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The basic objective of all education systems is to improve learning outcomes. In both conventional and Montessori programs, students are expected to “know more, have better skills, and show deeper understanding of content” (NACATE, 2001, p. 1). Moreover, they are expected to apply the knowledge that they have acquired in school. Attempts to meet these expectations have traditionally focused on restructuring schools and reforming the standards of education. According to (NACATE, 2001, p. 1), these initiatives can only be beneficial if teacher quality is also improved. This means that educational reforms should also focus on professional preparation and development in order to improve teacher quality. It is against this backdrop that this paper discusses the intellectual, spiritual, physical, didactic, and moral development of educators. It will also shed light on the role and responsibilities of schools in supporting guides through their development.
Intellectual and Didactic Development
Teachers are the most important assets in the education system since schools depend almost entirely on them to achieve their goals. Thus, teachers should prepare for their roles by acquiring both secular and religious knowledge, as well as, the pedagogical skills that are relevant in the contemporary world. Intellectual formation occurs through professional development and training programs that aim at improving the proficiency of teachers in specific content areas. Palmer (2007, p. 49) asserts that “in midlife we face a choice between stagnation and generativity”. In this regard, teachers must opt for continuous intellectual development in order to improve their effectiveness in teaching.
This can be achieved if teachers are motivated to grow as professionals who are able to select and employ appropriate instructional methods. Acquiring adequate knowledge in specific content areas enables teachers to monitor the progress of their students in the learning progress. Moreover, it enables educators to design realistic and meaningful individual lesson plans that improve student achievement. Intelligent teachers aspire to promote intellectual, human, spiritual, and apostolic formation of learners. In this regard, teachers must recognize the fact that intellectual development among students must occur concurrently with their spiritual and emotional maturity. Moreover, they should be able to identify the instructional techniques that are suitable for meeting the learning needs of each gender.
Intellectual development can also occur as teachers gain experience in their teaching careers. Adequate experience in teaching enables educators to identify the differentiated instructional methods that are suitable for every situation. This enables them to create excellent and enjoyable learning experiences that facilitate the achievement of course objectives. Intellectual development among teachers also focuses on the ability to manage a class. Through experience, teachers can improve their classroom management skills tremendously. Standing (1984, p. 301) emphasizes the importance of classroom management skills by asserting that “Montessori compares the directress to a humble laborer who works at the task of building up the child’s freedom. This lowly task requires minute knowledge and patient attention.” This means that teachers should demonstrate their interest in facilitating learning among students through teaching and effective management of their classes.
Teachers can use their intellect to benefit their students if they have the best teaching techniques. Didactic development enables teachers to acquire skills that are integral in the process of imparting knowledge. Didactic development occurs when teachers endeavor to grow professionally by keeping abreast with the emerging knowledge and expertise in specific content areas. It also involves making an effort to achieve a higher professional degree. The main objective of didactic development is to enable teachers to acquire more knowledge and deep understanding of pedagogical techniques. This objective can be achieved by allowing teachers to participate in professional development programs and obtaining advice from more experienced educators such as school principles. Furthermore, teachers must focus on continuous intellectual, human, and spiritual development with the aid of the resources and the means provided by their schools.
Standing (1984, p. 299) highlights the link between intellectual and spiritual development by asserting that “there are two sins in particular, which tend to distort our true vision of the child. They are pride and anger. Hence, humility and patience are the virtues most needed by the would be directress.” In most cases, teachers fail to demonstrate humility and patience by focusing on intellectual development at the expense of their spiritual formation. In response to this observation, Standing (1984, p. 298) opine that a teacher “must study how to purify her heart and render it burning with charity towards the child. She must put on humility and above all, learn how to serve.” Tolle (2005, p. 300) emphasizes the importance of spiritual awareness by asserting that awakened “consciousness then takes over from ego and begins to run your life. You may then find that an activity that you have been engaged in for a long time naturally begins to expand into something much bigger when it becomes empowered by consciousness.” The implication of this statement is that spiritual development guides teachers to use their intellect in the best way in order to enhance student achievement. Spiritual development occurs when teachers actively build deep and intimate relationships with Christ. In this regard, teachers’ choices and actions must be informed by the principles of Christianity.
Spiritual development involves a consistent search for understanding and appreciation of faith through “religious formation that is equal to the teachers’ general, cultural, and professional formation” (Miller, 2006, p. 5). It enables teachers to collaborate with the stakeholders of their schools, thereby creating a community of faith. This enables faculty members, students, and parents to strengthen their faith and to set educational goals that are based the principles of Christianity. Spiritual maturity allows teachers to transform cultures by integrating spiritual teachings with the curriculum. Consequently, teachers are able to recognize the faith of their students and to encourage them to develop a close relationship with Christ. Teachers must demonstrate their spiritual maturity by taking deliberate actions to bring each soul to Christ. Additionally, they must focus on being Christian role models to their students and other stakeholders of their schools. This involves promoting coherence, practicing good manners, and interacting with students in a professional manner. As role models, teachers must understand that their actions, character, and attitudes should always promote a holistic growth among students.
Moral and Physical development
Spiritual maturity facilitates moral development because our religious beliefs and faith in Christ are often revealed in our actions and relationships with others. Moral development is important because it determines the way teachers behave. Teachers must take deliberate actions to improve their behaviors by upholding high moral standards. This improvement should be motivated by personal aspirations for behavior change rather than external forces. Tolle (2005, p. 297) agrees with this perspective by stating that “expansion and positive change on the outer level is likely to come into your life if you can enjoy what you are doing already, instead of waiting for some change so that you can start enjoying what you do.”
