TEACHER’S COMPETENCE AND STUDENTS’ ACHIEVEMENT
Lecturer of Writing and Literature
Timor University, Kefamenanu, Timor, East Nusa Tenggara Province
I am also a student of Postgraduate Program, English Studies Program, Semarang State University
This paper just tries to poor down my understanding on the relationship between teacher competence and students’ achievement. To evaluate this relationship, it analyzes the concepts of competence, teacher competence, and the influences of teacher competence to increase the students’ achievement. It is hoped, it will be an alternative way to reflect us as teachers to do our job professionally.
Teacher Competence and Students’ Achievement
Form year to year, an issue around the results of the final examination in Indonesia has become a national debate. This issue is exposed to surface whenever the results of the final examination are really disappointing many sides, particularly students’ parents. To some extent, arguments coming from education experts and practitioners blame that the low achievement is caused by lack of trained teachers, low financial support from the government and low discipline to learning at certain schools. On the contrary, others argue that it is influenced by lack of preparation from students’ themselves. They never try to learn at home or at school although some schools have adequate facility.
Understanding the main cause of the low achievement means thinking about the solution of how to overcome that problem so that we, as members of this nation, may change the discourse on the final examination results; rather talking much about the central figures that can help students to pass on the final examination. The change of our attitude to respect and consider to the existence of the central figures in education is an indication of a radical shift on our mind.
We know that, as teachers, our main aim of our job is to make students learn effectively and efficiently. For doing so, a teacher has to do several activities such as plan properly, provide effective instruction and evaluate the learning activities using appropriate methods and techniques. That means that a teacher has to perform a host of activities inside and outside the classroom. We also know that effectiveness or ineffectiveness of teaching is closely linked to teacher competence. Competent teacher would create classroom conditions and climate, which are conducive for student learning.
Education experts, in general, agree that there are three factors that influence the success of teaching and learning process. Those interrelated factors are social, school, and family environments. However, based on my own experience, one of the school components, that is, teachers, play an important role in succeeding and helping students to get good achievement. As teachers, we should accept many criticisms addressed to us that we are actually not able to handle our job professionally. We are just proud that as teachers we are always greeted by many students, including people outside the school. But we never think and realize that many people are clever because of us, teachers. And, because of that case, we have to try to evaluate ourselves, to reflect whether we have really done our best.
Some teachers when asked their comments about the low final achievement last year, they claimed that it was due to the lack of preparation of the students. They refused to amend that that is caused by their low preparation on their students.
Richards (2006: 5) in talking about “The Roles of Teachers and Learners” in the Classroom of Communicative Language Teaching Today argues that learners now had to participate in classroom activities that were based on a cooperative rather than individualistic approach to learning. Students had to become comfortable with listening to their peers in group work or pair work tasks, rather than relying on the teacher for a model. And teachers now had to assume the role of facilitator and monitor. Rather than being a model for correct speech and writing and one with the primary responsibility of making students produce plenty of error-free sentences, the teacher had to develop a different view of learners’ errors and of her/his own role in facilitating language learning.
Brown (2001: 200-202) in Teaching by Principles, An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy, particularly in talking about teacher’s roles and styles, acknowledges that a teacher has to play many roles. Think of the possibilities: authority figure, leader, knower, director, manager, counselor, guide, and even such roles as friend, confidante, and parent. Depending on the country your are in, on the institution in which you are teaching, on the type of course, and on the makeup of your students, some of these roles will be more prominent than others, especially in the eyes of your students.
For growing comfortable and confident in playing multiple roles, teachers should have a willing acceptance of many ways that students will perceive you, and a consistent fairness to all students equally. Know ourselves, limitations, strengths, likes, and then accept the fact that we are called upon to be many things to many different people. Then, as we become more comfortable with say, being an authority figure, be consistent in all your dealings with students. There is something quite unsettling about a teacher who is a sympathetic friend to some students and a dispassionate authority figure to others. Such waffling in playing out your roles can set students against each other, with many feeling shut out from an inner circle of “teacher’s pets”.
