Training teachers, as part of complete instructional delivery, is laden with series of benefits since it makes the education process more inclusive and learner oriented. By training teachers on the rights instruction delivery methodology, it is not only possible to create an inclusive education environment but also to equip the teachers with necessary resources and skills required in the dynamic instruction delivery field, irrespective of the grade or type of a classroom.
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Since time in sundry, different programs have been created to teach teachers as the education environment keeps on changing with the introduction of new technology, constant revision of the curriculum, and changes in standardized methods of teaching.
For instance, the teaching of teachers (ToTs) program has become ideal in equipping teachers with the right skills in the education environment. As a result, teaching teachers has become a necessity to ensure that the instruction deliverers remain relevant and acquire new skills to tackle any challenge that might arise in the course of instruction delivery.
There are several reasons that guarantee the success of the ToTs program. The first issue is that it takes time for people to learn things, and often years for them to master it.
This means that effective ToTs program is a blueprint for creating an inclusive learning environment that spans over a relatively long period to guarantee internalization of necessary education skills. For instance, a program on instruction delivery would create an-all-round instructor who is focused on creating of an ideal and sustainable learning environment. The second issue is that people learn differently.
Therefore, a successful ToTs program may become flexible enough to support various learning styles at instructor and learner levels. Therefore, this treatise attempts to explicitly review three strategies that are useful for ToTs in relation to my learning experience through the pre-service and in-service teacher education programs.
A large body of literature indicates that individuals have different teaching, learning, and preference styles. The learning preferences tend to differ among learners (Darling-Hammond & Sykes, 2009). The purpose of learning has in the recent years shifted from memorizing information (surface learning) to being able to find and utilize the information (deep learning).
Modern studies have indicated that learning process is constructive and not receptive (Brownell, Bishop, & Sindelar, 2008). As a result, the learner is expected to construct and understand knowledge. The learner then creates new ideas and models from the information obtained (abstract hypotheses). Finally, the learner takes action-active testing (Darling-Hammond & Sykes, 2009).
Brownell, Bishop, and Sindelar (2009) highlighted the effectiveness of using ToTs programs. They asserted that, in addition to the career teacher training, instructors who are continuously trained have a high attrition rate. Although the ToTs program is successful in many states, it should have the required credentials that provide explanations or evidence of its success rates. For instance, the South Carolina’s model has been applied in different regions across the globe, including Saudi Arabia.
To determine the effectiveness of the program, it is important to review its application and relevance. For example, Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2010) offered information concerning the relevance of ToTs program. The article examined how ToTs program has added to the overall improvement of the school’s level of accomplishment. Apparently, it has become critical for learning institutions to create programs aimed at training teachers.
Crichton, Pegler, and White (2012) explained how to improve a teacher’s performance by describing and illustrating how a competency assessment instrument should be used. Such an instrument allows one to assess for criteria and various requirements needed in imparting knowledge in the dynamic education environment.
This basic training involves the use of the problem-solving methodology, which defines the problem, gathers data, and formulates a solution to achieving an evaluation. This means that a teacher passed through the ToTs program will use the problem solving methodology in teaching (Crichton, Pegler, & White, 2012).
Teachers exploring new technologies may find that the school network is unable to support them due to inadequate wireless access, firewall restrictions, lack of bandwidth, or other issues. In a recent study of 559 Ohio teachers, participants reported that restrictions on the school firewall filtered or blocked some Web 2.0 tools for the purpose of protecting students from unwanted or inappropriate materials (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010).
However, this action not only prevented students from accessing Web 2.0 tools but also prevented and discouraged teachers from adopting these tools in their classrooms. Participants reported that acceptable use policies should be reviewed before integrating Web 2.0 tools into instructional practice (Brownell, Bishop, & Sindelar, 2008).
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In an urban Canadian district piloting iPods and iPads, staff was not prepared for the difficulties in synchronizing, powering, maintaining, and managing the devices (Crichton, Pegler, & White, 2012). Therefore, when provided with a well-maintained network, teachers can explore technologies, thus, building their knowledge base to become 21st Century teachers.
Three Training Strategies in Teacher Education Programs
Learning teams (collaborative learning)
The collaborative learning strategy is significant in addressing the knowledge age through construction of group dynamics that can be applied in real practice at the educator and learner levels. The collaborative learning functions on the aspects of invention, exploration of knowledge, solving problems, active participation, and proactive engagement of the parties involved as summarized in the figure below.
