Reward Your Elementary School Students With Great Awards

Reward Your Elementary School StudentsIdeas for Teachers – Creative Rewards For Elementary School Students

Giving awards to elementary age children is a great way to get them to participate in class and love learning. Rewards encourage students to do well on tests and assignments, participate in discussions, use good teamwork, and even help the teachers and other students. Plus, they make the students feel good about themselves. Some teachers use candy or stickers, but there are lots of creative ways to reward students.

Prizes and Passes

One of the most obvious ways to reward your students is with prizes and other incentives. Extra recess time and homework passes are popular options, giving hard-working kids some much needed free time. Other kinds of special passes work too: you can let students eat in the classroom for lunch, play a game during a normal study time, or get to hang out with an adult they admire during recess. Simply doing something different from the usual school day routine is appealing for a lot of kids. Many teachers also use prize boxes, sometimes called “treasure boxes.” Fill it with treasure like playdough, crayon packets, bendy straws, or other little prizes. Students who win a pass to the prize box get to pick out a treasure to keep.

Extra Responsibility

Another way to reward students is to give them more responsibility. That might not sound like much fun to adults, but young students love to feel like they are capable and important. Giving students leadership positions or responsibilities is exciting for the students and easy for the teachers. You can let a student lead the lunch line, choose a class game or activity, help you teach a lesson, draw on the board, deliver something to another class, or complete other small tasks. Rewarded students will gain confidence and learn responsibility.

Encouragement

A straightforward way to reward elementary students is to encourage them. Visuals are especially useful. Spoken praises are nice, but young children are more likely to appreciate something they can see or feel. You can put stickers and smiley faces on assignments or put success stars next to student names on a bulletin board. Sometimes writing a note of praise can be a great encouragement too. After all, students can bring written notes home to their parents, show it to friends, and see good words about themselves every day. Recognizing students during announcements or displaying their projects in the classroom are other ways to show encouragement.

Reward the Whole Class

Awards don’t just have to be for one student. Teachers can also reward the whole class. Classes who behave well as a group — are quiet during study time, use good teamwork, etc. — can enjoy these awards together. Promising elementary students a field trip day or a class day outside will encourage students to work together. Outdoor rewards are especially helpful because kids get fresh air and exercise while they learn. Having a pizza party, watching a movie, dancing to music, or playing a fun class game are great rewards too.

Make It Fun

Whatever rewards you choose, make sure to make it fun. Reward students who work hard by letting them wear their pyjamas to school or doing arts and crafts. Give students points for accomplishing tasks, then let students pick prizes once they reach a certain score. For elementary students, competing for points will be almost as much fun as the prize itself. Some teachers have even tried role playing with students to encourage them to do well. Let your students choose imaginary characters and give that character points when the student does well. Your students will love using their imagination and learning at the same time.

3 Helpful Tips to Teach Grammar for ESL Teachers

Teach Grammar for ESL TeachersTeaching grammar is an imperative element of school education. Without proper grammar, written or spoken words usually lose their exact meaning and much of their value as well. It is a significant part of language to get right for which, teachers take special care on imparting the real importance of it to their students. However, the task becomes much tough to teach in an ESL setting.

One common way is to focus on the different forms and rules and helping students to learn the subject with help of rote memorization. But, for ESL teachers, the process is different as because the target audience treats English as their second language.

Going Out of One’s Comfort Zone

For teaching a topic, one needs to understand the very same. Teachers must know about different parts of sentences, rules and tenses including basics of the subject as well. The process of just running into the classroom and going through a series of answers and exercises is not the ideal way. Mostly, ESL students do not learn English in the same way by which native English speakers learn. So, the ideal job is to help them understand their mistakes, difference between spoken and written grammar and the perfect usage of specific grammar forms.

Learn to Offer Overt Grammar Instruction

Clear instructions help students to learn the language efficiently, however, incorporating more number of communicative activities into the lesson plan will make students get the right grip on the subject. This is so because, mostly people learn from observation, learning and practice. One can break the entire session into manageable sections including; introducing the lesson, showing the way of using it in contextual situations, play interesting games by putting into practical usage.

Never Bore the Students

The subject includes a series of forms and rules; however, there are ways of making the class enjoyable. The primal goal is to allow students to understand the subject and use it for communicative purposes. The teacher can start a game by asking few questions from textbooks or from earlier oral practice sections. While playing the game she can either further introduce several examples relevant to the subject or ask students to come up with own examples.

Facilitate learning is the pivotal thing to do for an ESL teacher. So, providing students with various interesting learning exercises is the ideal task. However, since rules and forms related to grammar are quite tedious, therefore engaging them into the session will help students to learn and instill the lesson properly.

 

Give Your Students A Little Prod

Give Your Students A Little ProdTeaching is a noble profession and what a joy to see students hold our understanding in their eyes. In their success we find our own and so to them you give your all. Words are easier than bold actions. I believe teachers want the best for students and that is the reason for setting behavioral objectives to help learners achieve success in their three domains of learning.The relationship between student’s actual terminal behavior and pupil’s expected terminal behavior is an index of the success or failure of the lesson.

Difficult students challenge us especially when the learner is resistance to change. Why bother when you see students drop out of school. Drop outs feel they have no value when they see no supporting strength coming from others. After all, you were committed to teaching effectively. The blame is shifted on students who failed to do their part. I agree students’ have a personal responsibility to get involved in order to achieve great success. However, from my perspective, learners accomplishment depends on teachers leadership style. How can you tell the difference? Authoritative teachers make learners timid. They believe students can perform under the sanctions of punishment. They use their power to get favor and attention. The consequences on learners is usually devastating. For instance, when I was in secondary school, our chemistry teacher was firm, the kind who never tolerated nonsense. We were whipped for every wrong answers given during lesson. In African education system canning is used to control students and achieve discipline. It was awful especially when asked to balance chemical equations on the blackboard. As a result, I disliked science subjects.