Harmer (2007) in How to Teach English, particularly in describing good teachers states that most people can look back at their own schooldays and identify teacher they thought were good. But generally they find it quite hard to say why certain teachers struck them as special. Perhaps it was because of their personality. Possibly it was because they had interesting things to say. Maybe the reason was that they looked as if they loved their job, or perhaps their interest in their students’ progress was compelling. Sometimes, it seems, it was just because the teacher was a fascinating person!
One of the reasons that it is difficult to give general descriptions of good teachers is that different teachers are often successful in different ways. Some teachers are more extrovert or introvert than others, for example, and different teachers have different strengths and weaknesses. A lot will depend, too, on how students view individual teachers and here again, not all students will share the same opinions.
It is often said that ‘good teachers are born, not made’ and it does seem that some people have a natural affinity for the job. But there are also others, perhaps, who do not have what appears to be a natural gift but who are still effective and popular teachers. Such teachers learn their craft through a mixture of personality, intelligence, knowledge and experience (and how they reflect on it). And even some of the teachers who are apparently ‘born teachers’ weren’t like that at the beginning at all, but grew into the role as they learnt their craft.
I think, teaching is not an easy job, but it is a necessary one that can be very rewarding when we see our students’ progress and know that we have helped to make it happen. It is true that some lessons and students can be difficult and stressful at times, but it is also worth remembering that at its best teaching can also be extremely enjoyable.
Van Lier (1990: 38) in Brumfit and Mitchell (eds) when dealing with the discussion of Truth and Causality of Classroom Research argues “ … a simple causal view is inappropriate in classroom research for one every uncontroversial reason, namely, that teaching does not cause learning.” According to him, many times learning takes place without teaching, and, perhaps, equally often, the teaching event is not followed by a learning event. Quoting von Humboldt’s statement, he adds “ … many years ago teaching language was not possible, one could only create the conditions for learning to be possible. Lest the attentive readers reply that teaching is no more than creating the conditions that cause learning”.
Other experts view that teachers’ competence is sometimes not the representative of their educational level. Bartels (1999: 46-47) states that there is an evidence that teacher education does not work by ‘transferring’ appropriate knowledge to student teachers or by imposing a proper model of language and language teaching, but by interacting with the knowledge of each student teacher to form new individual knowledge structures. In the same way, Gutiersez Almarza (1996: 69) in Bartels (1999), based on her study of four language teachers in a one-year teacher certification program, concludes that “ … at the end of the course, they left with different kinds of knowledge about the dynamics of teaching and learning languages. To a considerable extent these variations were rooted in their pertaining knowledge.”
Her statements want to underline that teacher education should not be a question of imposing traditional or progressive teaching models on student teachers. It should be about establishing connections with the student teachers’ personal understanding and building on their knowledge. In order to do that, there must be more understanding of the kinds of knowledge teachers and teacher students have.
Omaggio (1986: 427-430) in Teaching Language in Context, Proficiency-Oriented Instruction, when talking about “Student Perceptions of Teacher Effectiveness: Some Research Results” reports that in one study of student attitudes (Omaggio, 1982), the results of his research clearly and emphatically indicated that those teachers who personalized their classrooms most were judged most effective by students and supervisors alike. The high correlations between amount of personalized talk and rank order in teacher effectiveness ratings showed that students judged such teachers significantly better than their peers judged teachers whose classrooms were neutral environments. In comments solicited from the end-of-semester evaluation forms, it was clear that the most appreciated aspects of the personalized classroom environment included such things as opportunities to converse with others, instructors’ warmth and personal interest, and the general interest and variety of activities. Students whose teachers failed to personalize to any significant extent complained that classes were generally dull, followed a stale routine, and gave them little opportunity for real conversation.
Malik et al (2003: 521-522) in their study about the Competency of University Teachers at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, found out their views regarding the competence being possessed by the teachers and suggestions for its enhancement, that students were well aware of the component out s needed and those possessed by their teachers. They suggested that the teachers must not only possess latest knowledge, but also be sympathetic, regular, punctual, friendly and free from any prejudice.