Fig. 1: Collaborative learning channel
(Source: Self generated)
There are several benefits of collaborative learning as part of training teachers in the dynamic education environment. Through collaborative learning, the instructors undergoing training are in a position to understand the aspect of discourse in instruction delivery as ideal when spoken and written communication is simplified as per the level or grade of a learner.
Since discourse connotes language, thought pattern, and knowledge application, those undergoing training are empowered to internalize the pattern of presenting written and spoken communication that guarantees complete and competent participation of the audience.
In addition, collaborative learning enables the instructor to acquire skills that can support development and sustaining relationship between word and though in the sensitive instruction delivery, especially when the class composition is diverse. In the end, it will be easy for the instructor to track and generate group learning progress besides establishing a standardized way of recognizing different facts (Driscoll, 2005).
Through collaborative learning, I was trained on how to apply the group concept in balancing the aspect of written and spoken communication as foreign English language instructor in Saudi Arabia during pre-service teacher education. Through creating a sustainable learning process, I was trained on how integrate the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) in teaching English as a second to language by instructing small groups of learners to assist each other through direct contact and discoursing (Driscoll, 2005).
The pre-service teacher education was meant to equip me with skills for ensuring that classroom learning process is transformed into an interesting and interacting activity that invokes the thought pattern of each learner into group activity that is collaborative in nature.
As part of the in-service teacher education through the mandatory vocational training programs in Saudi Arabia, I underwent series of training on how to engage all the learners in imparting group discourse, experiences, skills, ideas, and knowledge, irrespective of the level of mastery of the English language or grade of the learners.
Through collaborative learning training, I was taught how to simply lesson delivery by organizing learners into small groups as transforming the individual contribution of each learner into a group product that can be examined against set discourse standards.
Technology-base learning as part of the ToTs program involved imparting significant skills on educators to ensure that they are knowledgeable on how to apply technology to support the learning process. Technology-based learning is characterized by the use of different technological tools such as computer, videos, audio-visual presentations, iPhones, and internet among others (Crichton, Pegler, & White, 2012).
While undergoing career training as a teacher, the instructor was categorical on the importance of acquiring skills in technology-based learning in lesson execution. For instance, chart and pictures as instruments o technology-based learning will make the learning experience interesting to the minds of any grade in the classroom.
Besides, I was taught that the use of visual-audio presentation such as a simple class video would boost confidence of the learners since fear and low self esteem is a common occurrence especially when the minority or special needs learner has to cope with his/her normal counterparts.
Therefore, integration of technology-based learning enables the educator to acquire practical skills that might boost creativity and confidence in the classroom environment. Apart from the career training, I have attended series of vocational ToTs programs designed to train teacher on the latest technology-based learning and how to integrate these support services in the lesson execution.
As a foreign language teacher in Saudi Arabia, I was trained to depend on creation of a visual representational meaning called the space-based model for analysis centered on the placement of objects within the semiotic space of the learners in their classroom environment.
For instance, in practical teaching training as part of the in-service teacher education, I was trained on the importance of creating short videos/slides and giving student the opportunity to practice communication of their ideas clearly and concisely to an audience of their peers in the context of a formal class presentation. Notably, I learnt that inclusion of the class video in the learning process is important in attracting attention of the learners as part of the pre-service teacher education.
While undergoing the second year of pre-service teacher education, I was trained on the importance of integrating technology in teaching as critical in creating a creative and dynamic learning environment. As a result of this training, I am always in a position to quantify the level of understanding of the topic discussed by reflecting on the learner’s perception, distinctiveness, attentiveness, and understanding.
I was also trained on how to catch attention of learners by simplifying the lesson delivery to accommodate the interests of the fast and slow learners. For instance, under the education psychology program as part of pre-service teacher training, I was trained on the significance of giving attention according to learning level, special needs, and grades score in the rubric.
This skill ensures that learners understand different technological applications, which make instruction delivery interesting and easy to follow. From the technology-based training as part of the in-service teacher education, I was equipped with the necessary skills for balancing overdependence of technology in education by creating a lesson plan that properly fuses traditional and modern instruction delivery to encourage creativity among learners.