On the other hand, we had a Biology teacher who stimulated the students to unusual efforts. He was able to make us winners. His class was devoid of tension. He considered our feelings and was patient to accommodate our inadequacies. Based on my teaching experience, I can go on and on to give vivid illustrations. Besides, current research studies have proved that a negative correlation exist between corporal punishment and maintaining discipline in schools. Comparatively, there are teachers who play the role of laissez-faire leadership role. A teacher with no authority inadvertently introduce lawlessness and lack of sense of direction.

Alternatively, there are teachers who give students a little push to learn and understand concepts. Like my Biology tutor, hilarious teachers laugh with students and give out encouragement when they make flimsy mistakes. Students are bound to hit rocks and thorns on their path to learning. But with a little pat on their back the barriers are like bouncers for launching forward. I believe learners can remain reactionary with no desire to initiate actions without serious pep-up from the teachers.

With this in mind, the sky is not their limit. At this point, three different things become apparent. These are:

1. Servant teacher leadership style

2. Maintaining quality response to students need

3. Give students correct motivation to boost their confidence.

The basis principle of teaching requires the three elements be adopted and given maximum attention in a teaching-learning environment.Students succes is greater when urged to persevere. I believe the result will be outstanding if they realise they can excel like their peers. Undoubtedly, teachers at all levels can make the teaching profession very attractive. Providing the right leadership style and a little prod is essential.

Above all, I think, no nation can rise above the quality level of its teachers. We need to always pep-up our students. The best teacher is liked and cheerful. Our students success is our success. If they accomplish their academic goals our eternal reward is guaranteed.

Tips to Encourage Positive Behavior in Classrooms

Positive Behavior in ClassroomsOne of the profound challenges that teachers face these days is – classroom behavior. Disruptive behavior results in lost teaching time and un-conducive learning environment. The key to nipping behavioral problems in the bud; is to create a positive environment in classroom.

There are a lot of ways and means to encourage positive behavior in classrooms, but, to begin with – laying a good foundation in pupils is the most important aspect.

Here are some tips and guidelines to bring about positive behavior amongst students.

Perseverance

This is one of the most important regimen which a teacher can deploy to bring about order, discipline and attentiveness in a class. A teacher should resist from conducting a class until there is complete order restored. Persistence is one of the fundamental and effective tools, which a teacher can use to get the class to behave.

Expectations

Students should ideally live up to the expectations of teachers. It is the duty of the teachers to ensure that students behave in a manner appropriate and conducive to learning. Teachers should avoid getting angry at irresponsible or reprehensible behavior of students. Instead, teachers should exude a compassionate outlook to bring about behavioral changes in students.

Consistency

It is the duty and moral obligation of every teacher to recognize, understand and address behavioral problems in students. This has to be done on a consistent and gradual basis. Change cannot be brought about overnight. So, the efforts should be concerted, consistent and focused. Students may find the regimen to be rigorous, but, teachers should be consistent in their efforts to bring about positive change in students.

Visualization

Teachers should have the acumen to envisage teaching challenges that they may encounter in an unruly classroom. Visualizing these challenges and bottlenecks will help the teachers in dealing with unruly students successfully.

Boundaries

Teachers should define a boundary line for every class at the outset. Students should be clear on what areas they can tread and what areas they cannot. Drawing up an analogy to a box, teachers should clearly define what goes inside a box and what should stay outside.

Encourage

A word of appreciation can do wonders. Instead of expressing disappointment, despair or resentment, teachers should try to appreciate good behavior in a class. This can have a positive effect on students who tend to behave badly in a class.

Respect

Respect is a reciprocal phenomenon. To earn respect, teachers should learn to treat students with respect, compassion and dignity.

Choices

Teachers should always provide students with choice. It is incumbent on the students to make the right choice. If students happen to make a bad or wrong choice, they should be prepared to face the consequence of the wrong choice. Likewise, a good choice should be duly appreciated and rewarded.

Voice

Teachers should learn to control the tone and tenor of their voice when they conduct a classroom. The tonal quality of a teacher’s voice can determine how students react or respond. If the voice is calm and soothing, students tend to respond positively. On the other hand, if the voice is harsh, then students are likely to turn repulsive,

Humor

Humor should be an integral part of our lives. We should be courageous enough to admit and laugh at our mistakes. This can act as a counterbalance when you are left facing with an annoying situation.

It is not possible to have a disciplined teaching and learning environment always. It is one thing for the students to know about the rules and another thing to follow and adhere to the rules. But with a little patience and perseverance, a foundation for respect and positive behavior can be laid in a classroom.

A New Perspective on Teaching and Learning

New Perspective on Teaching and LearningHello Friends,

One of the best pieces of advice that I have heard as a teacher was “to be careful not to teach like you were taught.” That was easier said than done. After all, it worked for me and others. However, the time has come to recognize that the teacher is not the only source of information in the classroom. Students learn more than content in the classroom. The teachers also teach more than content. The teacher and the students’ personalities, values and belief systems affect the teaching and learning process. The environment including the advancement and accessibility of technology also play a role in the process.

