Tuesday, 10 May 2016

OCCUPATIONAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL ISSUES

The Cohen et al Model explains why investment in professional development development by low capacity schools and school systems often has no effect or negative effect on morale and performance. An organization should be able to  :
Þ   support the teacher in navigating the complex interactions among the new skills and knowledge he/she has acquired, existing patterns of student engagement and the modifications to curricula and content that may be necessary to execute the new practices in this particular setting with these particular students.
Þ   Offer consistent messages to principals, teachers and students about what goals are most important and what resources are available to support the work of meeting them.
Þ   Make no judgements about performance of teachers and students without first ensuring that the conditions for high performance have been met
Þ   Have no expectations from its people to demonstrate knowledge and skills that they haven‘t had the opportunity to learn.

These conditions create a formidable agenda of organizational redesign for most schools and school systems. For this the organizational system would have to;
Þ   Have considerable expertise about the instructional practices they expect teachers to acquire. That expertise would have to entail, not just teaching teachers how to teach differently, but actually working with teachers in their classrooms to solve problems of practice in a way that supports continuous improvement.
Þ   Manage its resources to support and fund the work of teachers and professional developers in sustained interaction.
Þ   Set priorities, clearly stating what problems of instructional practice are central and which peripheral to overall improvement before deciding how to allocate professional development resources. Schools would have to become learning environments for teachers as well as for students.
Þ   Make public and authoritative distinctions among teachers and administrators based on quality, competence, expertise and performance.
Þ   Identify people who know what to do, to develop the capacity of those in the organization to learn what to do and to create settings in which people who know what to do teach those who don‘t.
 Effective professional development requires the development of expertise as an organizational capacity and this requires differentiated organizational roles.
The issues that need to be looked into are;
Þ   Objective and comprehensive evaluation of teachers.
Þ   The belief that all teachers are equal in their skill and knowledge. This undermines the possibility that teachers can learn from each other in powerful ways, as well as learning from experts who are not part of their immediate circle of colleagues.
Þ   Teaching is a largely undifferentiated occupation.
Þ   Teachers work in isolation from each other.
Þ   The culture of passivity and helplessness that pervades most institutions. Teachers and administrators learn this culture of passivity and helplessness as a consequence of working in dysfunctional organizations, not as a consequence of choosing to think and behave that way. Improving the organization will change what adults learn.
Þ   The excuse that problems of ―change‖ and improvement will require a long time and lot of money.

So the practice of improvement is about changing three things fundamentally and simultaneously:
1. The values and beliefs of people in schools about what is worth doing and what is possible to do;
2. The structural conditions under which the work is done; and
3. The ways in which people learn to do the work.
Forging working relationships in a multicultural environment requires genuine commitment, empathy, and sensitivity from administrators, educators, and staff members. Here are some key principles to remember:
Respect individual differences.
Just as teachers respect students for their uniqueness, they ought to respect colleagues for their unique values, beliefs, and opinions.
1. Get out of the comfort zone. We tend to be most comfortable with those people who are like us. But clustering with only members of our own group prevents us from getting to know our colleagues.
2. Refrain from making judgments about others. One must not use one‘s own group's standards as a frame of reference. "Different" does not mean "inferior." There is intrinsic worth in every human being.
3. Learn to communicate more effectively. Become proficient in "low context" and "high context" communication. Listen and watch closely. Be empathetic to those learning the English language. Speak slowly and distinctly (not loudly) in order to be understood.
4. Accentuate the positive. Share the positive aspects of your culture. Build up a positive environment through praise and appreciation.

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