Brainstorming strategy as part of teacher education involves proactive engagement of the learners in a participatory approach to ensure that the instructor acquire skills for engaging active participation of all the students in a classroom. While undergoing pre-service teacher education, more than 40% of all the classes were delivered through the brainstorming strategy, which was characterized by the lecturer highlighting a topic after which each learner was expected to give his or her own opinion.
The lessons were delivered in a progressive manner within the Practice, Production, and Presentation model. We seemed to enjoy the brainstorming strategy and were fully engaged from the beginning to the end since the style of lesson delivery was characterized by humor and use of very practical examples.
While undergoing vocational training as part of the in-service learning programs designed for teachers, I underwent series of training on brainstorming strategies such as how to apply flashcards, cue-response drill, and brainstorm to teach vocabulary to the learners. For instance, I was trained to be constantly using different facial expressions when correcting the mistakes made by the learners in addition to oral presentation to ensure that the students internalize construction of different English words and phrases (Harmer, 2007).
As an instructor of English as a foreign language in Saudi Arabia, I have applied the skills from pre-service and in-service teacher education training to designed series of brainstorming lessons that are systematically structured and delivered in a humorous way to maximize level of learner engagement.
As the instructor, I have been empowered by the skills I acquired through different teacher education training to be clear, practical, and focused in delivering the lesson content through the STT format by not shying away from the interactive learning. Besides, I now understand the significance of using facial expressions and practical examples to ensure that the lesson in a success.
For instance, in one of the pre-service training lessons, my lecturer used the example of describing an experience in the cinema hall through person reflection about immediate environment and occurrences during the event. This gave him the opportunity to introduce different descriptive words since the learners could relate to the topic (Harmer, 2007).
From this lesson, I acquired knowledge on the importance of using simple and practical examples that learners can relate to as part of complete and holistic learning through past experiences. In addition, I was trained on the importance of adopting an inclusive instruction delivery and interactive lesson session as part of the basic tenets of promoting active learner participation.
As a result of the pre-service and in-service training on how to apply brainstorming strategy in instruction delivery, I have been able to customize most of my English language lessons to suit the young Saudi learners.
From the above reflection, teacher education is a vital element in the teaching profession since it gives the necessary skills to instructor. For instance, pre-service teacher education exposes a potential instructor to the teaching environment in terms of the expectations of learners and ideal approach for effective instruction delivery.
Since most of the pre-service teacher education is designed to help a potential teacher to understand the dynamics of the education environment, it is a crucial element of holistic teaching and review in any classroom setting. During such training, potential educators are empowered with practical skills for proactive learner assessment as a prerequisite for comprehensive instruction delivery.
Apart from the pre-service teacher education, in-service teacher education, in the form of continuous vocational training of teachers, is important in updating the skills that instructors have to ensure that they are relevant. Since the field of instruction delivery in education is dynamic due to series of constant modifications in teaching methods and curriculum, continuous teacher training is necessary towards ensuring the outdated skills are replaced by modern and equality dynamic teaching methods.
For instance, since the aspect of technology-based education is quickly replacing the traditional teaching approach, constant training of teachers of technology application in education can make a big difference in effective instruction delivery in the classroom environment.
Teacher education has series of benefits such as understanding discourse in verbal and written communication to balance the thought and mental perception of the learners. Lastly, these training programs empower the educators to understand the dynamics for motivating learners to actively participate in the learning process.
Brownell, M. T., Bishop, A., & Sindelar, P. (2008). NCLB and the demand for highly qualified teachers: Challenges and solutions for rural schools. Rural Education Quarterly, 24, 9-15.
Crichton, S., Pegler, K., & White, D. (2012). Personal devices in public settings: Lessons learned from an iPod touch/iPad project. Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 10(1), 23-31.
Darling-Hammond, L., & Sykes, G. (2009). Wanted: A national teacher supply policy for education: The right way to meet the “highly qualified teacher” challenge. Education Policy Analysis Archive, 11(33), 1-55.
Driscoll, M. (2005). Psychology of Learning for Instruction (3rd ed.). New York: Allyn& Bacon.
Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T. (2010). Teacher technology change: How knowledge, confidence, beliefs, and culture intersect. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(3), 255-284.
Harmer, J. (2007). The practice of English language teaching (4th ed.). Harlow, UK: Pearsons Longman.