I recalled as a French teacher in a particular setting, many students preferred Google Translation on their cellular device over the hard copy bilingual dictionary. I would have preferred that they used the dictionary. Why? I am one that values holistic learning. The dictionary is a rich valuable resource; it offers so much more than a translation- and in this case Google translation is sometimes out of context. I realize that it takes more time to look up a word in a dictionary/thesaurus versus Google Translation. My students seemed to value the instantaneous gratification that this platform offers. How do we reconcile the two- my desire for delayed holistic learning and technology endearment and sensible captivation? Well, there is the online dictionary.

The time has come to realize that as teachers we are competing with so many things that are vying for our students’ attention, which inextricably affects their perspective on education and learning. It’s ironic though that in another setting, some students actually used the dictionary in “secret”; they apologized for using it when I took notice. In their justification, I can identify a certain sense of self-imposed expectation that they should have known how to use the particular word. Thus, there were some fear and love surrounding that expectation. Which is greater between the two emotions? As teachers, one of our greatest tasks is to strike a balance between love and fear as it pertains to teaching and learning. Let’s have a discussion. How do you stay aware of what is going on in your classroom underneath the content input/output, pedagogical activities, behaviors, etc. The details are important. I used to journal. What does conscious teaching mean to you? How do you separate the philosophical and practical aspects of teaching? Can they be separated?

 

The Heart Of A Teacher

The Heart Of A TeacherChildren do not choose their school teacher. Teachers do not choose them. Generally, this is true. While many parents attempt to have their children placed in the classroom of a particular teacher, and some teachers try to have themselves placed away from children known to be problematic, mostly, both the children and their teacher size each other up on the first day of school. But, who is a school teacher? A person who seeks the teaching profession does so for a variety of reasons. Women dominate this field of work. Many of them seek the education curriculum in college because they anticipate being mothers. A school can be close to their home, the work hours not so long, and they might tap into a sisterhood of sorts that cooperates with their expected need to care for their own children while they earn an income.

Many of the women who enter this profession stay with it for a long career. It is the profession that they know, plus the income is needed, so it makes sense for them to stick with it. Both women and men enter this line of work out of a long-standing family tradition of teaching. In my family, there has been a teacher in each generation from the late 1800’s to 2013. With a little sadness about it, I tell you that the line is now broken in the next generation of my extended family. Why do I say that? It is because I know that teachers are often far more than subject instructors. For young children, they can be their “other mom.” For children who must endure a broken home, a teacher can be the other mom who completes something in them that they cannot otherwise have. For children of an angry home, their teacher can literally be their best chance to survive childhood. The real value that a teacher provides to children, and to her local community, can be the measure of how great is her heart. There can be far more to a school teacher than her skill to teach English, math, or science.

Many times each day, a teacher must be brave. If they see wrong, they must stand up to the one who does wrong, be that a child or an adult who has wronged a child. They risk their own happiness, their profession, and sometimes their safety when they take a moral stand. The school administration will not always back them even if they are right in their stance, not because the administration is immoral, but because it is political. How noble is this? Take a look in the Christian Bible at the verses in Matthew 18 to see what Jesus said about the importance of children to God.

Ask a child what he or she thinks of their teacher. You will know from their voice if their teacher loves them, cares for them, makes their life happy, and if they have been taught and have learned the knowledge that they need to progress. Many children grow up to become strong, to do great things, lead moral families, and they become pillars of strength in their communities. A great number of these people grew up to become what is good in this world by once being children who were nurtured by the kindness and love that dwelled in the gracious heart of their teacher.

3 Basic Requirements for Teaching English Overseas

Teaching English OverseasTeaching is a great profession. There are very few people who take this profession seriously. There are many people in the world for whom, learning becomes a tough task. They need the right guidance to make their target. The Oriental countries are beautiful, where teaching scope is not limited but is available in plenty. However, many are not aware of the rules and regulations that the countries now follow.

The basic requirements for teaching in these countries are –

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is essential for every aspiring teacher. The degree certifies the teacher to have adequate knowledge about the subject that he or she is applying to teach in these countries. If the degree is from a well-known university, which these countries recognize, then the process becomes easier for the teaching candidates.

Experience Counts in the Orient

Experience is something that you will need to become eligible for teaching in these nations. A relevant experience of two years of teaching will open up a number of opportunities for you. If your experience is longer than the basic need, then the opportunities also become plenty.

First Language English

It is necessary that your first language is English. If you want to teach English in South Asia, then it becomes all the more important. A student will have more trust in you when he or she sees that your first language is English. There has always been a fascination in oriental countries to learn the language English. With more and more teaching institutes opening in the countries every day, the competition is also increasing.

Reasons for Age Limitation

There is also the age limit in the South Asia. The minimum age need is 24 to 25. Basically, a bachelor of English degree completes in 4 years of time, because the process completes in 3 years in England. This process is then completed with 2 years of teaching experience. This is the reason the nations have created this rule for them.

There is basically no upper age limit when it comes to applying for Visa in these countries. The local labor rules in different South Asian countries call for the restrictions. The age restrictions are always up for revision, as there are no concrete plans for it from now on.

The biggest barrier that people face teaching in these nations is – the two years of experience. The entry-level jobs do not offer good wages and it is the only experience that can give candidates the right pay that they truly deserve. Although the rule exists in posh cities like – Shanghai and Beijing, the thing is different for other smaller cities.

So, that you know the latest rules to apply for a teaching job in the South Asia, it is better to go for it as soon as possible. All the best for a great teaching experience in the future.

 

Teacher Education and Teacher Quality

Teacher Education1.0 INTRODUCTION

One of the sectors which fosters national development is education by ensuring the development of a functional human resource. The institution of strong educational structures leads to a society populated by enlightened people, who can cause positive economic progress and social transformation. A Positive social transformation and its associated economic growth are achieved as the people apply the skills they learned while they were in school. The acquisition of these skills is facilitated by one individual we all ‘teacher’. For this reason, nations seeking economic and social developments need not ignore teachers and their role in national development.