It seems that the importance of a teacher in an educational system cannot be stressed too far both from the students and national points of view on supreme task of promoting national ideal and building up national character of strong foundation falls. According to Kakkar (2001) in Malik (2003), the teacher of today is not a mere purveyor of lessons in a classroom. He is instead an individual who is of course not only interested in children acquire knowledge and skills but also equally involved in his total development. Keeping in view the importance of a teacher more than that mentioned above, an ideal teacher is expected to possess some attributes like proficiency in the subject, moral health, physical and mental fitness, professional training and devotion to the profession so that he may have an exemplary personality and out look for the students.
Proficiency in the subject, physical fitness and moral health of the teacher have been identified as the most important qualifications in addition to the professional training. That is why an utmost effort is made to select such persons as teachers who are fully competent for the performance of duties as teacher. In this regard Sorenson (1984) in Malik et all (2003) was of the view that all teachers at all levels should be strongly competent in the subjects they teach and must have sound body of knowledge about the students’ physiology and psychology. While presenting Islamic point of view states that the teacher has to follow the role and sayings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) for being an effective teacher because the teaching is blessing and privilege in the Islamic society. In the light of above mentioned deliberations, it goes without saying that in addition to mastery of subject matter, sufficient professional training is also required to communicate information and knowledge to the students effectively.
Crow and Crow (1991) in Malik et al (2003) have placed increasing emphasis upon the basic areas of competence which include mastery of subject matter, understanding of human nature, interest in continued professional improvement, knowledge of availability to apply the principles of teaching etc. In this regard, they suggested that real reward of true teacher lies in the deep satisfaction, he feels in watching students grow in their understanding of themselves and of their world, in seeing them develop self-reliance, initiative and sense of responsibility and at observing their learning of facts, skills, habits and attitudes that are involved in becoming constructive citizens in a modern world.
Now, it becomes clear that keeping mastery of subject aside, the professional training is must to handle students and maintain proper discipline through effective teaching-learning skills. However, in developing countries particularly in Indonesia this important aspect is given least consideration while considering competencies required for University teachers. Thereby, a survey was conducted to determine the views of selected students of the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad with regard to the teachers’ effectiveness and competencies.
Padwad and Dixit (2008) in their paper entitled Impact of Professional Learning Community Participation on Teachers' Thinking about Classroom Problems believe that teacher education seems to exhibit a shift from product-oriented mode to social constructivist, process-oriented mode of working. The emergence of professional learning communities (PLCs) of teachers may be seen as one manifestation of this shift. PLCs are increasingly seen as an effective channel for teacher learning and professional development.
Classrooms, the sites of educational business, are often metaphorically equated to battlefields, where teacher-soldiers have to wage a war of education against all odds. Classrooms are sites riddled with innumerable problems, and teachers are those who have to face them immediately and directly. The success of the war depends on how effectively these problems are dealt with. This requires, on the one hand, minimizing the occurrence of problems, and on the other, equipping teachers to confront them effectively. Teacher education is usually concerned with the latter, and seeks a clear focus on continuous professional development. One popular and prevalent way of addressing this has been organizing training programs, short courses, and academic sessions that are normally "one-off" events.
I think it is time now to talk much about the teachers competence as a shelter of teacher professionalism in doing their holy job, teaching, that has been proven from time to time as ‘doctors of education’ and will be hoped as the actors of changes to human development all over the world. The belief on teachers competence is not a sudden event, but it provides an axiom “without teachers, we are useless”. This axiom reminds us all to think that teachers are certain people who have certain competency to guide students so that they will have certain competencies as needed wherever, whenever, and however they are and whatever they will do.
Competence here is conceptualized in terms of types of knowledge and aspects of practice. Each competence is further analyzed into constituents. For instance, under ‘can demonstrate knowledge of theoretical approaches to language and language learning’ there are five elements, one of which is ‘can understand that recent approaches to language teaching view language as a socio-cultural meaning system’; this is in turn supported by the performance indicators ‘identifies the main features of spoken and written language as social interactive processes’ and examples. Strong and Hogan (1994: 10) in Bartels (1999) point out that the advantages of setting forth a statement on competence include the provision of a common language of skills and knowledge across the various teaching sectors’ and the preservation of existing gains in standards and the alignment of the profession.
