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Teachers’ Competencies

Authors:
  • KIYMET SELVİ EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE AND CONSULTANCY

Abstract

The aim of this article is to discuss and clarify the general framework of teachers' competencies. The general framework regarding teacher competencies were explained in nine different dimensions as field competencies, research competencies, curriculum competencies, lifelong learning competencies, social-cultural competen cies, emotional competencies, communication competencies, information and communication technologies competencies (ICT) and environmental competencies. Teachers' competencies affect their values, behaviors, communication, aims and practices in school and also they support professional development and curricular studies. Thus, the discussion on teachers' competencies to improve the teaching-learning process in school is of great importance.
Cultura. International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology, vol. VII, no. 1/2010
167
Teachers’ Competencies
Kiymet SELVI
Faculty of Education,
Anadolu University,
26470 Eskisehir, Turkey
kselvi@anadolu.edu.tr
Abstract. The aim of this article is to discuss and clarify the general framework of
teachers’ competencies. The general framework regarding teacher competencies were
explained in nine different dimensions as field competencies, research competencies,
curriculum competencies, lifelong learning competencies, social-cultural competencies,
emotional competencies, communication competencies, information and communication
technologies competencies (ICT) and environmental competencies. Teachers’
competencies affect their values, behaviors, communication, aims and practices in school
and also they support professional development and curricular studies. Thus, the
discussion on teachers’ competencies to improve the teaching-learning process in school
is of great importance.
Keywords: Teachers’ competencies, curriculum, curriculum development, curriculum
implementation.
INTRODUCTION
Teachers need to improve knowledge and skills to enhance, improve
and explore their teaching practices. Many of the studies on competencies
of teachers focus on the teaching role of teachers in the classroom rather
than teachers’ competencies. Teachers’ competencies have been
broadening with respect to reform studies in education, development of
teacher education, scientific results of educational science and other fields.
Kress pointed out that “the previous era had required an education for
stability, the coming era requires an education for instability” (133). Kress’
ideas can explain why teachers’ professional development should be
redefined for sustainability. The aims of education change very quickly
depending on the demands of the era requiring more capability. These
demands directly affect educational system. Teachers are responsible for
operating educational system and they need strong and efficient
professional competencies. Teachers’ competencies must be reviewed so
Kiymet SELVI, Teachers’ Competencies
168
that teachers’ competencies should be redefined depending on the
development of the whole life of human and education.
Competencies are defined as the set of knowledge, skills, and
experience necessary for future, which manifests in activities” (Katane et.
al. 44). Gupta (4) define competencies as knowledge, skills, attitudes,
values, motivations and beliefs people need in order to be successful in a
job.” The common understanding related to teachers’ competencies is
divided into three main areas as field competencies, pedagogical
competencies and cultural competencies. Teachers’ professional
competencies can be composed of different dimensions other than the
three main areas (Bulajeva 41; Bridge; Hansen 169; James et al. 113;
Stoffels 544; Selvi, The English language 5).
Selvi (The English language 4) carried out a research regarding the
professional competencies of English Language Teachers. The
Conventional Delphi Technique was applied in order to constitute the
competencies of new teachers based on the teachers’ and teacher
educators’ views. Delphi process was completed after third rounds
collecting the responses from the experts and Delphi round continued until
the group consensus was achieved. The results of this study indicated that
teachers’ professional competencies were composed of four main
subgroups such as Curriculum Competencies, Lifelong Learning
Competencies, Social-Cultural Competencies and Emotional
Competencies. The results showed that teachers’ competencies must be
discussed from a different point of view. In this context, the literature
about teachers’ competencies was analyzed and the new competency areas
constituted as seen below concerning the teachers’ competencies were tried
to redefine depending on different dimensions of teachers’ professional
competencies. The main feature of teachers’ professional competencies can
be explained in a way displayed in Figure 1. First of all, these competencies
were explained very briefly and only the curriculum competencies were
discussed in detail among the other competencies in this paper.