Teachers are the major factor that drives students’ achievements in learning. The performance of teachers generally determines, not only, the quality of education, but the general performance of the students they train. The teachers themselves therefore ought to get the best of education, so they can in turn help train students in the best of ways. It is known, that the quality of teachers and quality teaching are some of the most important factors that shape the learning and social and academic growth of students. Quality training will ensure, to a large extent, teachers are of very high quality, so as to be able to properly manage classrooms and facilitate learning. That is why teacher quality is still a matter of concern, even, in countries where students consistently obtain high scores in international exams, such as Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). In such countries, teacher education of prime importance because of the potential it has to cause positive students’ achievements.

The structure of teacher education keeps changing in almost all countries in response to the quest of producing teachers who understand the current needs of students or just the demand for teachers. The changes are attempts to ensure that quality teachers are produced and sometimes just to ensure that classrooms are not free of teachers. In the U.S.A, how to promote high quality teachers has been an issue of contention and, for the past decade or so, has been motivated, basically, through the methods prescribed by the No Child Left Behind Act (Accomplished California Teachers, 2015). Even in Japan and other Eastern countries where there are more teachers than needed, and structures have been instituted to ensure high quality teachers are produced and employed, issues relating to the teacher and teaching quality are still of concern (Ogawa, Fujii & Ikuo, 2013). Teacher education is therefore no joke anywhere. This article is in two parts. It first discusses Ghana’s teacher education system and in the second part looks at some determinants of quality teaching.

2.0 TEACHER EDUCATION

Ghana has been making deliberate attempts to produce quality teachers for her basic school classrooms. As Benneh (2006) indicated, Ghana’s aim of teacher education is to provide a complete teacher education program through the provision of initial teacher training and in-service training programs, that will produce competent teachers, who will help improve the effectiveness of the teaching and learning that goes on in schools. The Initial teacher education program for Ghana’s basic school teachers was offered in Colleges of Education (CoE) only, until quite recently when, University of Education, University of Cape Coast, Central University College and other tertiary institutions joined in. The most striking difference between the programs offered by the other tertiary institution is that while the Universities teach, examine and award certificates to their students, the Colleges of Education offer tuition while the University of Cape Coast, through the Institute of Education, examines and award certificates. The training programs offered by these institutions are attempts at providing many qualified teachers to teach in the schools. The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher training programs in order to ensure quality.

The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher education programs based on the structure and content of the courses proposed by the institution. Hence, the courses run by various institutions differ in content and structure. For example, the course content for the Institute of Education, University of Cape Coast is slightly different from the course structure and content of the Center for Continue Education, University of Cape Coast and none of these two programs matches that of the CoEs, though they all award Diploma in Basic Education (DBE) after three years of training. The DBE and the Four-year Untrained Teacher’s Diploma in Basic Education (UTDBE) programs run by the CoEs are only similar, but not the same. The same can be said of the Two-year Post-Diploma in Basic Education, Four-year Bachelor’s degree programs run by the University of Cape Coast, the University of Education, Winneba and the other Universities and University Colleges. In effect even though, same products attract same clients, the preparation of the products are done in different ways.

It is through these many programs that teachers are prepared for the basic schools – from nursery to senior high schools. Alternative pathways, or programs through which teachers are prepared are seen to be good in situations where there are shortages of teachers and more teachers ought to be trained within a very short time. A typical example is the UTDBE program, mentioned above, which design to equip non-professional teachers with professional skills. But this attempt to produce more teachers, because of shortage of teachers, has the tendency of comprising quality.

As noted by Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) the factors that contribute to the problems of teacher education and teacher retention are varied and complex, but one factor that teacher educators are concerned about is the alternative pathways through which teacher education occur. The prime aim of many of the pathways is to fast track teachers into the teaching profession. This short-changed the necessary teacher preparation that prospective teachers need before becoming classroom teachers. Those who favor alternative routes, like Teach for America (TFA), according to Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) have defended their alternative pathways by saying that even though the students are engaged in a short-period of pre-service training, the students are academically brilliant and so have the capacity to learn a lot in a short period. Others argue that in subjects like English, Science and mathematics where there are usually shortages of teachers, there must be a deliberate opening up of alternative pathways to good candidates who had done English, Mathematics and Science courses at the undergraduate level. None of these arguments in support of alternative pathways, hold for the alternative teacher education programs in Ghana, where the academically brilliant students shun teaching due to reasons I shall come to.

When the target is just to fill vacant classrooms, issues of quality teacher preparation is relegated to the background, somehow. Right at the selection stage, the alternative pathways ease the requirement for gaining entry into teacher education programs. When, for example, the second batch of UTDBE students were admitted, I can say with confidence that entry requirements into the CoEs were not adhered to. What was emphasized was that, the applicant must be a non-professional basic school teacher who has been engaged by the Ghana Education Service, and that the applicant holds a certificate above Basic Education Certificate Examination. The grades obtained did not matter. If this pathway had not been created, the CoEs would not have trained students who initially did not qualify to enroll in the regular DBE program. However, it leaves in its trail the debilitating effect compromised quality.

