Professional Development in Schools: How a School in Myanmar Has Continuously Polished the Skillsets of Its Teachers

Brainworks K-12 Integrated group of schools focuses on innovation and adaptability in education. Education providers who focus on digital educational solutions such as eLearning courses and blended learning programs have many opportunities for teacher training. In addition to all the traditional teaching skills, their teachers also have a lot to gain from undergoing training on digital educational solutions. Teachers receive training from internationally acclaimed experts to broaden their skillset and provide the highest quality education possible.

Cambridge Professional Development Qualifications (Cambridge PDQs) cover four themes each at certificate and diploma level which are Teaching and Learning, Educational Leadership, Teaching Bilingual Learners, and Teaching with Digital Technologies. Each syllabus focuses on professional development needs that matter most to our schools, leaders and teachers. Schools can tailor the programs to suit their own priorities, needs and local context. The Cambridge PDQ Diploma consists of three learning and assessment modules. Each module must be completed successfully before moving to the next. Candidates can take Module 1 on its own as the Certificate. It provides a strong foundation for progress to Modules 2 and 3 of the Diploma.

Richard Sarpong, the Head of Professional Development from International Community School in Kumasi, Ghana says, “It has encouraged experimentation of best practices and changes in teaching and leadership practices, enriched professional conversations and professional judgements of staff, and renewed interest in education among staff.” Vardhana Lakshmi, Programme Leader CfBT Education Services in India says, “Cambridge guides and supports us in implementing the programs, and we encourage the teachers, leaders and their schools to think creatively and be innovative in their practice. The outcomes of collaborative learning have impacted positively on schools through improved learning outcomes.”

Another is the teaching pedagogies. Differences in the age of the pupils and the content being delivered can influence the pedagogical practices a teacher will choose to use. Teachers can use research from a variety of academic disciplines to inform their decisions, alongside their experience teaching those age groups. For example, a teacher in EYFS may reference cognitive development research and their experience of the success of adult-directed play. The justifications behind the decisions will become the pedagogical principles, and every teacher will develop their own pedagogical principles over time. The different pedagogical approaches could be broken down into four categories: behaviorism, constructivism, social constructivism, and liberationist.

A behaviorist pedagogy uses the theory of behaviorism to inform its approach. A behaviorist pedagogical approach would say learning is teacher centered. It would advocate the use of direct instruction, and lecture based lessons. Behaviorist pedagogy is the theory that the teacher should be the sole authority figure, and leads the lesson. Knowledge should be delivered in a curriculum where each subject is taught discretely (as opposed to topic based learning, for example). In a lesson using a behaviorist pedagogical approach, you could expect to see a mixture of lecturing, modelling and demonstration, rote learning, and choral repetition. All of these activities are ‘visible’ and structured, as well as being led by the teacher. However, during the course of the lesson, the shift may come where the student is the center of the activity, and demonstrates their learning. Behaviorism is also sometimes described as a traditional teaching style.

Constructivism is a theory that people learn through experiences and reflection. Constructivist pedagogy puts the child at the center of the learning, and is sometimes called ‘invisible pedagogy’. A constructivist approach would incorporate project work; inquiry based learning, and might adopt a Montessori or Steiner method. Piaget wrote extensively about schemas, an idea that learners come ready to learn, and the teacher must build activities to facilitate their learning. Younger children work things through physically, whereas older children tackle symbolic and abstract ideas. A lesson might include individualization, a slower pace, hidden outcomes, the mantle of the expert, and less teacher talk. Some adopters of this pedagogy would also place emphasis on being outdoors and engaging with nature. Constructivism can also be described as a progressive teaching style.

A social constructivism pedagogy could be considered to be a blend of two priorities which are teacher guided and student centered. The teacher would use group work elements, but in smaller group sizes, and limit the choice in topics. The teacher might also use teacher modelling, questioning, and a mixture of individual, pair, and whole class instruction.

Liberationism is a critical pedagogy developed by the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. Freire focused on removing the two barriers to learning: poverty and hunger. Freire was then imprisoned following a military coup. Once he was released, he wrote a book called ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ where Freire wrote about the dehumanization of students in schools and argued for cooperation and unity. A liberationist approach is one where the student voice is placed at the center and a democracy is put into the classroom. Value is placed on having the teacher as a learner and the class discovering subjects together. The teacher might use examples of literature that contain non-standard constructions, such as hip-hop or graffiti. Students may also take on the role of the teacher and decide upon the topic of the lesson. The teacher should provide space and opportunity for the students to showcase their learning, which can take the form of a performance, speech, or dance.

Another program that is being implemented from preschool years is Handwriting without Tears. It uses a variety of sensory materials and even teaches basics like pencil grip before beginning to write. Just practicing these patterns for 15 minutes a day can help a child memorize the writing steps. This programs aims to help children avoid spelling errors in writing, especially with reverse letters like b and d.

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