The processes of education reforms, upgrading education and consequently the change of system of teachers’ professional development are the purpose and means of socio-economic and moral progress of society. Only those specialists who have the potential to create in new environment, who are characterized by unconventional style of pedagogical thinking and can competently solve professional problems, are capable to change the reality of teaching and to achieve effective results [1, p. 5].
Kazakhstan initiated a radical transformation of teachers’ training. The process of reforming education is being purposefully conducted, the problem of improving the quality of teaching is being solved and interactive teaching methods are actively being introduced. In this regard, an important role is played by the training of teachers, organized on the basis of the Program developed jointly by the Centre of Pedagogical Excellence of the Autonomous educational organization “Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools” in conjunction with the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. This project provides organization of teacher training for teachers from secondary schools on a special training program which corresponds with the best international practices. The program is aimed at developing creative personality feature of a teacher and personal responsibility for the content and results of his work; it enables teachers to introduce interactive teaching methods in the educational process. Also one of the most important teacher’s professional qualities which are being formed and developed in these level courses is reflection, which is considered the most powerful tool of teacher’s self- development.
A reflecting teacher is a cogitative, analyzing and examining his experience educator. Reflection- is turning inward of the activities with the aim of their further improving, which involves awareness of the teacher of his inner world and his actions [1, p. 8].
The attitude of a teacher to his mistakes is truly a tentative step for his professional reflection. As J. Korczak wrote, a good educator differs from a bad one only in the number of errors made and harm caused to children. There are mistakes that a good educator does only once and after critical assessment does not repeats them, remembering his mistake for long. A bad educator lays the blame for his errors on the children (Korczak, 1966, p. 107) [2, p. 47].
Unfortunately, insufficient level of manifestation of reflection hampers the successful implementation of education reforms. So the problem of development of reflective skills has not only professional, but also a wide social meaning.
On the level courses the formation and development of reflective skills of teachers are being paid sufficiently large attention. This is because it is reflection that allows teachers to critically evaluate their activities, gives them the opportunity to experience problems in teaching and learning and find ways to tackle them. The second “face to face” stage stipulates writing reflective reports by the participants on their implementation of activities in the period of practical training in school. At this stage we are trying to develop their skills in understanding their activities through self-analysis, i.e. reflection on professional difficulties, mistakes, problems and increased accountability for their performance.
But unfortunately not all teachers possess reflexive skills, and the coaches often encounter this problem during the course. The problem is that the course participants do not usually find the causes for their results or problems; it is difficult for them to say and write what really happens in the course of their activities.
As a support for reflective activity the teachers are given the following guiding questions (for self-study or discussion with the coach):
– What are your main results, what have you understood, what have you learned?
– What tasks have been most interesting and why?
– How did you carry out the tasks, in what ways? What did you feel in the process?
– What difficulties have you encountered and how did you overcome them?
– What are your comments and suggestions for the future (yourself, the coach)?
In the training sessions reflexive questions offered to the teachers, are close to the studied material and the content of the program. In the formation and development of reflective skills the involvement of the teachers in active participation through interactive teaching methods is effective. A special role is played by training sessions, discussions, brainstorming, dialogue learning that provide the establishment of trust relationships between the participants. Psychological approach to organization of reflection of the teachers is also very important. The coach’s task is to create such conditions so that the participants are willing to discuss educational materials or their activities.
In order to provide feedback during training sessions, we often at the end of the lesson offer the participants to give written answers to a number of questions, because many teachers find it difficult to express their thoughts in writing about their attitude, feelings, achievements and challenges that arose during class. For example:
– Did you enjoy the activity? If yes / no, why?
– What did you do best in the class?
– What was challenging?
– What has changed?
– Give your suggestions and recommendations.
At first, during such small notes, many teachers try to briefly express their thoughts, give the same type of responses such as “yes, I liked the session”, “I had no difficulties”, “I do not have any suggestions and recommendations, everything is good”, “I like everything very much”, etc. In our opinion, these answers are affected by several factors, such as not willingness to give a detailed respond, or the participants think stereotypically, hurry home, etc. This implies that the teachers did not initially feel the need for awareness of what is happening with them; they have no idea of reflection and are not able to carry out a reflective analysis of their activities. But after some time, due to more frequent use of such techniques they develop skills of written reflection. So coaches try to bring the teachers to writing reflective reports.
During an internship at school the coaches offer the teachers to keep reflective diaries as one of the most acceptable ways of forming reflection. It should also be noted that just the records is not enough, because without reflection, which gives food for subsequent behavior and actions, it loses its meaning in this context. Upon completion of teaching and learning (after each lesson), we offer the teachers to make the following notes in their diaries:
– How was your lesson?
– Was my lesson strategy successful? If yes / no, why?
– What can be changed in the lesson structure to make it more efficient?
– What would I have changed if I conduct this lesson again?
– Have my students learned anything in the classroom? If yes, due to what? If not,why?
– Next timeI’ll...etc.
Such a diary serves as a useful note for the future when planning the next lesson, allowing the teachers to benefit from the views recorded, as well as those moments that need to be paid attention to in order to improve their subsequent teaching.
At the end of the three-month course the teachers write five reflexive reports (7000 words), which helps them to identify and reinforce the results of their educational and practical activities. The trainer gives these reports summative and formative assessment which is directed at a deep analysis of their practical work. Namely, it gives answers to the following questions regarding their experience: why something happened or did not happen? how to turn my “minus” into “plus”? how to improve my practices in the future? But in the course of writing reflexive reports by the teachers the coaches often encounter the following problems:
– the teachers sometimes partially or completely copy someone else’s work from the Internet or do not make references to the source of information;
– often deviate from the topic and do not keep to the point;
– most of the reports are descriptive rather than analytical in nature, i.e. more is written about how something happened, but do not answer the question of why something happened;
– they are afraid to write about what did not work for them during practice at school and can not identify the problems on which they should work in the future;
– not all teachers comply with the criteria for assessing the portfolio, for example, they neglect the set number of words: they write either too little or too much;
– the teachers do not give a list of references;
– they forget to refer to the literature sources used.
To solve these problems and overcome difficulties the coaches of the Center conduct systematic work with teachers, namely:
– in the course of training at the first “face to face” stage, after each training session a systematic oral and written feedback is conducted, which forms the skills of oral and written reflection;
– at all stages of the course the teachers are keeping a reflexive diary in which they develop their skills of written reflection;
– in the third phase of training the coaches conduct individual consultations with each teacher on writing reflective reports. During these consultations the coaches help the teachers to develop their ability to analyze and assess their values, strengths and weaknesses of their activities and to express them in writing. They also help the teachers to draw conclusions on the work done, make recommendations forcompliance of the reports with three criteria: knowledge/comprehension, application, analysis (reflection).
Being efficient and thinking, i.e. reflecting, a teacher must be able to clearly set goals, teach in an interesting way, respect and care for students,
adequately assess them, be independent and actively engage students in the learning process and learn from them. All these are very important for reflective teacher, and there is a hope that these level courses will help our teachers in rebuilding their own methods of learning and teaching to reflect on effective, appropriate and relevant strategies which meet individual, age and psychological needs
of their pupils.
Reflexive skills that are formed and developed during these courses provide self-regulation of activity and interaction, self-improvement and self-development of the teacher’s personality.The work is submitted to the International Scientific Conference “New technologies in education”, Indonesia (Bali), February, 17–25, 2015, came to the editorial office оn 19.01.2015.