Even with regular DBE programs, I have realized, just recently I must say, that CoEs in, particular, are not attracting the candidates with very high grades. This as I have learnt now has a huge influence on both teacher quality and teacher effectiveness. The fact is, teacher education programs in Ghana are not regarded as prestigious programs and so applicants with high grades do not opt for education programs. And so the majority of applicants who apply for teacher education programs have, relatively, lower grades. When the entry requirement for CoEs’ DBE program for 2016/2017 academic year was published, I noticed the minimum entry grades had been dropped from C6 to D8 for West African Senior Secondary School Examination candidates. This drop in standard could only be attributed to CoEs’ attempt to attract more applicants. The universities too, lower their cut off point for education programs so as attract more candidates. The universities as alleged by Levine (2006) see their teacher education programs, so to say, as cash cows. Their desire to make money, force them to lower admission standards, like the CoEs have done, in order to increase their enrollments. The fact that, admission standards are internationally lowered in order to achieve a goal of increasing numbers. This weak recruitment practice or lowering of standards introduce a serious challenge to teacher education.

The Japanese have been able to make teacher education and teaching prestigious and therefor attract students with high grades. One may argue that in Japan, the supply of teachers far exceeds the demand and so authorities are not under any pressure to hire teachers. Their system won’t suffer if they do all they can to select higher grade student into teacher education programs. To them, the issues relating to the selection of teachers are more important that the issues relating to recruitment. However, in western and African countries the issues relating to recruitment are prime. It is so because the demand for teachers far outweighs that of supply. Western and African countries have difficulties recruiting teachers because teachers and the teaching profession is not held in high esteem. Teacher education programs therefore do not attract students who have very good grades. It is worth noting that, it is not the recruiting procedure only that determines whether or not teacher education will be prestigious, however recruiting candidates with high grades, ensures that after training, teachers will exhibit the two characteristics essential to effective teaching – quality and effectiveness. Teacher education can be effective if the teaching profession is held in high esteem and therefore able to attract the best of applicants. Otherwise, irrespective of incentives put into place to attract applicants and irrespective of the measures that will be put in place to strengthen teacher education, teacher education programs cannot fully achieve its purpose.

In order to strengthen teacher preparation, there is the need for teacher preparation programs to provide good training during the initial teacher training stage, and provide and sustain support during the first few years after the teachers have been employed. That is why Lumpe (2007) supports the idea that pre-service teacher education programs should ensure teachers have gained a good understanding of effective teaching strategies. Methodology classes therefore should center on effective teaching strategies. Irrespective of the pathway the training program takes, the program must be structured such that trainees gain knowledge about pedagogy, besides the knowledge of subject matter. They should also get enough exposure to practical classroom experience like the on-campus and off-campus teaching practice. Whether or not there is the need to fill vacancies in the classroom due to the high teacher attrition, many countries face, teacher preparation programs should aim at producing quality and effective teacher and not just filling vacancies.

3.0 DETERMINANTS OF TEACHER QUALITY

Teacher quality has such enormous influence on students’ learning. Anyone who has been in the teaching business will agree that teacher quality is central to education reform efforts. Priagula, Agam & Solmon (2007) described teacher quality as an important in-school factor that impact significantly on students’ learning. Quality teachers have positive impact on the success of students. Where the students have quality and effective teachers the students make learning gains while those with ineffective teachers show declines. With respect to the classroom teacher, teacher quality is a continuous process of doing self-assessment so as to have professional development and a self-renewal, in order to enhance teaching. For the teacher educator, an effective or quality teacher is one who has a good subject-matter and pedagogy knowledge, which the he/she can build upon.

Outstanding teachers possess and exhibit many exemplary qualities. They have the skills, subject matter, and pedagogy to reach every child. They help equip their students with the knowledge and breadth of awareness to make sound and independent judgments. Three determinants of teacher quality will be considered here. They are; pedagogical knowledge, subject-matter content knowledge and experience.

3.1 PEDAGOGICAL CONTENT KNOWLEDGE

Trainees of every profession receive some sort of education that will give them insight into and prepare them for the task ahead. That of the teacher is called Pedagogical Content Knowledge or Pedagogical Knowledge. Pedagogical Content Knowledge can be described as, knowledge the teachers use in organizing classrooms, delivering the content the students must show mastery over and for managing the students entrusted into their care. Generally speaking, pedagogical knowledge is knowledge the teacher uses to facilitate students’ learning. Pedagogical Content Knowledge is in two major forms – teachers’ knowledge of the students’ pre-conceptions and teachers’ knowledge of teaching methodologies. Students come to class with a host of pre-conceptions relating to the things they are learning. The pre-conceptions may or may not be consistent with the actual subject-matter that is delivered. Teachers must have a good idea of both kinds of preconception, in order to help students, replace the inconsistent pre-conceptions or build upon the consistent pre-conceptions to bring about meaningful learning. Teachers must have a repertoire of teaching methodologies for facilitating students’ learning. When the methodologies are applied wrongly little or no learning occurs in students. In effect when either of the two is weak, the teacher becomes a bad one because that teacher will not be able to execute his/her responsibility in the vocation he/she has chosen. Due to this during teacher preparation, Pedagogical Content Knowledge is emphasized.

