A 2007 McKinsey Report on high-performing education systems in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries makes the important point that the quality of education cannot exceed the quality of its teachers. Developing teachers into effective instructors is one of the top three factors contributing towards these high-performing systems – and this is a critical strategy if we are to lead learners into the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), as well as make a dent in our high unemployment figures and drive greater financial inclusion in society.
“While it is widely asserted that teachers are not solely responsible for learner achievement, it must be acknowledged that they are uniquely well-positioned to make a profound impression,” the report Understanding Teacher Professionalisation in South Africapoints out.
Teacher development has a significant impact on student learning, particularly when it comes to Initial Teacher education (ITE), according to Nick Taylor, senior research fellow at JET Education Services. Focusing on subject matter knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge is vital, along with mentorship, coaching and peer-to-peer learning among educators. These interventions help teachers to learn better, continually review their procedures and attitudes, and pursue personal development.
There are essentially two aspects of teacher quality: qualifications (access to high-quality institutional academic and professional learning for the purpose of teaching – both for teacher preparation and career path development) and quality teaching in the world of work (classroom/school). The latter depends uponcontinued professional learning. The Department of Basic Education’s online learning spaceoffers resources for professional development that encompass both Initial Teacher Training and Continuing Professional Teacher Development.
Teacher development interventions typically take the form of workshops and training courses, mentorship programmes and bursaries/residencies. Professional learning communities are also encouraged, as teachers need to engage in lifelong professional development to keep abreast of changes in the curriculum and society.
In 2019, Trialogue held a CSI Forum on Teacher Development.