These are exciting times to become involved in teacher education. We live, literally, in an age of possibility, one in which we are constantly experiencing huge leaps in our understanding of what becoming a teacher entails. An age in which the sky seems to be the limit as far as knowledge about teacher learning and development are concerned. Over the past twenty years, research on teacher education and, more precisely on teacher learning has experienced a renewed impetus. Driven by the need to understand why teachers succeed or fail, we have witnessed a plethora of approaches to teacher learning encompassing such disparate areas as teaching skills, teacher beliefs or teacher cognition “Being able to do something and knowing how one does it are two different aspects of being a professional...Understanding what it is one does and how one does it, involves a different aspect of professionalism: it is a matter of being intellectually expert about expert practice.”
Re-conceptualizing teacher learning
Teacher learning is a complex, life-long endeavor to which all professionals in education should commit from the onset of their careers. However, the ways in which teachers are educated around the world exhibit common patterns which are cause for concern since they directly contradict current perspectives emphasizing the collective, thus forcing newcomers to find their way into the profession in isolation and relying mostly on the transmission of “received” theories and methods. This view severely constrains the possibilities afforded to teachers to
Engage in career-long learning efforts by curtailing their chance of exploring their own and their colleagues’ practice, and rendering them incapable of producing meaningful situated knowledge about teaching and learning. It is evident from the alarming data on teacher retention that college courses are not sufficient in promoting a culture of learning as participation and that belonging to school communities proves difficult for many novice teachers. In fact, reality shows that novice teachers are generally assigned to the most difficult schools catering for the most deprived populations without providing them with adequate means to navigate those difficult waters. Those who succeed and remain in schools do so generally, at the expense of considerable emotional and academic investments. that, “Most of what teachers learn actually occurs in on-the-job initiation into the practices of teaching, rather than in professional teacher education programs.” If this is, indeed, the case, educational systems should provide novices with structures which would allow them to engage with professional learning from the moment they decide to become educators. The present volume attempts to provide one plausible response to this paradox. In advancing the case for Mentoring as a structure for teacher induction and support, we are advocating fora view of teacher learning which sees it as the commitment of individuals to action, oriented towards enhancing their practices in the context of highly situated communities and with the support of colleagues and other interested peers who are concerned with both their personal and professional growth. The essays in this volume are the product of the collective (and collegial) reflections of a group of concerned language teaching professionals facing the challenge of supporting the development of their peers for the first time. In attempting to build a knowledge base on Mentoring they have explored the nuances of the task and come up with new understandings of what teaching and learning mean in a highly connected professional world. Their essays depict how they have renamed their practices while tracing their own collective development of Discourses that go from local to professional. Freeman explains that “Renaming is a crucial feature of the process *of teacher learning+ whereby teachers renegotiate the meaning of their actions and thus construct different, more critical, ways of understanding what they are doing in their classrooms…To do so entails a shift in research perspective from examining actions to examining the perceptions on which those actions are based. Another salient feature of this collection is its purposeful engagement with school-based practices as the milieu in which Mentoring actions take place. These actions are oriented towards disclosing the true knowledge base of teaching, in an attempt to depart from the “chalk and talk” practices favored by many teacher education systems around the world. This perspective is not without its limitations, though. School-based teacher learning and development may reproduce the status quo at the same time that they offer fertile ground fora thoughtful exploration of practices through building support networks.
What teachers know about and use in their thinking includes:
‒ Their subject, the aims and role of the subject within the wider curriculum.
‒ How the subject is learnt, the existence of strategies to support learning.
‒ The school and its policies, accepted norms and procedures within the education system.
‒ The students, their backgrounds, their needs.
‒ Strategies for managing their own ongoing professional learning, the existence of professional organizations and support networks, and journals in their subject area.
The expertise of teachers includes being able to:
‒ Use strategies to support pupils and their own learning.
‒ Notice important features of classrooms and organizations.
‒ Promote conditions which support the learning process.
‒ Assess learning.
‒ Relate to students, other professionals, parents and colleagues.
‒ Fulfill other professional obligations.
‒ Access and use new ideas and/or theories to think, plan and/or assess.
The expertise developed over time by ‘good teachers’ allows them to:
Intuitively and instantaneously use what they know (whether it is knowing about or knowing how type of knowledge) at just the right moment, and in just the right way to support the learning of their particular learners, in their classroom.
Ultimately, teaching is an activity which should serve the purpose of helping others come to know Unless students learn, teaching is rendered futile. However, when one looks at the harsh reality of schools nowadays one is entitled to wonder how teachers can fulfill their mission in isolation. And here is where the Mentoring process provides a valuable instance for teachers to engage in professional conversations about teaching and learning with a view to reshaping their practices in the service of their learners. In engaging in these professional dialogs, Mentors and mentees revisit their assumptions, question their beliefs and explore new ways of helping learners engage in meaningful experiences which promote learning. Mentoring thus becomes a new form of commitment, a new window, or door into the worlds of being, knowing and becoming. Teaching in today’s political and institutional climate requires thoughtful approaches to complex problems of practice; there are no past answers to the problems we face, and we do not have the luxury of focusing exclusively on the classroom and our students. We need to take an active role in shaping the school environment so that we can teach effectively in our classrooms. This means that we often need to teach others — colleagues, administrators, parents or sponsors — how they can participate effectively in our change efforts. Mentoring affords us the chance of doing precisely that.
- A. Karimov. The presidential Decree. № 1875 “Measures on improvement of learning foreign languages” .Newspaper “Khalq suzi” 11.12.2012y.240(5660)
- Alderson, J. C. Testing English for specific purposes — how specific can we get? In Hughes, A. (ed.), Testing English for University Study. — London: Modern English Publications and the British Council, 1988. — P-16–18.
- Bachman, L. F. Language testing–SLA research interfaces. In Bachman, L. F. and Cohen, A. D. (eds), Interfaces Between Second Language Acquisition and Language Testing Research.- Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. — pp-177–195.
- Bachman, L. F. Statistical Analyses for Language Assessment. — Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2004. — p-57