EDS 111 – Module 2: Teacher Professionalism
I remember the first time I was looking for a job, I turned to the internet for helpful tips to ace my interview. Some of the words I encountered were professionals and professionalism. Back then, when I hear the word professional, what comes to mind is someone dressed in a suit or a corporate dress, has a high salary and has a high position in the field that he is working in. Then, I came across statements like, “practice professionalism in the office” or “be professional at all times”. This makes me wonder, what does it really me to be a professional? Can someone in the rank and file position in the company practice professionalism?
From my prior knowledge, when talking about teacher professionalism specifically, I believe the attributes that can be used to describe it is almost the same as other professionals. Key traits would include a high level of specialized knowledge, competence in the field, respect given by others, high regard and integrity. Professionalism also is manifested on how one handles himself under pressure. There is also the presence of a code of conduct that is supposed to be a guideline and is followed by the professionals.
This is how I define teacher professionalism then. Comparing it to the traditional notion of professionalism, there are some similarities. One of this is my insight that teacher professionalism would mean having exclusive membership, that is, to educators. This is against the transformative notion which is inclusive, that is, able to invite as members non-educators or those who are believed to have a say in the field of education. Now, when it comes to regulating the profession, I believe that the traditional’s view of external regulation should be mixed with the transformative view of self-regulation. I believe that although it is hard to give full autonomy to teachers now because of standards that are supposed to be met, teachers should still be given some freedom to be able to come up with their own methods and strategies that if analyzed can help in effective teaching. Regarding other characteristics of professionalism, I am leaning more towards the transformative notion (Sachs, 2003) as against the traditional. To name these, one is that professionalism should be flexible and progressive. There is also the direction now to being more collaborative as the belief is professionals from the field of education which includes teachers, teaching assistants, etc., should be interacting and cooperating with each other to produce effective learning.
With regards to democratic professionalism wherein it entails involving other professional groups and other stakeholders like business, parents and pupils in performing teacher professionalism, I believe this is something that cannot be avoided at this time. Yes, I believe in the call of teachers to give them autonomy and to trust them that what they are doing is for the benefit of the students but I think a collaboration can be made peacefully. This is why it is a good step in having different representatives from different sectors have a voice in different aspects of education like in curriculum development.
After reading the resources given, I have come up with a broader view of teacher professionalism. Before, my focus was more on the professionalism of the teacher himself and how he can use it to further his career. Now, I believe it should involve not just improving one’s self but how it would help in improving the profession itself. Yes, the teacher will have specialized knowledge, competency, integrity, accountability, self-regulation and good image to further his career but also be able to practice professionalism in dealing with other stakeholders for the development of the profession and thus coming up with an education that will be beneficial and effective for all students.
As a future educator then, I would like to imbibe this kind of professionalism. I want to become a teacher because I want to help students, to impart my abilities that I think can help them, to share with them my experiences that they can learn from, and for them to view me as a professional they can emulate in the future. For me to do these, I need to maintain professionalism. In this modern society that we are living in right now, with children being more aggressive and independent, my role as a teacher should also evolve to meet their needs and at the same time inculcating in them professional characteristics that should not be disregarded. As a teacher, I know I will be expected to follow a code of conduct and to follow policies or standards. However, this is where the challenge comes in, one which I will welcome. Yes, it is hard to speak up and be active but I believe when done in a professional way, taking into consideration the views of other professionals or other stakeholders and bearing in mind the autonomy that teachers need, then I think I can uphold teacher professionalism and influence others to regard it with utmost respect also.
Granowski, Kelsey. (2012, October 12). 4 Reasons Why You Need to be Professional. Retrieved from http://www.rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/main/four-reasons-why-you-need-to-be-professional/
Porcupile, Daniel. (2017, February 23). What is PROFESSIONALISM? What does Professionalism mean to you? Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-professionalism-does-mean-you-daniel-w-porcupile
Whitty, G. & Wisby, E. (2006, December). ‘Traditional’ and ‘Managerialist’ Approaches to Teacher Autonomy? Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ842890.pdf