Field Competencies
Research Competencies
Curriculum Competencies
Lifelong Learning Competencies
Social-Cultural Competencies
Emotional Competencies
Communication Competencies
Cultura. International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology, vol. VII, no. 1/2010
169
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Competencies
Environmental Competencies
Figure 1. Components of teachers’ professional competencies
Field competencies are related to the question of “what should school
teach?” They refer to the content that the teacher and students will study.
For example, the knowledge of math teachers is the main competency for
teachers who will teach in classroom. Field competencies are the main
areas of teacher competencies that include academic studies about content.
Field competencies are the ones necessary for teachers to conduct their
profession. They are the teacher competencies regarding the subjects that
teachers will teach or students will learn. Formerly, field competencies were
deemed as the most important competency field based on the concept that
teachers were the only responsibles in transmitting the content. The
Lifelong
Learning
Compet.
Commun
Compet.
Research
Compet.
Social-
Cultural
Compet
ICT
Compet.
Emotion.
Compet.
.
Environ-
mental
Compet.
Field
Compet.
Curricu.
Compet.
Professional
Competencies
Kiymet SELVI, Teachers’ Competencies
170
concept of the one who knows teaches and the teacher is the responsible
from learning in classroom changed over time. Within the context of this
change, the importance given to teachers’ field competencies declined as a
result of the changing role of teacher as rather than transmitting the
content but being a facilitator enabling students to interact with content.
Research Competencies include the competencies of research methods
and techniques, designing and carrying out research in teachers’ fields.
They support collaboration with colleagues and other specialists or people
who are interested in curriculum studies and education. Research
competencies are influential for teachers in following the developments in
their fields and developing themselves based on these developments.
Besides, the research competencies of teachers are of great importance for
students in gaining the scientific thinking and scientific process skills. The
research competencies help to improve all of the teachers’ competencies
and also support research-based teacher education that is a new approach
in teacher education (Niemi, Sihvonen 36-37).
The curriculum competencies can be divided into two sub-
competencies as curriculum development competencies and curriculum
implementation competencies. Curriculum competencies contain the
knowledge about curriculum philosophies and skills in curriculum
development, curriculum design, elements of the curriculum development,
models of curriculum development, approaches of designing curriculum
development, curriculum development process, selecting and organizing
the content, planning the teaching and testing conditions and preparing
research for curriculum development. Curriculum competencies are related
to the understanding of the curriculum plans for the teaching and learning.
Curriculum competencies are the competencies of teachers oriented
towards carrying out their teaching role more effectively. These
competencies are related to both theoretical and practical competencies.
These competencies defined as learning-teaching related competencies
determine the framework of the knowledge and skills that teachers will
gain. Without curriculum competencies, it is quiet difficult to produce an
effective education service in schools. In order to discuss the curriculum
competencies more effectively and explain why teachers need them, they
can be analysed in two sub-competencies.
Lifelong learning process requires that learners take responsibility of
their learning. As individuals, teachers are acting for their own learning in
the lifelong learning process. Lifelong learning activity goes through the
whole life continuing between individual and the world (Selvi, Phenomenology
Cultura. International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology, vol. VII, no. 1/2010
171
489). Lifelong learning competencies include the abilities of learning to
learn, and teachers’ responsibilities of their own professional development.
Lifelong learning competencies are related to the ability of learning and
skills of using the means or tools of learning to improve the learning
throughout the human life. Lifelong learning competencies refer to the
teachers responsibilities for their own learning and development of
lifelong learning skills for students. It means that lifelong learning includes
two main abilities. The first one is related to teachers’ own lifelong learning
ability and the second one is related to teachers’ responsibility to develop
students’ lifelong abilities.
Emotional Competencies are composed of teachers’ and students’
values, morals, beliefs, attitudes, anxieties, motivation, empathy and so on.
