As a person who has a two-year experience of working as a language teacher in a private language school, which also offers services in teacher training, including preparation and organization of Cambridge ESOL Exam TKT (Teaching Knowledge Test), I have witnessed the complex process of teacher professional development. During my work experience, the company would mentor the teaching staff to provide the quality of education by conducting regular teaching sessions, peer observations, interviews of students and teaching staff. Additionally, our language teachers like me were constantly being prepared for Cambridge ESOL Exams. These events made me feel more confident in the classroom, showed that creativity is “the best friend” of a teacher, and provided collaborative work with my colleagues. Fortunately, I started my teaching career exactly in that language school, as now I am excited about the idea to translate the experience of this private school to mainstream schools throughout the country.
Having analyzed the teacher in-service professional development reform in Kazakhstan, I see that the process has started with rather small number of teachers. I support the idea of the efficacy of the projects like Centre of Excellence; and as far as I understand, there is an opportunity for those teachers who have undertaken this program to share their experiences with their colleagues at their schools.
My concern about the new model of teacher professional development is the length of the course. The basic level of the program lasts for three months, but teachers’ professional development is a time-consuming process. Thus, attempts to provide all teachers of the country with in-service training for a short period of time might negatively affect the quality (Tam & Cheng, 2007). A set of teachers’ beliefs has a great impact on choosing a certain style and approach of teaching in the classroom. As Pajares (1992, as cited in Pshenova & Batyrbayeva, n.d) argues, it is pivotal “to work on the beliefs, moral principles of teachers in order to help them turn toward new ideas” and become active users of the chosen approach. At the same time, I could suggest that person’s beliefs cannot be developed into new ideas in a couple of months, but teachers should be trained on the regular basis during the whole teaching practice.
Another point to mention is unclear situation in preparation of multilingual teachers. The process of multilingual education is supposed to be a long-term process. However, not all of the current professional development centres offer the programs that can provide a teacher with linguistic skills in addition to methodology. This means that nowadays language potential of teachers is a point of their own concern and is treated as a personal desire of self-development, rather than an aspect at the republican scale.
As a master student, I can state that the area of teacher professional development in Kazakhstan is devoid of the research in the perception and attitudes of Kazakhstani teachers towards in-service training. This gap can be fulfilled by providing a set of qualitative inquiries to see real causes of teachers’ unawareness of modern teaching techniques and to work out the program aimed at preparation of academic staff that meets the requirements of the State Program.
In this sense, the sufficient education policy can happen only when the levels of educating process (from policy makers to teachers) start working in the dialogue. In this conversation, it is pivotal for the top to clarify what exactly they want to change, reason these reformations, and get the honest (!) response from practitioners, who, in their turn, are expected to share their opinions and ideas. As a result, the processes of reform planning and implementation would be actively negotiated by the stakeholders and controlled and assessed by the policy makers in order to improve the quality of changes.
Tam, W. & Cheng Y. (2007). Teacher education and professional development for sustainable school effectiveness. In T.Townsend (Ed.), International handbook of school effectiveness and improvement (pp.751-766). Springer.
Pshenova, T.N., Batyrbayeva, N.K. (n.d.) Professionalnoye razvitiye sovremennogo uchitelya v sisteme nepreryvnogo pedagogicheskogo obrazovaniya. Retrieved from http://centre.ipksko.kz/index.php/kz/izdeu-sheshim-t-zhiribe?id=55.