This week’s module served as an eye-opener for me because my impression about teacher professionalism is not as profound as it ought to be. Prior to reading the materials, I think of it as how teachers conduct themselves in front of their class and how they abide to ethical and moral standards. The readings sort of slapped me in the face and said, “Hey you, wake up, it’s not as easy as it seems to be.”’ Well I admit, it does not seem easy but I believe that that understanding is so much easier compared to what teacher professionalism truly means.
Teacher professionalism goes beyond the walls of the classroom. I learned that as time went by, certain social, economic, and political changes affected how people consider teaching as a profession. There was a time when teachers possess the discretion on what and how their students learn. However, time came when parents gained the right to interfere with their children’s learning. Their opinions on matters that are supposed to be handled by the teachers were given much importance. Teachers are compelled to listen to what the parents are saying and consider them in his/her methodologies and techniques. I guess that this is frustrating on the part of the educators because they are the ones who studied for several years to be expertd in their field, and yet, they have to adequately cater for the parent’s feedback. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the latter’s opinions are also important, but the responsibility should still be given to the teachers.
Another interesting issue is the teaching profession being denied to be called an expert profession because of the unclear knowledge base compared to engineers and doctors. Reflective practice is then seen as a phenomenon that can make the profession be considered as a real profession rather than a para-profession. Teachers derive significant amount of knowledge from their wealth of experiences when they transmit learning to their students. In connection, educators also need to establish satisfactory performance and quality in teaching and they need to meet certain criteria and standards set forth by an external regulating body. This issues, though just a part of a whole, are enough to conclude that teacher professionalism is indeed very challenging.
Allow me to also say some things about theorizing practices in this context. For a year now, I have worked in a University (not as a teacher, though) and witnessed how publication of journal articles, writing of books, and presentation of studies in conferences, among others, can help increase the ranks of faculty members. This suggests that these methods of “preserving” and “storing” knowledge and experiences in practice are given importance. Future generations of educators and other academic professionals can therefore make use of these studies. When an information is shared to the public or is made available for the whole system, then that can boost professionalism. On another matter, collective autonomy was also emphasized in this module. This suggests that the power of teachers’ professional organization over the crafting of rules and standards on the personal conduct of the teachers in the schools that they work in can be considered an essential part of the profession’s independence.
To conclude this post, let me give you what I exactly said in one of the fora for this topic: “Authorities and regulating bodies may keep on imposing rules to the professionalism of teachers, so long as appropriate wage and satisfying benefits are given to them. Teachers abroad are able to get this but the situation is not the same in our country. Educators need to comply with certain standards while keeping the ends meet for their respective families. What I mean is that it’s very challenging to keep up to the profession; but wouldn’t it be much easier if they do that while they receive what they really deserve?”
Gamble J. (2010). Teacher professionalism: a literature review. Johannesburg: JET
Whitty, G. & Wisby, E. (2006). Moving beyond recent education reform – and towards a democratic professionalism. Hitotsubashi Journal of Social Studies, 38(1): 43-61.