information and help to hone your teaching skills.  Teachers should also join or form professional subject organizations and participate in departmental activities that promote excellence and best practices.  Each teacher must read educational literature since you need to locate your practice within appropriate educational theory.

Conferences, seminars, Edcamps, research, and projects also play a definite role in keeping teachers up-to-date. Short courses, upgrades of qualifications or professional training, where necessary, can also increase teacher readiness and effectiveness.

Many educational experts recommend the suggestions given above to keep teachers current with any new developments or requirements.  They also agree that teachers who remain up-to-date increase their expert power. Their students learn more and their colleagues look to them for leadership.  Up-to-date teachers quickly notice any changes in the educational environment and they prepare their students for them in a timely manner.  They are also up-to-date with their daily planning, preparation, curriculum pacing, and record keeping relative to their students.

Time Management – John Adair

” You will never find time for anything.  If you want time you must make it. ”  – Charles Buxton.

” Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today. ”  – Benjamin Franklin.

Time is a precious resource which leaders should use wisely and productively.  John Adair and many other leadership and management theorists agree that one must be able to manage time efficiently if one is to be successful in managing anything else.  In other words good time management is a prerequisite for leaders to keep their people on track and achieve organizational goals.  It has a direct bearing on productivity in the workplace.

Proper time management reduces stress in the workplace and gives everyone more time to complete tasks.  One must never forget the basics: punctuality, regular attendance, a full day’s work for a full day’s pay, and one must be well organized at all times.

Leaders must prioritize objectives and lists of daily tasks to maximize efficiency and productivity.  Important and urgent tasks should be done first; ahead of routine tasks.  Time wasting should be drastically reduced and deadlines should not be missed.  Priorities should be reviewed and changed if there are changes in the work environment or if new information emerges.  Unnecessarily long meetings should be shortened.

In his book How To Manage Your Time: Guildford: Talbot Adair Press, 1987, John Adair listed ten principles of time management which are extremely helpful and relevant in any organizational context.  Here they are:

1.  Develop a personal sense of time.

2.  Identify long-term goals.

3.  Make medium-term plans.

4.  Plan the day.

5.  Make the best use of your best time.

6.  Organize office work.

7.  Manage meetings.

8.  Delegate effectively.

9.  Make use of committed time.

10. Manage your health.

Adair’s ten principles of time management are comprehensive and will deliver increased efficiency, quality, and productivity in any public or private sector enterprise; from a school to a factory.

As one can see from this and the previous three posts in my blog, John Adair presents an integrated system of leadership and management through which effective leaders can be trained and developed.  His ideas contradicted The Great Man Theory of Leadership which was prominent in the 19th century, and which states basically that ” Great Leaders Are Born, and Not Made. ” Interested readers can visit Adair’s website or get hold of his books.

 

Does Professional Training work?

Performance

Performance (Photo credit: chaim zvi)

9/8/13

In educational management and other areas of management, professional training, whether home grown or externally organized, is seen as a reliable way to improve work performance, individual effectiveness and productivity.

As a result, professional training and development have become big business in their own right.  At any given moment large numbers of employees are undergoing training sessions of various types.  Training generally improves work performance.  This has been proved by the measurement of performance gains through pre- and post-training assessments of skills and knowledge in teaching and in many other professions and occupations.  Training should bring about behavioural change in the workplace.

For training to be as effective as possible, it must be designed to be relevant to institutional needs and staff needs.  Staff in training must be able to see benefits from the training and it must be suited to their skill levels.  They also need to see the link between training, better job performance, and increased productivity.

The goal is to achieve as much training transfer as possible.  Training transfer is the application of skills and information learned in training, to the job or workplace.  Trained individuals usually improve their effectiveness and productivity and should be allowed to instruct others in the workplace in order to spread the gains as widely as possible.  Management should allow them to do the things they learned during training or there will be very little transfer of training and much frustration.

In spite of all that is stated above, in some cases professional training may not lead to the hoped for training transfer and improved performance in the workplace.  This may happen if staff morale is too low as a result of unresolved conflict between administration and staff.  It can also occur among individual staff members who display a poor work ethic and negative attitudes to work or low commitment levels, for whatever reason.  Sometimes faulty socialization in staff common rooms or the adoption of personal agendas which are not in accordance with institutional policy may prevent training from having the desired effect.  A few persons may be attracted to training because of the opportunities it offers for promotion and increased salaries rather than through a burning desire to improve their immediate work performance.

For professional training to work optimally, leaders and managers must foster teamwork, practice shared leadership, demonstrate emotional and social intelligence in the workplace and do everything possible to reduce conflict and polarization among staff at all levels.  Staff engagement is vital.