Competency is a term used extensively by different people in different contexts. So it is defined in different ways. Teacher education and job performance of a teacher are the contexts in which this term is used. Competencies are the requirements of a competency based teacher education, which includes knowledge, skills and values the trainee teacher must demonstrate for successful completion of the teacher education program. A few characteristics of a competency are (1) a competency consists of one or more skills whose mastery would influence the its attainment, (2) a competency has its linkage with all the three domains under which performance can be assessed, covering the domains of knowledge, skill and attitude, (3) competencies are observable and demonstrable, and (4) because the competencies are observable, they are also measurable and assessable a competency from the performance of a teacher. It is not necessary that all competencies of a teacher have the same extent of knowledge, skill and attitude.
There may be some competencies of a teacher which have the same extent of knowledge, skill and attitude. There maybe some competencies involving more of knowledge than skill and attitude, whereas, some competencies may be skill/performance loaded. You know that there are a large number of instructional and related activities to be performed by the teacher inside and outside the classroom. These activities are of varied types. The effective organization of these activities would require that a teacher possesses a certain amount of knowledge and also certain attitudes and skills. This is known as teacher competence. In other words, teacher competence refers to "the right way of conveying units of knowledge, application and skills to students". The right way here includes knowledge of content, processes, methods and means of conveying content.
Any definition of teacher competence depends on teaching in a particular setting, the culture and values held in the community. It also depends on the innumerable teacher and student characteristics and the classroom context. Nevertheless, in order to know if we possess the necessary competencies in a given situation, we have to be judged on the basis of our ability to produce certain effects. But, there are as many ways of being effective as there are effects. Moreover, there could be disagreement even amongst ourselves over the effects that a teacher is expected to produce. It calls for value judgments and decisions as to how we with to view teaching. The research studies conducted so far indicate that there does not exist a single set of competencies which all the effective teachers possess or all the ineffective ones lack. We should collect information regarding when, how, who and what the purpose of each competency is most likely to be useful to. In other words, the concept of teacher competence is highly situational one and involves value judgments when one absolute set of competencies is effective in relation to all kinds of learner groups. There are many different sets that are relevant.
There seem to be different ways of classifying teacher competencies. One has to look at it in terms of teacher functions. Essentially, teachers have two major roles in the classroom: (i) to create the conditions under which learning can take place i.e. the social side of teaching and (ii) to impart, by a variety of means, 'knowledge' to their learners - the task oriented side of teaching. The first we could term as the 'enabling' or management function and the second, the instructional function. These complement each other as the latter would be, more or less impossible without the former. In practice, it is very difficult to separate the two and often, one performs both functions simultaneously.
Hargreaves (1983) in Bartels (1999: 64) in a discussion of ITT claims that teacher trainees are primarily concerned with ‘what I do when … ’ type issues. In the same paper he suggests that five types of issue relating to professional knowledge and performance are of interest to teachers. They are (1) class management: The teacher’s authority, and the ability to control and organize the classroom, (2) Pedagogy: The content and the methods of a lesson, involving selection, presentation, sequence and pace, (3) Continuity and coherence: The link between lessons to make up a course …; links between subjects: links between year groups …, (4) School structures and cultures: The structure of the whole curriculum and how it is allocated between groups: staff cultures and styles of working, and (5) The school in the context of the educational system: The different types of school and the interrelationships and relations with other aspects of the education system as a whole.
Leung and Teasdale in Lomax and McGrath (1999: 57) in their paper entitled ESL Teacher Competence: Professional Education and the Nature of Professional Knowledge report that educational achievement has been a primary focus of British educational policy since the mid 1980s. The introduction of a National Curriculum for schools is part of a larger strategy which includes setting benchmarks in order to raise educational standards. The Department for Education and Employment has published (DIEE, 1997) new standards for Qualified Teacher Status as well as English and Mathematics curricula for the initial training of primary teachers. It is understood that these standards and curricula will be extended to cover the secondary phase in the near future.
