Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Staff Development

Unit 2

The concept of staff development recognises that all people may improve their capabilities and become more efficient at what they are doing. Much of the time we are likely to say 'This is an area in which I think I can do better'. We may be aware that we can improve by observing the performance of others. Sometimes, however, we need another trusted person to help us identify those areas in which we need to better our performance. Once we have done this, there are various ways in which we can get others to assist us in the process of self‑development.

Individual study time: 3 hours

Learning outcomes
After working through this unit, you should be able to:

¨ identify the training needs of your staff
¨ plan training programmes to meet these needs
¨ implement a training programme
¨ evaluate the outcome of such training.

Responsibility for initiating training
Responsibility for initiating training is shared by those in need of training, their immediate managers, and those in management positions from the district or regional offices and the Ministry of Education and, in particular, the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) which is the organisation responsible for the in service training of teachers and school staff..

Those who are in need of development are actually the ones in the best position to initiate training. Thus teachers are likely to have a fairly strong awareness of their own training needs. If they wait for others to organise training for them, they may find that their training needs are not satisfied for a long time, if ever!

School heads also have an interest in arranging training for themselves and for their teachers. As the lead professional of the school, he or she has a responsibility for ensuring that education takes place efficiently. If this is not happening because the teachers are unskilled or lack confidence, the school head should initiate in‑service training.

At the Regional Education Office there are officials with a controlling or advi­sory function such as the Heads of the Departments of Education (REDOs) and District Education Officers. Their job entails ensuring that sound education takes place in their schools. They, too, have a responsibility for ensuring that staff development is possible for their teachers and school heads.
Any one of these parties can sit back and wait for someone else to initiate training, but it is really a joint responsibility and each of the members of the partnership can be the one who facilitates staff development.

Identification of needs
We have suggested that the teacher knows in what areas he or she is in need of training. Similarly, the school head and other school leaders will know in what areas of management they are falling short.

This intuitive knowledge is not sufficient for the development of a fully adequate training programme. Detailed questionnaires completed by the teachers will point more clearly to the areas in which training is needed. But in the absence of a scientific approach a great deal can be achieved by a group of teachers using brainstorming techniques, provided they are completely open and honest.


In brainstorming one member of the group is chosen to write up on a black­board all the ideas suggested by the other members of the group. Teachers will call out the problems they experience, and each will be written down without discussion or comment. When no‑one has any more suggestions, the members of the group will discuss the problems briefly and group together those that are related. Only after this there is a detailed discussion of each of the problems and the sort of training which would help to overcome it. During this discussion there should be no particular reference to the person who first identified the problem. It is discussed in general terms and as experienced at that particular school.

Activity 2.1
Consider your area of responsibility and as head, head of department, level head etc, list the training needs of the staff members you are responsible for.

You will have considered many different aspects of their work such as subject knowledge, ability to teach, understanding of learning techniques and methodology as well as their ability to assess pupil’s work, complete the administration requirements of a teacher and deal with pupil discipline.

Management / administration
Issues identified may include:

¨ the lack of participation by the staff in management decisions
¨ poor planning, for example, when dates for important staff and subject meetings are not set sufficiently far in advance
¨ poor communications, for example, when staff members are unaware of the details of decisions which affect them
Teachers may feel that they would achieve greater success with their pupils if they had greater competence in teaching methodology. Specific problems may include:

¨ depending too much on the textbook and using a lecturing approach
¨ having academic knowledge of a subject but not knowing how to transmit this knowledge to the pupils
¨ classes being too large for adequate attention to be given to the pupils' individual needs
¨ pupils achieving poor text results, despite seeming to understand their work in class and doing their homework.

Teaching content
The content to be taught is set out in the syllabus. Many teachers depend so heavily on the textbook that they forget that the syllabus must be regularly consulted, as this is the document which should determine what should be covered and how much attention should be given to each aspect. When there is a change of syllabus, the teachers may need guidance on inter­preting the new document, and may find that there are sections of the syllabus which they simply do not understand because of advances in the subject since they underwent training.

Whilst some teachers may use a limited range of teaching styles and methodologies, others may be lacking in their subject knowledge or simply need updating. Also, all teachers need information on the way children learn as this is a fast growing topic which unfolds more and more as further research is done.

The syllabus normally has very specific instructions about the way in which assessment is to take place. Teachers' problems may however be of a very practical nature, such as, how to:

¨ get a test or question paper neatly typed and copied
¨ organise security so that pupils do not have access to questions before the time
¨ keep an accurate record of marks awarded during continuous assessment
¨ set examination questions that adequately cover the syllabus.

Child development
Teachers who are either unqualified or who have subject qualifications but do not hold the Trained Teachers Certificate (TTC) such as TQMs and TUMs may need to learn about the stages in child development and about how to motivate children to learn and to discipline them fairly.

Particularly in Guyana, learners have to work through a medium of instruction which is not their home language, especially in the Hinterland. Although the subject teacher may have a good grasp of the subject content and be competent in subject methodology, little learning may take place as a result of communication problems. Whereas standard English is the requirement for all official business in Guyana, large numbers of Guyanese go about their daily lives speaking only Creole or other native languages. Special in-service training may be needed to overcome this problem.

Activity 2.2
Utilising your list developed in Activity 2.1 group the problems into the areas suggested above.
Rank the list in priority of training needs.

Seeking assistance
Before looking for outside assistance, the staff of a school should make use of the skills they have available on the spot. The more experienced teachers on the staff should be able to help those who are less experienced. Those with higher qualifications should be able to help those whose training has been less thorough. Even two teachers experiencing similar problems may, by discussing their problems with each other, be able to work out a solution.