Teachers gain Pedagogical Content Knowledge from various sources. Friedrichsen, Abell, Pareja, Brown, Lankford and Volkmann (2009) distinguished three potential sources of Pedagogical Content Knowledge. They listed the sources as professional development programs, teaching experiences and lastly teachers’ own learning experiences. During their days as students in teacher education programs, teachers are assisted in variety ways to gain Pedagogical Content Knowledge. For examples, during practice, they learn how to put the pedagogical skills they learnt. Teacher education programs and other professional development programs create avenues for teachers to gain pedagogical content knowledge through workshops, lectures, working together with colleagues, and in teaching practice. Then their experiences in their classrooms as they teach students lead them to gain insight into which methodologies work under best under specific situations. That last source is usually ignored. It indicates that the professional knowledge of the teacher begins to develop long before the teacher becomes a candidate entering into teacher education. This means, the way teachers teach influences to a large extent the prospective teachers’ professional knowledge and beliefs. This type of learning is, generally, overlooked by teachers at all levels because unintentional and informal, it is.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge can be gained through formal and informal means. Learning opportunities for pedagogical content knowledge, formally, designed by institutions, based on learning objectives which generally are prerequisite for certification, constitutes the formal means. In formal learning, students have clear ideas about the objective of acquiring pedagogical skills. Informal learning, on the other hand, is not organized intentionally. It takes place incidentally and so can be considered as ‘side effect’. As Kleickmann et al (2012) described it, it has no goal with respect to learning outcomes, and it is contextualized to a large extent. This is often called learning by experience. Informal, but deliberative, learning situations exists. This occurs in situations such as learning in groups, mentoring, and intentional practicing of some skills or tools. Werquin (2010) described informal, but deliberative, learning as non-formal learning. Unlike formal learning, non-formal learning does not occur in educational institutions and does not attract certification. Whether pedagogical content knowledge

Pedagogical Content Knowledge is used to bridges the gap between content knowledge and actual teaching. By bridging the gap, it ensures that discussions of content are relevant to teaching and that discussions themselves are focused on the content. As such, Pedagogical Content Knowledge is something teachers must pay attention to. Teachers who possess and use good Pedagogical content knowledge have good control over classroom management and assessment, knowledge about learning processes, teaching methods, and individual characteristics (Harr, Eichler, & Renkl, 2014). Such teachers are able to create an atmosphere that facilitates learning and are also able to present or facilitate the learning of concepts by even lazy students. They are able to make learning easier by students hence teacher with high pedagogical content knowledge can be classified as quality teachers. It is worth noting that it is not pedagogical content knowledge only that makes good teachers. A teacher will not be good if he/she is master of pedagogical knowledge but lacks subject matter content knowledge.

3.2 SUBJECT-MATTER KNOWLEDGE

The goal of teaching is to help learners develop intellectual resources that will enable them participate fully in the main domains of human taught and enquiry. The degree to which the teacher can assist students to learn depends on the subject-matter the teacher possesses. That is to say, teachers’ knowledge of subject-matter has influence on their efforts to assist students to learn that subject-matter. If a teacher is ignorant or not well informed he/she cannot do students any good, he/she will rather much harm them. When the teacher conceives knowledge in such a way that it is narrow, or do not have accurate information relating to a particular subject-matter, he/she will pass on these same shallow or inaccurate information to students. This kind of teacher will hardly recognize the consistent pre-conceptions and challenge the misconceptions of students. Such a teacher can introduce misconceptions as he/she uses texts uncritically or inappropriately alter them. It is the teacher’s conception of knowledge that shapes the kind of questions he/she asks and the ideas he/she reinforces as well as the sorts of tasks the teacher designs.

Teachers’ subject-matter matter content knowledge must go beyond the specific topics of their curriculum. This is because the teacher does not only define concepts for students. Teachers explain to students why a particular concept or definition is acceptable, why learners must know it and how it relates to other concepts or definitions. This can be done properly if the teacher possesses a good understanding of the subject-matter. This type of understanding includes an understanding of the intellectual context and value of the subject-matter. The understanding of subject matter generally reinforces the teacher’s confidence in delivering lessons, thereby making him/her a good teacher.

3.3 EXPERIENCE

Experience is one of the factors that account for variations in teacher salary, the world over (Hanushek and Rivkin, 2006). The fact that salary differences are based on the number of years the teacher has served, suggests that employers believe the teachers experience makes him/her a better teacher and such a teacher must be motivated to remain in the service. Though some studies like that Hanushek (2011) have suggested that the experience positively influences teacher quality only in the first few years, and that beyond five years, experience ceases to have positive impact on teacher efficacy, common sense tells us the one who has been doing something for a long time does better and with ease. Experience will therefore continue to pay, since, more experienced teachers have the propensity to know more about the subject-matter they teach, and think and behave appropriately in the classroom, and have much more positive attitudes toward their students.

Teachers who have spent more years of teaching, usually, feel self-assured in their skill to use instructional and assessment tools. These teachers are able to reach even the most difficult-to-reach students in their classrooms. They also have greater confidence in their capability to control the class and prevent incidence that might make the teaching and learning process difficult. Their experience makes them much more patient and tolerant than their counterpart with few years of experience (Wolters & Daugherty, 2007). Novice teachers progressively gain and develop teaching and classroom management skills needed to make them effective teachers. They spend time learning themselves – trying to understand fully the job they have entered. The teachers who have spent more years teaching have gained a rich store of knowledge the less experience teachers will be trying to build. Teachers’ sense of effectiveness is generally associated with good attitudes, behaviors and interactions with their students. This is something the experienced teacher has already acquired. These explain why more experienced teachers are usually more effective teachers than the novices.