Teacher competence as a concept changes over time. For instance, Troman (1996) in Leung and Teasdale (1999: 59) traces the shifts in the official construction of the ‘good’ primary school teacher in England over a period of twenty years. In the late 1970s the idea of the generalist primary teachers was reshaped to highlight three qualities: the ability to match curriculum standards to children’ potentials, the ability to differentiate work according to the range of children’s abilities according to common principles, and the ability to draw on subject expertise.
Strevens (1977: 21-22) in New Orientation in the Teaching of English views that the general effectiveness of language training and teaching in any given country is heavily dependent on the nature and quality of the training which teachers undergo before entering their profession. Just as there is a great range of different kinds of learners, different aims, different standards of achievement, so there exists also a great range of teacher training courses. Nevertheless, it is possible to attempt a set of generalizations which embody the essential variables.
Training a teacher entails the selection of potentially suitable individuals (and by implication, the elimination of unsuitable applicants); the continuing personal education of the trainee so that the teacher can be seen to be a member of the educated sector of the community; general training as a teacher irrespective of specialization; and special training a s language teacher.
Brown (2001: 166-168) in Teaching by Principles, An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy in discussing “Interactive Language Teaching I: Initiating Interaction” states that teachers can play many roles in the course of teaching. Just as parents are called upon to be many things to their children, teachers cannot be satisfied with only one role. Quoting Rebecca Oxford et al. (1988), he points out that teacher roles are often best described in the form of metaphor: teacher as manufacturer, teacher a doctor, teacher as judge, teacher as gardener, and others.
He then suggests that as teachers we will find another set of metaphors to describe a spectrum of possibilities of teacher roles, some of which are more conducive to creating an interactive classroom than others. The metaphors related to the teacher’s job are described as follows. Firstly, teacher as controller. A role that is sometimes expected in traditional educational institutions is that of ‘master’ controller, always in charge of every moment in the classroom. Master controllers determine what the students do, when they should speak, and what language forms they should use. They can often predict many student responses because everything is mapped out ahead of time, with no leeway for divergent paths. In some respects, such control may sound admirable. But for interaction to take place, the teacher must create a climate in which spontaneity can thrive, in which unrehearsed language can be performed, and in which the freedom of expression given over the students makes it impossible to predict everything that they will say and do.
Nevertheless, some control on your part is actually an important element of successfully carrying out interactive techniques. In the planning phase especially, a wise controller will carefully project how a technique will proceed, map out the initial input to students, specify directions to be given, and gauge the timing of a technique. So, granted that allowing for spontaneity of expression involves yielding certain elements of control to students, nevertheless, even in the most cooperative of interactive classrooms, the teacher must maintain come control simply to organize the class hour.
Secondly, teacher as director. Some interactive classroom time can legitimately be structured in such a way that the teacher is like a conductor of an orchestra or a director of a drama. As students engage in their rehearsed or spontaneous language performance, it is your job to keep the process following smoothly and efficiently. The ultimate motive of such direction, of course, must always be to enable students eventually to engage in the real-life drama of improvisation as each communicative event brings its own uniqueness.
Thirdly, teacher as manager. This metaphor captures your role as one who plans lessons, modules, and curses, and structures the largest, longer segments of classroom time, but who then allows each individual player to be creative within those parameters. Managers of successful corporations, for example, retain control of certain larger objectives of the company, keep employees pointed toward goals, engage in ongoing evaluation and feedback, but give freedom to each person to work in his or her own individual areas of expertise. A language class should not be markedly different.
Fourthly, teacher as facilitator. A less directive role might be described as facilitating the process of learning, of making learning easier for students: helping them to clear away roadblocks, to find shortcuts, to negotiate rough terrain. The facilitating role requires that you step away from the managerial or directive role and allow students, with your guidance and gentle prodding, to find their own pathway to success. A facilitator capitalizes on the principle of intrinsic motivation by allowing students to discover language through using it pragmatically, rather than by telling them about language.