Moral development involves internalizing the human virtues that are acceptable in the society. The occurrence of moral development is demonstrated by the students’ ability to identify true human qualities in their educators. In order to demonstrate these qualities, teachers must teach their students the importance of understanding, listening to others, fair judgment, and showing affection (The Congregation for Catholic Education, 1988, p. 96). Teachers should demonstrate their moral maturity by recognizing the dignity of humanity. They should respect their students by devoting adequate time and energy in the process of promoting student achievement. Furthermore, teachers are expected to create an atmosphere of trust and spontaneity in order to facilitate effective interactions between them and their students. The importance of creating an environment of trust is that it enables teachers to focus on dynamic learning in which, the right content is delivered and students are allowed to ask questions.
Moral development leads to acceptable behavior among teachers. This involves exercising self-control, participating in charity, maintaining confidentiality, as well as, promoting positive conflict resolution, and teamwork. Participating in charity involves showing love for others rather than for self. In particular, it encourages teachers to help others, including their students, to achieve their best. Thus, teachers should always be optimistic and focus on finding solutions to their students’ problems rather than complaining. Maintaining confidentiality involves protecting private information about students and their families. Teachers are expected to exercise self-control by regulating their emotions, and behaving in a professional manner. By understanding their temperament, teachers can improve their character and virtues. Regarding teamwork, teachers should be able to cooperate with their school’s administrators, as well as, to support the community and their colleagues. Teachers are expected to demonstrate the peace of Christ by encouraging peaceful resolution to the conflicts that may arise in their school. This expectation can be achieved if teachers exercise their discretion and respect for others rather than engaging in violent confrontations.
Standing (1984, p. 305) highlights the importance of physical development by stating that the teacher’s “first care must be to see to it that the environment is always kept in order down to the smallest detail, always beautiful, shining and in perfect condition so that nothing is wanting”. Teachers should not only care about the learning environment, but also their physical development. As professionals, teachers should maintain their dignity through proper grooming and cleanliness. They should also promote organization and cleanliness in their classrooms in order to create an environment that facilitates academic excellence and fosters human virtues in students.
The Role of Schools in the Development of Guides
The roles and responsibilities of schools in the development of guides include the following. First, schools promote professional development by creating a work environment that facilitates intellectual, spiritual, and moral development among guides. In most cases, guides work with their supervisors to develop personal plans that specify the goals of their professional development. The goals focus on areas such as planning, classroom management, instruction, and student formation. The supervisors usually monitor the guides’ progress towards the achievement of their professional development goals by giving them the advice and technical support that they need. Schools also promote professional development among guides through orientation, professional development days, training, and access to professional publications.
Second, schools are responsible for the evaluation of teachers. The aim of teacher evaluations is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of teachers. The evaluations normally focus on areas such as the teachers’ ability to teach, manage their classrooms, form students, and to interact with the school’s stakeholders effectively (National Consultants for Education, 2006, pp. 1-25). The evaluations also include teacher classroom observation. These observations are important because they help schools to ensure that teachers are delivering the right content, as well as, to identify the areas for improvement among guides. This helps guides to take timely measures to reduce their weaknesses. Fourth, schools promote spiritual development among guides by providing religious teachings and advice through their chaplains. Finally, schools are responsible for fostering good leadership qualities among guides (Deuink & Herbster, 1986, pp. 1-30). Development of leadership skills can be done through training programs that focuses on both professional and spiritual aspects of leadership. In addition, guides are usually given responsibilities such as managing classes in order to strengthen their leadership skills.
What I Learned in the Quest for Deeper Spirituality
Throughout my career as a professional teacher, I have learnt the following concepts about spiritual development and its importance to guides. First, guides should endeavor to form students by encouraging them to internalize the virtues that are essential in the life of a Christian. In particular, guides should foster human virtues in their students in order to enable them to serve the society and the church. Second, guides can improve their spiritual growth by taking part in the evangelization of the Gospel of Christ. In this regard, guides should not only participate in church activities, but also incorporate spiritual teachings in their lessons. This strategy facilitates the spiritual formation of students. Third, guides should perceive their roles as a vocation rather than a mere profession. The duty of a guide is a supernatural calling that is underpinned by the biblical principle of pursuing that, which benefits others rather than the self (Pope Paul VI, 1965, p. 8). Thus, guides should perceive themselves as apostles of Christ whose mission is to promote academic, spiritual, apostolic, and social development among students. Finally, guides should mentor students by spreading the Gospel and striving to help others to build a close relationship with Christ. By spreading the Gospel, guides strengthen their faith and improve their understanding of the role of spiritual development in their careers.
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Intellectual, spiritual, moral, physical, and didactic development is integral in the process of teacher formation. These aspects of professional development are important because they influence teacher quality. Concisely, they guide teachers to make informed decisions and to behave appropriately in order to improve student achievement. Schools play an important role in the formation of teachers. The roles and responsibilities of schools in professional development include evaluating teachers; providing training and learning materials; and supporting teachers to grow professionally. The role of a guide is a supernatural calling. Thus, guides should focus on spiritual development in order to help their students.
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