Oiliúint Tosaigh Múinteoirí agus Forbairt Ghairmiúil Leanúnach na múinteoirí
Both initial teacher education (ITE) and continuous professional development (CPD) are critical to ensure that teachers acquire the competences, skills and knowledge that allow them to respond to a range of classroom situations. Professional mastery is positively associated with teachers’ satisfaction. This is especially the case for teachers who work in more demanding contexts, such as schools with high levels of socio-economic and educational disadvantage and very heterogeneous groups of learners.
As part of their initial education, it is important that all student and novice teachers have opportunities to enhance their understanding of the nature, causes, and extent of early school leaving and educational disadvantage. It is essential that all teachers understand their key role in supporting the continuity of children's development and learning and in recognising early signs of learning difficulties or disengagement. This includes the need for teachers to collaborate effectively among themselves, with other professionals inside and outside the school, and with parents and families.
Student teachers should be offered practical exposure to the everyday reality of educational disadvantage and multicultural environments, for example through participation in work placements in schools with high early school leaving (ESL) rates or high levels of socio-economic disadvantage, or in activities with vulnerable families. All novice and newly appointed teachers should attend a systematic induction programme which is coherent with their needs, and participate in training including through a professional community and additional support by a well-qualified mentor.
All teachers should be encouraged to build networks with other teachers, experts and researchers for information exchange and knowledge building on how to improve inclusive education and tackle early school leaving. ITE and CPD are kept alive by a culture of relational trust in schools. In a climate of trust teachers can act as change agents. Instructional development through formative and summative assessment can be conducted. A focus on understanding ESL should become a core element of initial teacher education and continuous professional development programmes. CPD should be context-specific and aligned with learners’ and schools' specific needs and goals. Child participation should be given sufficient prominence within professional development programmes.
According to recent studies, there are several areas for which teachers say they have moderate or high need for CPD, including:
- Competence to diagnose learners at risk
- Causes and consequences of early school leaving
- Early school leaving prevention, intervention and remediation measures
- Working with parents
- Teaching cross-curricular skills
- Teaching in multilingual and multicultural settings
- Student career guidance and counselling
- Teaching learners with special educational needs
- New technology in the workplace, including schools
- Approaches to individualised teaching and learning
- Conducting classroom-based individual and collaborative research
Some of the most effective ways to implement CPD that also enhance collaborative cultures in schools are:
- Building professional communities and teacher networks
- Peer-to-peer learning
- Peer observation
- In-service (internal) training
- Mentoring and coaching among staff and other professionals;
- Setting aside time and space for collective reflection and inquiry among teachers on ways to solve current problems, improve learning, strengthen the school climate and exchange observations and experiences and views
- Online or face-to-face (external) courses
- Co-operative action research to test innovative teaching practices
- Teaching practices database to share knowledge on effective practices
- Regular teacher appraisals
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