Finally, teacher as resource. This is the less directive role. In fact, the implication of the resource role is that the student takes the initiative to come to you. You are available for advice and counsel when the student seeks it. It is of course not practical to push this metaphor to an extreme where you would simply walk into a classroom and say something like, “Well, what do you want to learn today?” Some degree of control, of planning, of managing the classroom is essential. But there are appropriate times when you can literally take a back seat and allow the students to proceed with their own linguistic development.
In almost the same way, Harmer (2007: 23-24) states that when we walk into lesson, students get an idea of who we are as a result of what we look like (how we dress, how we present ourselves) and the way we behave and react to what is going on. They take note, either consciously or subconsciously, of whether we are always the same or whether we can be flexible, depending on what is happening at a particular point in the lesson.
Teachers, like any other group of human beings, have individual differences. However, one of the things, perhaps, that differentiates us from some other professions, is that we become different people, in a way, when we are in front of a class from the people we are in other situations, such as at home or at a party. Everyone switches roles like this in their daily lives to some extent, but for teachers, who we are (or appear to be) when we are at work is especially important.” So, who teachers are in the class depend on personality, adaptability, and teacher roles.
He also acknowledges that our physical presence can play a large part in our management of the classroom environment. And it’s not just appearance either (though that was clearly an issue for the secondary student). The way we move and stand, and the degree to which we are physically demonstrative can have a clear effect on the management of the class. Most importantly, the way we are able to respond to what happens in class, the degree to which we are aware of what is going on, often marks the difference between successful teaching and less satisfactory lessons (pages 34-36).
All teachers, like all people, have their own physical characteristics and habits, and they will take these into the classroom with them. But there are a number of issues to consider which are not just matters of personality or style and which have a direct bearing on the students’ perception of us. hose issues are proximity, appropriacy, movement, and awareness.
Feez and Joyce (2002: 21-35) in Text-Based Syllabus Design when discussing “the process of learning language is a series of scaffolded developmental steps which address different aspects of language” assert that the methodology applied within the genre approach is based on the work of the Russian psychologist Vygotsky (1934/1978) and the American educational psychologist Bruner (1986). Vygotsky proposed that, in any given area of skills, knowledge or understanding, each learner has two levels of development: a level of independent performance, and a ‘level of potential performance’ which is made possible through social interaction and joint construction with ‘more capable others’ such as parents or teachers.
The gaps between these two levels Vygotsky called ‘the zone of proximal development’. A learning model based on Vygotsky’s concepts of development suggests two things about language learning: (a) If a teacher is only concerned with what students can already do with language ie with their existing level of independent performance, then the students will never progress and (b) If a teacher supports students so that they move through the zone of proximal development to their potential level of performance, real learning and progress is possible.
This model also suggests that input alone is not enough for students to reach their potential. Vygotsky proposes that learning is a collaboration between teacher and student with the teacher taking on an authoritative role similar to that of an expert supporting an apprentice. He points out that this collaboration always involves language in the form of a dialogue between teacher and student. Bruner (1986: 74) used the term scaffolding to describe the teacher’s role in the learning collaboration.
Through joint construction the teacher and the student develop texts together and share the responsibility for performance until the student has the knowledge and skills to perform independently and with sole responsibility. And, through scaffolding the teacher provides support for the students. This is done by providing explicit knowledge and guided practice. The teacher explicitly contributes what students are not yet able to do or do not know and adjusts the contribution as students move through the zone of proximal development towards their potential level of independent performance.
Hoi YHoi et al (2008: 143-156) when conducted a study entitled Teachers of Gifted Students in Hong Kong: Competencies and Characteristics report that their study was successful in exposing about the significant differences in all desired characteristics and competencies, except for competency in counseling. They concluded that overall, the results of their study may indicate that in-service teachers who have received some kind of training in teaching gifted students benefit by having higher desirable characteristics and competencies than their counterparts who have not received any training at all in this area.
Kwok-lun and Lew (1981) in their paper “The Criteria of Teacher Competence as Perceived by Students, Student-Teachers and Serving Teachers in Hong Kong” state that research on teacher competence has been an important subject of inquiry in education. For years, educators are concerned with the qualities of teacher essential to effective teaching and learning. Yet findings in this area have been inconclusive. Without knowing the criteria of good teaching, teachers have to judge their performance by experience.