It should be remembered that every member of staff has something to offer his or her colleagues, and that every member of staff, however compe­tent, can still learn from others.

All schools in Guyana are required to have regular staff development sessions for the whole staff. Quality resource persons are often not available, very busy or expensive and so, the suggestions above are particularly important. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience on the average staff and teachers should be encouraged to share it especially when they have been trained in a particular area themselves.

Having grouped the training needs of your colleagues in Activity 2.2, reflect on who might provide the required in‑service training, whether it is an individual, an institution or even yourself or a member of your staff.

Once everything possible is being done to use the skills available within the school it may still be necessary to look further afield for assistance. Outside assistance should in the first instance be sought from neighbouring schools.

For management problems, the DEO could be called upon to assist, and subject advisers, where available in NCERD, could be used.

Outside assistance could also be sought from the personnel of the CPCE Training College, of the University of Guyana and of other ministries (for example, an agricultural officer for biology or agriculture) or even individuals from the private sector (a pharmacist for science, a journalist for some aspect of language work, a banker for accounting and so on). Regional co‑operation could also be utilised. The use of the community is essential to provide the widest possible range of experience for your staff. Often such people are very knowledgeable and are flattered to be asked to play their role in the education of the nation’s children.

Obtaining assistance
Co‑operation with teachers at nearby schools can be arranged by the school heads, or even by the teachers themselves. Ideally, the possibility should have been raised during a staff meeting, and the school head asked to take the request to the head of the neighbouring school. But a teacher with a particular need could go directly to his or her school head with such a request; or could even initiate contact with a teacher from the other school. In this case the arrangements would be informal and unofficial. There is, however, probably more to be gained from a co‑ordinated action which involves more of the teachers.

An approach to the Regional Department of Education, the Ministry of Education or NCERD for assistance from inspectors or subject advisers should be conveyed by the head of the school, and should be followed up by him or her if there is no response within a reasonable period of time. It must, however, be accepted that the education office staff have many demands made on their time and however willing, there may be delays in setting up an advisory visit or a workshop. Approaches to other educational institutions like CPCE and to other ministries should also be made by the school head; approaches to indi­viduals in the private sector may be made by the school head or by the teacher.

Training formats
There are many ways in which training can be done. Depending on the type of issue which is being addressed, some styles may be more appropriate than others. It is also important to provide variety, and not to use the same format every time. Here a number of suggestions are made, each of which will have to be adapted to local conditions and to the issues being addressed.

¨ A teacher may sit in on the lesson of a competent teacher, observe what takes place, and afterwards discuss what has been observed.
¨ A teacher may plan a lesson, discuss it with a more experienced teacher, make adjustments to the lesson plan in the light of the discus­sion, and then have the experienced teacher observe the lesson. Afterwards the strengths and weaknesses of the lesson can be discussed.
¨ Two or three teachers of the same subject (from the same school or from different schools) may together do their lesson planning, exchanging ideas and discussing difficulties as they go along.
¨ A workshop session may be planned, during which one or more teachers demonstrate particular teaching techniques. The less experi­enced teachers may try these out over the following weeks and then at a further workshop their successes and difficulties may be discussed.
¨ A workshop session may be held during which teachers set test or examination questions, and then work out the answers to one another's questions. In this way weaknesses in the wording of the questions or in the allocation of marks will come to light.
¨ For practical subjects a workshop may be arranged during which the less confident teachers actually do the practical work under the super­vision of skilled teachers.
¨ For management and disciplinary problems the staff may meet for a brainstorming session, during which problem areas are identified. Thereafter the meeting could break up into smaller groups, each group working on possible solutions to one of the problems. After a set time the groups all come together again. At this stage the possible solutions can be discussed and decisions taken on action by all members of the group,
¨ One or more members of staff may be asked to read an article or a section of a training manual, and lead a training session or presentation based on what they have read.
¨ Certain members of staff may have been trained in a certain area. They will use “cascade” training with their peers who in turn will train others.

It is important to note that the most successful training methods are those where the leader acts as the facilitator and the methods used are very participatory. In others words, teachers are actually involved in ‘doing” rather than simply “listening”.

Activity 2.3
Drawing on your experience of in‑service training methods, list the different techniques applied and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each method identified.

Evaluation of training
Any training which is done should be evaluated. After a training session, the participants should be able to say whether they feel any benefit from it and they should be able to identify the aspects which they found most satis­factory, and those which they found least satisfactory. These details should be communicated to those who arranged the training, so that in future training sessions the aspects which caused dissatisfaction can be minimised or even eliminated, and those aspects which were found to be satisfactory may be further developed.

If the weaknesses of a workshop or training session are not reported, the same faults are likely to occur in the future. However carefully the presen­ters of a course plan it, they can never be absolutely in tune with the needs of those attending. The larger the group, the more true this is. It is therefore most important that everyone should be completely honest.

In general, it is important that the objectives of a training exercise should be carefully stated beforehand. Training fails if it attempts to do too much in too short a space of time.

When a training session is completed, it should be fully reported in the School Log Book with a list of attendees and, where the training was of particular importance, a report should be written and circulated to the Regional Department of Education and / or the Ministry of Education.

Staff development can be seen as an important component in building the capacity of schools to function efficiently.

This unit has looked at the need to engage in a programme of staff devel­opment and to identify the needs of the staff, and has suggested a number of training techniques that might be employed to achieve the desired results.

Finally, it has stressed the need to view staff development as a joint responsibility of those in need of training and those in management posi­tions.

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