Another reason more experienced teachers tend to be better teachers than their inexperienced counterparts, is that, experienced teachers have gained additional training, and hence, have acquired additional teaching skills, needed to be effective from direct experience. Usually the training of teachers does not end at the initial teacher training stage. After graduation, teachers attend capacity building seminars, workshops and conferences. These give teachers the opportunity to learn emerging teaching techniques and also refresh their memories on the things they have learnt. Such seminars, workshops and conferences mostly add to the teacher’s store of knowledge. The other advantage the experienced teachers have is that they have encountered more situations to develop the skills needed to be effective teachers through additional direct, and sometimes indirect experiences. That is to say, they have encountered challenging situations which gave them the opportunity to build their skills. Whether they were able to overcome these challenging situation or not, does not matter so much. If the teachers encounter difficult situations in their classes, they learn from them. If the teachers are able to overcome difficult situations, they get to know how to resolve such situations at the next encounter, otherwise their reflections and suggestions from co-teachers gives them ideas about how to approach same or similar situations. They also have a greater chance of being exposed to current and competent models. More experienced teachers have a higher chance of demonstrating superior self-efficacy in most areas, because they have learned the needed classroom management and instructional skills from their colleagues. Teachers who have been in active service for many years are most likely to be classified as quality teachers, because of what they have learnt from in-service training, capacity building workshops and seminars, their interaction with other teachers and what they have learnt from experience in their classrooms.

4.0 CONCLUSION

Teacher education aims at providing teacher education program through initial teacher training for teacher trainees, and in-service training for practicing teachers in order to produce knowledgeable and committed teachers for effective teaching and learning. To realize this mission, teacher education programs have been instituted for the training of teachers. These programs differ from one country to another. Even within the same country, there may be different programs training teachers for the same certificate. These alternative programs are a created, specially, where there are shortages of teachers, and attempts are being made to train large numbers of teachers at a time. These alternative programs ease the teacher certification requirement, allowing those who under normal circumstances would not become teachers. This introduces serious challenges. Because large numbers of teachers are needed within a short period, their training is somewhat fast-tracked resulting in what is usually referred to as half-baked teachers – teachers of lower quality. Applicants who did not gain admission into the program of their choice come into teaching only because they have nowhere else to go. Such applicants tend not to be dedicated to the teaching service in the end. Fast-tracking initial teacher preparation actually harm the mission for which the initial teacher training institutions were created. This is because the teacher produced through such training are usually not of high quality.

Teacher preparation has a direct impact on students’ achievement. The most important in-school factors upon which student’s success hinges, is a teacher who has been well prepared. A well-prepared teacher is one who has gone through a strong teacher preparation program. It is therefore necessary for educators to work to create needed improvements in teacher preparation. To strengthen teacher preparation, teacher preparation programs must provide strong preparation during the initial teacher training period and give support to fresh teachers until they are inducted. Pre-service teacher education should emphasize the acquisition of effective teaching strategies. This can be done in methodology classes and corresponding field experiences. Students who have quality teachers make achievement gains, while those with ineffective teachers show declines, therefore having high quality teachers in classrooms has a positive impact on students’ achievements.

Pedagogical content knowledge, subject matter content knowledge and experience determines the quality of a teacher. Teachers make subject-matter accessible to students by using Pedagogical content knowledge. Pedagogical content knowledge has two broad areas of knowledge: teachers’ knowledge of students’ subject-matter pre-conceptions and teachers’ knowledge of teaching strategies. What Pedagogical content knowledge does is that, it links subject-matter content knowledge and the practice of teaching, making sure that discussions on content are appropriate and that, discussions focus on the content and help students to retain the content. The teacher’s job is to facilitate the learning of subject-matter by students. The degree to which the teacher can assist students to learn depends on the subject-matter content knowledge the teacher possesses. Teachers who possess inaccurate information or comprehend the subject-matter in narrow ways, harm students by passing on the same false or shallow subject-matter knowledge to their students. The last of the three determinants of teacher quality is experience. Teachers who have served more years gain additional and more specific training by attending seminars, conferences and workshops and in-service training and so tend to understand their job better. They also might have met and solved many challenging situations in their classroom and therefore know exactly what to do in any situation.

5.0 REFERENCES

Accomplished California Teachers (2015). A coherent system of teacher evaluation for quality teaching. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23(17) 1 – 23.

Benneh, M. (2006). Particular issues on teacher education and training in Ghana. Dakar, Senegal: UNESCO.

Friedrichsen, P. J., Abell, S. K., Pareja, E. M., Brown, P. L., Lankford, D. M., & Volkmann, M. J. (2009). Does teaching experience matter? Examining biology teachers’ prior knowledge for teaching in an alternative certification program. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46, 357-383.

Hanushek, E. A. (2011). The economic value of higher teacher quality.” Economics of

Education Review 30, 466-479.

Hanushek, E. A., & Rivkin, S. G. (2006). Teacher quality.” In E. A. Hanushek, & F. Welch (Eds.), Handbook of the economics of education, vol. 2 (pp.1051-1078). Amsterdam: North Holland.

Harr, N., Eichler, A., & Renkl, A. (2014). Integrating pedagogical content knowledge and pedagogical/psychological knowledge in mathematics. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 924.

Kleickmann, T., Richter, D., Kunter, M., Elsner, J., Besser, M., Krauss, S., & Baumert, J. (2012). Teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge: The role of structural differences in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 20(10). 1 -17.

Levine, A. (2006). Educating school teachers. Washington, DC: Education Schools Project. Retrieved from http://www.edschools.org/teacher_report.htm

Lumpe, T. A. (2007). Application of effective schools and teacher quality research to science teacher education. Journal of Science Teacher Education 18, 345-348.

Ogawa, H., Fujii, H., & Ikuo, A. (2013). Teacher education in japan through training program with experiment study. Chemical Education Journal (CEJ), 15, 1 – 10.

Priagula, C., Agam, K. F., & Solmon, L. C. (2007). How stakeholders can support teacher quality. Charlotte, N.C.: Information Age Publishing.

Werquin, P. (2010). Recognising non-formal and informal learning: Outcomes, policies and practices. Paris, France: OECD publishing.

