02 SES 02 B, Reflections on Vocational Teachers' Professional Development
There have been many changes in the field of vocational education in Estonia. The state-wide reorganisation of vocational education in the independent Estonia began in 1998 when the Vocational Educational Institutions Act was adopted and the conceptual approaches to vocational education were approved. Vocational education has been promoted and its image has been improved in society through the improvement of its quality and transparency and by making it more current and accessible to everyone who is interested. As a result, the vocational qualification system, standards of vocational education and national curricula have been developed, new forms of vocational education have been introduced, study environments have been modernised, cooperation between vocational educational institutions and companies has been improved and more flexible forms of study have been applied (including workplace-based study and e-learning). (Eesti kutseharidussüsteemi arengukava aastateks, 2001-2004, 2001; 2005-2008, 2005; 2009 – 2013, 2009; Kutseõppeasutuse seadus, 2013). Increasing the student-centeredness and variety in the target group of vocational education has also been a main focus point (Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020, 2013). Changes in the student body entail many challenges, which demand new pedagogical approaches and new competencies from VET teachers. Internationalisation is also a serious challenge for VET teachers, demanding language skills, knowledge of requirements related to their professionality in other countries, as well as intercultural communication skills (Volmari, Helakorpi, Frimodt, 2009).
It can be concluded from this brief overview that the many changes in vocational education have affected its several levels, from national regulations to the practical work of each VET teacher.
At the centre of the changes in vocational education stands the VET teacher who is seen as the key person in executing the changes, solving problems and reaching the objectives set (Trends in VET policy in Europe 2010–12, 2012; Singh, 2011). Thus, it can be presumed that the work of VET teachers has become more complex because the requirements and expectations of them have increased and this demands new/different skills from VET teachers in order to get the job done. The focus of this study is on how VET teachers themselves perceive the changes in their work life and professionality, and how they cope with the changes.
To solve the research question, the authors opened the concept of professionality in the context of VET teachers. Discussions and studies regarding professionalism (incl. profession), professionality and professionalization, especially in the context of teaching, have constantly been central, because wider changes in society have altered the meanings of these terms (Ruler, 2005; Loogma, 2014; Noordegraaf, 2007; Evans, 2008; Evetts, 2009; Clow, 2001). Professionalism and “professionality” have been distinguished in the professional lives of teachers (Hoyle, 1975, references by Loogma, 2013). According to this distinction, the professionalism of a teacher is a sociological concept, which is related to the position of the teacher in society. “Professionality”, on the other hand, is related to the elements of a teacher's work, such as knowledge, skills and procedures that the teacher applies in practice. (Loogma, 2013) The “professionality” of a VET teacher is changing constantly, which may imply the emergence of new perspectives and tasks primarily from factors affecting the work, experience, organisation, etc., or from accepting them. This study focuses on the personal aspects of “professionality” of VET teachers which they themselves perceive to be relevant in terms of coping with daily work and being a professional VET teacher.
Clow, R. (2001). Further Education Teacher´ Construction of Professionalism. In Journal of Vocational Education & Training. Vol 53, No 3, pp 407 – 419 Creswell, John W. (2009). Research Design. Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed methods Approaches. SAGE Publication Eesti elukestva õppe strateegia 2020. (2013). Eesti Koostöö Kogu, Eesti Haridusfoorum, Haridus- ja Teadusministeerium. [2014, mai, 22] http://www.hm.ee/index.php?0513767 Eesti kutseharidussüsteemi arengukava 2009 – 2013. (2009). Haridus- ja Teadusministeerium. [2013, jaanuar 14] http://www.hm.ee/index.php?03236 Eesti kutseharidussüsteemi arengukava aastateks 2005-2008. (2005). Haridus- ja Teadusministeerium [2014, mai 18] 2005http://www.hm.ee/index.php?popup=download&id=3812 Trends in VET policy in Europe 2010-12. (2012). Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union [2014 mai, 22] http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications/20814.aspx Evans, L. (2008). Professionalism, professionality and the developement of education professionals. British Journal of Educational Studies. Blackwell Publishing Vol. 56, No. 1, pp 20-38. Evetts, J. (2009). The management of Professionalis. Gewirtz, S., Mahony, P., Hextall, I., Cribb, A. (ed) A contemporary paradoks. In Changign Teacher Professionalism. London and New York: Routlege Taylor & Francis Group. Loogma, K. (2013). Professionalism. Õpetajakutse kui professioon. Krull, E., Leijen, Ä., Lepik, M., Mikk, J., Talts, L., & Õun, T. (Toim) Õpetajate professionaalne areng ja selle toetamine. Eesti Ülikoolide Kirjastus, lk 236 – 247. Loogma, K. (2014). Conceptualizing Teachers´Professionalism: the Case of Estonian Lower Secondary Teachers. Liimets, A., Veisson, M. (eds) In Teachers and Youth in Educational Reality. Peter Lang Edition, pp 11-22. Noordegraaf, M. (2007). From „Pure“ and „Hybrid“ Professionalism: Present-Day Professionalism in Ambiguous Public Domains. In Administration & Society. Vol. 39, Nr. 6, pp 761-785 Ruler, B. van (2005). Commentary: Professionals are feom Venus, scholars are from Mars. Publik Relations Review, 31 (2005), 159 – 17. Kutseõppeasutuse seadus. (2013). Riigi Teataja I, 02.07.2013, 1 [ 2014, juuni, 30] https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/122122013002 Singh, M. (2011). Investing the Changes in Teacher Professional Learning: A Case Study of QMEA Schools. In Cross-cultural Communication. Vol. 7, No. 2, pp 63 -72. Smith, J. A., Flowers, P. & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. SAGE Tegevuskava kutseharidussüsteemi arendamiseks Eestis aastatel 2001-2004. (2001) Haridusministeerium, Kutsehariduse ja Tööhõive Seirekeskus. Tallinn: OÜ Sõnasepp [2014, mai 18] http://digar.nlib.ee/digar/show/?id=5249 Volmari, K., Helakorpi, S. & Frimodt, R. (2009). Competence Framework for VET Profession. Finnish National Board of Education: Vammalan Kirjapaino Oy.
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