01 SES 02 B, Empowerment, Agency and Teacher Quality in Professional Learning
The research addresses the Czech and Russian educational systems in terms of professional development of lower secondary school teachers. Given its relevance and value in the society, quality education has been a top priority in the government’s agenda for the past two decades in the Czech Republic and Russia. The countries strive to improve educational standards to comply with the worldwide quality. In both countries the governments have enacted policies that require teachers to have opportunities to update not only their pedagogical content knowledge but social pedagogical knowledge as well (Shulman, 1987). The choice of the Czech Republic and Russia for the analysis is based on the comparative research of the two countries because the comparative study in education allows one to see various practices and procedures in a wider context that helps to throw light on them, examining alternatives to the normal practice (Phillips, 2000). Though a large volume of educational research exists relating to comparing lower secondary school teacher CPD in the Czech Republic and Russia but as far as the author is aware nobody has compared the CPD of Czech and Russian lower secondary school teachers based on secondary data collected by TALIS 2018 yet.
The objective of this research is to identify, explore and critically evaluate lower secondary school teachers’ professional identities (demographics and personality traits, qualification, teaching experience, education context) and CPD in the Czech Republic and Russia, to provide a comparative analysis in order to find out from that how the quality of CPD in both countries can be improved. Furthermore, the research gains a better understanding of the school systems being compared, Education Acts as well as the Acts on Teachers and reforms over the past few decades and identify any similarities and differences in order to explore any transferable best practices found in both countries that can be adopted to schools and can help to improve teacher quality.
The following questions will help to address these research objectives:
- What are the professional identities of lower secondary school teachers in the Czech Republic and Russia?
- What are the similarities and differences in the education systems of the two countries? Are there any professional standards and teacher professional commitments? What are they?
- What are the teachers’ perception and expectations of CPD?
- What is the perceived impact of CPD on teacher self-efficacy? What factors influence it?
- How is CPD structured and organized? What forms of CPD do teachers take part in?
The topic of CPD is has become an area of growing interest internationally and there is an increasing body of research focused on various aspects of teachers’ professional development (Avalos, 2011; Kennedy, 2005). Research strongly points towards the transformation in teachers’ attitudes and beliefs through their participation in carefully designed professional development programmes.
Teaching as a profession is a very broad concept. Shulman (1987) expresses the view that teaching necessarily begins with a content knowledge. The researcher sticks to the point that “for teachers and school leaders, professionalism means not only conducting their work in an effective manner, but working to improve their skills, collaborating with colleagues and parents, and thinking creatively about the challenges they face” (OECD 2018b). The work with the following variables will be carried out and the researcher will match them to teachers in the Czech Republic and Russia: kinds of professional development activities teachers participate in and impact on their teaching; the extent to which they currently need professional development and barriers to teachers’ participation in professional development.
The researcher intends to answer questions 1,2,5 using quantitative research and questions 3 and 4 through qualitative one. In order to answer questions 2 and 5 the Law Regulations on Education and on Teachers in both countries will be used as well as the Government websites on Education. Data are collected through both quantitative and qualitative methods. Various methods of data collection enable comparison and prevent the researcher from drawing inappropriate conclusions than if they were based on one set of data or source. On the first stage of the research the second data conducted by TALIS 2018 has been analyzed. The researcher intends to analyze TALIS data dealing with Professional Development (questions 19-28). The work with the following variables will be carried out and the researcher will match them to teachers in the Czech Republic and Russia: kinds of professional development activities teachers participate in (courses, peer-observation, reading professional literature, etc.) and impact on their teaching (it focused on content needed to teach the subjects, it provided opportunities to apply new ideas in the classroom, etc.); the extent to which they currently need professional development (student assessment practices, teaching students with special needs, etc.) and barriers to teachers’ participation in professional development (professional development is too expensive, there is no relevant professional development offered, etc.). The following statistical procedures will be employed: simple descriptive statistics and regression analysis. IDB analyzer will be used to analyze, view and explore data. On the second stage data on teacher self-efficacy will be collected and explored through interviews with teachers. Conducting interview is time consuming especially because of the busy schedule of some of the participants. I expect approximately 50 respondents in total (25 per country). The following variables are considered significant for selection of participants: only public-school teachers are interviewed. They should teach at lower secondary level. Another variable is the length of school teaching experience. The researcher considers that having teachers of a variable length of teaching experience in the sample is of great importance as it is an important predictor in the qualitative analyses. Gender and age are other variables which have a significant influence on CPD performance and outcomes. The interviews can be conducted via Skype or any other online programme. The final research tool is the data analysis.
The study of CPD has identified both differences and similarities between the two countries. Findings from this study suggest that CPD in Russia is characterized by a number of teaching standards. CPD has received a high profile over the last decade and various initiatives and policies have been introduced, but there is still a need to overhaul and modernize the training to move towards professionalization in both countries. Factors that encourage and motivate teachers towards CPD and those that act as barriers in participating are similar in both countries. The school management plays a major role in providing support and encouraging a culture of professional learning. However, teachers need to be encouraged to take ownership of their professional development and consider it as a personal responsibility rather than a professional obligation. They should be involved in identifying their professional development needs and constantly reflect on their practice. The researcher has an inclination to derive some suggestions and other general recommendations which can be useful for school management, teachers and policy makers in education. This will help to improve teacher competence as it focuses on developing teaching skills, professional attributes, encouraging positive attitudes and collaborative activities. The researcher concludes that highly-professional teaching involves updated innovations, identifying and developing polices to promote the teaching profession and finding ways to enhance it. The findings of this research will contribute to the new insights in the field and will help to create the model of the effective professional development system as there isn’t any existing model in the two countries. Finally, a strong commitment to innovation and research is required in both education system to ensure delivery of better policy outcomes. Stakeholders in education should be involved in such research and policy decisions.
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