They are related to the implementation of psychological consultation and
curriculum of guidance in school. Teachers’ emotional competencies can
help students to learn and students willingness to learn can be increased if
teachers know how to improve the emotional dimension of students’
learning. Emotional competencies also help teachers become effective
teachers while monitoring the students’ learning. Learning requires
emotional supports that create positive feeling for learning-teaching
process. Teachers become a learning consultant and mentor about learning
for their students.
Social-cultural competencies include the knowledge about social-cultural
background of students and teachers, local, national and international
values, democracy and human rights issues, team and collaborative work
with others, and social studies. All of them provide freedom to students
and teachers in learning-teaching process and also promote the learning.
The individuals become social and cultural being in social life. Thus, there
is a strong relationship between learning and students’ social-cultural
background. Some of the learning theories discussed learning as social-
cultural context and teachers’ social-cultural competencies can promote
students learning. Humanistic approach and social theories can be put into
practice in the classroom by means of teachers’ social-cultural
competencies.
Communication competencies include communication models,
interaction among teachers, students, social environment and learning
topics. Teachers also have competencies in using oral, body and
professional language in their fields. Communication competencies include
voice, body language and words such as speaking, singing and sometimes
tone of voice, sign language, paralanguage, touch, eye contact, or the use of
Kiymet SELVI, Teachers’ Competencies
172
writing. They include communication skills in intrapersonal and inter-
personal processing, listening, observing, speaking, questioning, analyzing,
and evaluating.
Information and Communication Technologies-ICT competencies are
based on using tools and technical equipments for the reaching, disturbing
and transferring the knowledge. They include any technology that helps to
produce, manipulate, store, communicate, and/or disseminate information.
ICT competencies are concerned with the use of technology in managing
and processing the information include all technologies for the
manipulation and communication of information. It means that the ICT
competency is very important to improve the communication in the
learning and teaching process.
Environmental Competencies can be defined as competencies for
ecological and environmental safety. Salite and Pipere (16) explained that
ecological/environmental aspect is a dimension of the sustainable
development of teachers. Knowledge, attitudes and skills about ecological
system and environment such as keeping clean and available environment,
management of ecological resources, being aware of ecosystem, feasible
uses of natural resources, availability of natural resources can be defined as
Environmental competencies. Figure 1 the framework of teachers’
competencies. Nevertheless, Figure 1 is not sufficient and it must be
improved by further studies depending on the development in all of areas
of human life.
DISCUSSION
Education is a discipline aiming at revealing systematic and scientific
results towards meeting the needs of individuals and society. Studies need
to be carried out to develop all related sub-systems in educational system
regarding to meet all needs and expectations. One of the sub-systems in
educational system and the first degree responsible from managing this
system is the sub-system of teacher training. The basic purpose in teacher
training is to ensure the effective planning, management, development and
administration of educational system by equipping teachers with certain
competencies. The concept of teachers’ competencies is mostly discussed
in very narrow dimensions such as teachers’ planning, implementation,
assessment of the curriculum, standards for the curriculum or the school.
These are related to teachers’ teaching duties in the school. In this respect,
teachers’ competencies needs to be discussed in many dimensions such as
field competencies, research competencies, curriculum competencies,
Cultura. International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology, vol. VII, no. 1/2010
173
lifelong learning competencies, social-cultural competencies, emotional
competencies, communication competencies, information and com-
munication technologies competencies and environmental competencies in
order to develop teachers.
In parallel to the developments emerging in different fields, the changes
happening in human life also cause some problems in defining and gaining
the teacher competencies. For instance, environmental competencies were
not probably discussed twenty five or thirty years ago as a competency field
for teachers. However, the problems people have experienced with
environment have raised an interest towards environment issue. As a result
of this interest, environmental issues have been associated with education
and teaching. Therefore, environment issue on which there are still
discussions have been discussed as new competency field for teachers. In a
nut shell, daily life and all the developments emerging based on human
needs influence teaching profession and hence the teacher competencies.