Reddy and Sujathamalini (2005) in their study about “Awareness, Attitude and Competencies of Normal School Teachers” argue that the success of inclusive education programs to the disabled children to a large extent depends on the teachers’ awareness, attitude and competencies to deal children who are differently able in the regular classroom. The organizational, teaching & learning and guidance & counseling activities should be tuned to meet the individual need of the learners. It is natural that awareness leads to formation of better attitudes and in turn they transform into better competencies.
As the study clearly reveals that there is a positive significant correlation between awareness & attitude, awareness & existing competencies, and attitude & existing competencies of the normal school teachers, there is a need to integrate the awareness, attitude and competency development programs in one umbrella by involving print as well as electronic media. Audio and video cassettes can be developed on different aspects of disabilities such as concept of disabilities, etiology of disabilities, ways and means of identification & assessment, development of educational programs keeping in mind the strengths and weaknesses of disabled children, providing guidance & counseling appropriately to the parents and children with disabilities. Such audio and video cassettes can be supplied to all the normal schools and teacher training institutions.
Smith (2005) in his paper “Fifty-One Competencies for Online Instruction” acknowledges that the effectiveness of distance learning must be measured in results—quality learning. Learner-center programs and competent instructors are two oft-cited keys to success in higher education. Teaching online requires specific skill sets (competencies).
Malik et (2003: 521-523) in their study “Identification of University Teachers Competencies as Perceived by the Students” found out that as the result of survey, it was revealed that a majority of respondents were well aware of the attributes of a good teacher. However, most of them were not satisfied with regard to the possession of qualities like competencies in subject matter, teaching techniques, understanding of human psychology and behavior free from all types of prejudice. In the circumstances, it is recommended that short term teachers training program be made compulsory for all the University teachers especially the fresh entrants. It must contain aspects like teaching methodology, educational psychology, use of audio-visual aids, evaluation techniques etc.
Veilleux & Bournot-Trites (2005: 487-507) in their research “Standards for the Language Competence of French Immersion Teachers: Is There a Danger of Erosion?” try to examine standards used by Canadian universities and British Columbia school districts to verify the language competence of French Immersion (FI) teachers in a time of teacher shortage, confirmed by 56 per cent of school districts surveyed. They argue that there is no guarantee for this level of teachers’ competence because of heterogeneity in universities and school districts language measures and lack of validity and reliability for many of those measures. This may result in lowering teaching quality in FI programs.
education in FI schools and the success of the program.
Sa’ari, et al (2005: 1144) in their research “Attitudes and Perceived Information Technology: Competency among Teachers” aiming at measuring teachers’ attitudes and perceived competency towards information technology (IT). The results revealed that most teachers possess positive attitudes towards IT. The findings also established that most teachers have moderate levels of IT competency. They also believe that they still lack the appropriate IT skills to integrate the technology into the teaching and learning process.
Their research reveals that several positive attitudes toward new technologies. They seem to find IT more useful and have greater confidence, lower levels of anxiety and aversion toward using computers. This shows that teachers are proactive in today’s challenge where IT plays a part in the education system. Teachers’ attitudes must always be commensurate with the right attitude needed to face the current technology, which always evolves without limitations.
In fact, and this might become a general truth, that there is a need for teachers to improve their skills through frequent use, and practice, in order for them to successfully use any technology in teaching. This is because there is no reason to believe that the technology evolution will stop. Therefore, training programs must be added, removed or revised, as new technologies evolve.
Education is always concerned with the development of the potential of individuals for the future, not only among students but also among teachers. Therefore, teachers must understand that learning how to use computers does not play a part only in accumulating knowledge and new skills, but also that a greater part of learning is the result of trial-and-error endeavors in normal life. Therefore, teachers ought to have the courage to try new skills without apprehension, so that they are able to act as agents of change to fulfill the national aspirations enunciated in the philosophy of Malaysian education.