Wolters, C. A., & Daugherty, S. G. (2007). Goal Structures and teachers’ sense of efficacy: Their relation and association to teaching experience and academic level. Journal of Educational Psychology 99(1), 181-193.

Xiaoxia A. N., Heeju, J., Nicci, N., & Stone, E. (2010). Recruiting, preparing, and retaining high quality secondary mathematics and science teachers for urban schools: The Cal teach experimental program. Issues in teacher education 19(1), 21-40.

Professional Learning Opportunities For Teachers That Work!

Professional LearningFor years I have heard the groans, moans, and sighs of classroom teachers, when they have heard the words PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. The idea of teaching and managing the unique personalities of students for hours within a school day, and then to be forced to close the day with a training, in-service, or workshop is not appealing to most teachers. To make professional learning opportunities more appealing, three guiding principles should be considered: relevance, engagement, and opportunities for ongoing support.

The first question that is commonly posed by classroom teachers is “How does this professional development workshop apply to me as a teacher?” If teachers are unable to see how they fit within the equation, then physically they are present, but mentally they are disengaged. The fact of the matter is that all professional learning opportunities do not apply to all educators. For instance, preschool teachers would likely not find relevance in a workshop about the upcoming state-mandated test for 3rd-8th graders. Despite the fact that this population of teachers understand that they provide the fundamental skills that set the tone for the subsequent grades, they look for training that they can implement immediately. If training of any sort does not result in immediate outcomes that influence student learning, student achievement, and the quality of teaching, then teachers experience a lack of interest and rightfully so.

In addition to relevance, professional learning opportunities should also allow teachers to participate in learning engagements. These learning engagements should be developed to allow time for teachers to actually receive guided, shared, and/or independent practice in instructional practices that are modeled by the facilitator. During this time, the facilitator is afforded the opportunity to observe and to provide supportive feedback to classroom teachers, while the teachers are able to learn alongside their colleagues and to pose questions for clarification.

Lastly, it is also necessary that opportunities for ongoing support be integrated as a part of the professional development opportunity. Too often teachers receive a form of “drive-by training”, which is simply a superficial level of training yet, they are still expected to implement it with fidelity. Without ongoing support, teachers are left to implement the information that they gained from professional learning opportunities on their own. They must rely on the information that they can recall and to depend on their fellow colleagues for support and direction. However, for a sufficient amount of support, teachers seek support from other instructional support staff such as instructional coaches or curriculum coordinators. These individuals possess specialized knowledge and have the availability that gives them the opportunity to provide the type of support that teachers seek after receiving professional training.

Professional learning opportunities that work must be teacher-centered and integrate adult-learning theories just as classroom instruction is geared toward student-centeredness and child development theories. The effectiveness of these opportunities must be grounded in the idea that staff developers and facilitators design workshops that will leave a positive impression upon teachers and that easily transfer into their classroom instruction.

Private Tutoring Vs Public Education

Private TutoringA tutor is a professional instructor who tutors or teaches a student. The term ‘tutor’ is largely used in the context of private or personal teaching, either to a single student or a group of students, that are in need of supplementary tutoring outside the classroom.

Tutor profiles in different countries

The title is used to denote different job profiles in different countries. For instance, in the US, the term tutor is usually associated with a professional who instructs or teaches within a school setting. But often, a tutor is a professional instructor in a given subject or field and by and large, the term is used at a higher educational level – e.g. high school and college levels.

In the UK, a class of students or a ‘form’ is the responsibility of the ‘form tutor’ who is headed by a guidance teacher or year head and has full-time responsibility in his or her role as a specialist subject teacher. The form tutor is the person who interacts with parents about their child’s progress, shortcomings and any problems encountered at school and provides the foundation for a well-rounded academic experience.

In Asia, a tutor usually refers to a professional instructor who provides private coaching or teaching. Several countries in south-east Asia maintain different profiles for the job of a tutor; in Cambodia, tutoring is provided by regular teachers, small and large companies provide tutoring in Hong Kong and in South Korea private entrepreneurs and companies use technology to provide tutoring on a large scale.

Fallouts of private tutoring

A study undertaken by the Comparative Education Research Centre at the University of Hong Kong made some very strong observations, chief among them being the fact that private tutoring has created and exacerbated social inequalities and nurtured an unregulated industry which burgeoned at the cost of much needed household income. Besides, it has caused inefficiencies in school education systems and has undermined government and official statements about free-education for all. In short, private tutoring has threatened social cohesion.

This sort of private tutoring is called ‘shadow education’ and the industry is growing rapidly globally. There are several factors attributed to this such as:

• Stratification of education systems
• Perceptions of shortcoming in regular academic streams
• Cultural factors
• Growing incomes
• Diminishing family sizes

This has spurred the education sector to attain the status of a profitable industry segment with a vast advertising and marketing portfolio, much like saleable commodities in the market.

Benefits of tutoring

Besides the institution that gains manifold from having tutors on its roles thereby expanding the scope of knowledge and information, there are certain benefits that the tutors also gain as well as the students.

The benefits enjoyed by a tutor through glimpses into the teaching segment and interacting with qualified and experienced teaching professionals are:

• Increases knowledge of specific subjects
• Widens scope of subject-related information
• Improves the ability to manage study strategies
• Enhances motivation to improve knowledge in order to be competitive
• Encourages higher levels of thinking

For the students the benefits are numerous; however, the important ones are:

• Provides greater interaction between teacher and learner and creates a role model for youngsters
• Greatly improves academic performance
• Improves personal growth and self-esteem
• Motivates self-directed and self-paced learning
• Provides greater opportunities for intensive study practice of subjects