Redefinition of teachers’ professional competencies should include the
curriculum competencies. Since, the curriculum competencies are core
competencies of teachers’ professional developments. Teachers’ curriculum
development competencies are not clear, not well defined or neglected,
teachers have problems concerning the curriculum development and
implementation of curriculum in their fields. Understanding of curriculum
philosophy, curriculum theory and curriculum development models,
curriculum development studies, learning and teaching approaches and
models are the most neglected aspects related to teachers’ curriculum
competencies. Teachers’ curriculum competencies is related to micro and
macro level curriculum design, development and implementation.
Teachers’ curriculum competencies are necessary for partnerships between
teachers and the curriculum development team during the curriculum
studies. Curriculum development team and the teachers have unique roles
in the curriculum development process (Shkedi).
The approach of teacher-regulated curriculum will be important in near
future. Thus, school-based curricula should be encouraged by teachers’
researches and implementations. At the same time, this will encourage
teachers to become more active participants in to the curriculum
development processes. However, curriculum writers, namely curriculum
design and development team do not successfully transmit their ideas to
teachers (Shkedi). For this reason, curriculum studies should be projected
by curriculum theorists and teachers collaboratively. It is said that
curriculum studies have intensified teachers’ work (Bulajeva 41). Thus,
teacher competencies concerning curriculum are of great importance for
teachers to conduct their profession. The competencies of teachers
Kiymet SELVI, Teachers’ Competencies
174
encompass both theoretical and practical of curriculum. At the same time,
defining teacher competencies will contribute to the improvement of the
quality of educational system by positively affecting the teacher training
and curriculum development studies.
The changes in science and educational system have also affected
teachers’ competencies. There is strong relationship among the other
sciences and system of society and they affect educational system and
teachers’ competencies. Educational system can be based on scientific
results of educational sciences, psychology, economy, technology,
sociology and so on. Any kind of change and reform study in the other
systems or science damage teachers’ professional competencies unless
teachers’ competencies are developed (Carlgren 49-50). Teachers must
follow all of these changes in order to improve their professional
performance. The development of teachers’ competencies is based on the
changes in other sciences and society and is not associated with only the
individualistic development but also professional development.
Today, we are talking about internationalization of curriculum studies.
Internationalization of curriculum ideas is a kind of reform study and
teachers ensure changes by embracing new ideas. In this respect, teachers
need to have more competencies than they had before. By taking the
international developments into consideration, the teacher competencies
should be discussed and updated. Teachers’ competencies are highly
important in both implementing the current curricula effectively and
training people for future by developing these curricula. Teachers who are
responsible from the training of the individuals of future need to be well
equipped in order to fulfill this responsibility. Teacher competencies
should continuously be the subject of research and analysis and should be
developed by updating. Therefore, pre-service and in-service teacher
education should focus on understanding and application of teachers’
competencies. As a curriculum development specialist and a teacher
trainer, I believe that teachers’ competencies should reflect developing
conditions for sustainability.
Most of the developments of teachers’ competencies do not a process
but time to time some developments can occur by chance. The teachers’
competencies should be reviewed consistently in parallel with the changes
and reform studies through scientific studies. Teachers’ main role is
transferring changes into educational system and they must deal with all the
changes effectively. The future will be different from the past and present
in some certain respects (Avery 442). Thus, teachers need new competencies
to cope with all these changes and it is necessary to redefine the teachers’
competencies.
Cultura. International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology, vol. VII, no. 1/2010
175
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Teacher professional development in the context of school reform
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Bulajeva, Tatjana. "Teacher professional development in the context of school reform." Journal of Teacher Education and Training. 2. (2003): 39-45.
Creative professional: Learning to teach 14-19 years old
  • David James
James, David et. al."The professional teachers." Creative professional: Learning to teach 14-19 years old. Ed. D. James. Florence: Taylor & Francis. 1998. 109-131.