Fitzsimons (1997) in his research THE GOVERNANCE OF TEACHER COMPETENCY STANDARDS IN NEW ZEALAND underlines that competency standards for teachers have re-emerged as an issue for education. Their purpose has been asserted as: assisting in the governance of education; legitimating the system; improving the standard of pupil achievement and the quality of learning; improving the quality of teaching; raising the standard of teacher education; and promoting teaching as a profession.
Teacher’s voice and body language
Brown (2001: 192-206) when talking about “Classroom Management” asserts that classroom management encompasses an abundance of factors ranging from how you physically arrange the classroom, to teaching ‘styles’. In other words, it covers the physical environment of the classroom, teacher’s voice and body language, Unplanned teaching: Midstream lesson changes, teaching under adverse circumstances, teacher’s roles and styles, and creating a positive classroom climate. This paper just presents two of them: teacher’s voice and body language and teacher’s roles and styles.
He acknowledges that one of the first requirements of good teaching is good voice projection. We do not have to be aloud, booming voice, but we need to be heard by all the students in the room. When we talk, project our voice so that the person sitting farthest away from we can hear you clearly. If we are directing comments to a student in the row sitting right in front of us, remember that in a whole-class work, all the rest of the students need to be able to hear that comment. As we speak, articulate clearly; remember, these students are just learning English, and they need every advantage they can get.
Our voice is not the only production mode available to you in the classroom. Nonverbal messages are very powerful. In language classes, where students may not have all the skills they need to decipher verbal language, their attention is drawn to nonverbal communication.
Another thing teacher should consider is cultural expectations. Adapted from Hofstede (1986), Brown (2001) asserts that western cultures emphasize non-directive, nonauthoritarian roles and teaching styles in the right-hand column in the list above. One major consideration, therefore, in the effectiveness of playing roles and developing styles is the culture in which our are teaching and the culture of our students.
The Good Language Teachers
Brown (2001: 429-430) believes that one best way to begin setting goals and priorities is to consider the qualities of successful language teachers. Numerous “experts” have come up with their lists of attributes, and they all differ in a variety of ways. The eight foals for continuing career growth cited at the beginning of this chapter are one example of a list of attributes of a “good’ language teacher.
Harold B. Allen (1980) in Brown (2001) once offered the following down-to-earth list of characteristics of good ESL teachers: (1) Competent preparation leading to a degree in TESL, (2) A love of the English language, (3) Critical thinking, (4) The persistent urge to upgrade oneself, (5) Self-subordination, (6) Readiness to go the extra mile, (7) Cultural adaptability, (8) Professional citizenship, and (9) A feeling of excitement about one’s work.
According to him, those nine items contain a good deal of grist for the professional growth mills. How would we rate ourselves on all nine? Any room for improvement on any of them? If so, we have some goal-setting to do.
Harmer (2007: 51-53) in “How to Teach English” when talking about “Elements of Successful Language Learning (ESA)” argues that most current language teaching tries to offer a judicious blend of many of the ideas and elements. It recognizes the value of language exposure through comprehensible input, while still believing that most people (apart from young children) find chances to concentrate on language forms and how they can be used extremely helpful.
Current language teaching practice generally gives students the opportunity to think about how a piece of grammar works (or which words grow together, for example), while at the same time providing opportunities for language use in communicative activities and task-based procedures. It offers students the security of appropriate controlled practice (depending on variables such as the students’ age, personal learning styles and the language in question), while also letting them have a go at using all and any language they know.
Conclusion and Suggestion
What I mean by teacher competence here is an intellectual potency that exists in teacher’s mind and which is realized in doing his/her job professionally. It indicates that teacher competence refers to the ability of teacher to help, guide, and counsel his/her students so that his/her students can get good achievement.
In reality, to get good competence is an easy task. While taking too much burden on teaching tasks at school, a teacher is sometimes faced with a lot of tasks outside his/her daily routines at home or other places. Again, this problem needs teacher competence to be able to solve it.
By understanding our competence and doing our job as teachers professionally, I think, the government has provided us a great chance to improve our salary. I suggest that let us do our job best. If not us, who; if not now, when.
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Sunday, February 8, 2009
TEACHER’S COMPETENCE AND STUDENTS’ ACHIEVEMENT