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A. El Afi

Lebanese University (LEBANON)
“Since the 1950’s, the role of education in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has gone through many changes. The process of globalization has significantly influenced the educational landscape of the country” (Al Ateeqi, 2009, p.94). The UAE has to face the demands of the economic revolution that took place after the oil discovery and thus educate and prepare a generation that is ready to be effective in the oil market.

“Renewal of the teaching profession and improvements in the quality of teaching and learning through the provision of high quality professional development (PD) for teachers have been in the forefront of the educational agenda of many countries” (Yates, 2007, 213). Fullan (1991) argued that “staff development cannot be separated from school development” (p.331). Following Fullan’s idea, schools should offer teachers high professional development to ensure schools’ prosperity and success.

Although great importance is put on professional development, “many teachers in the capital's public schools had not taken any professional development courses, according to a survey conducted by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) last year. More than half (51 per cent) felt such workshops were seldom conducted and rarely followed up” (The National, 2011).

Now, the question that decision makers are struggling in answering is that “Should we hire highly trained teachers with certification and dismiss the untrained ones gradually? Or should we train the teachers we have so we increase the job satisfaction of the effective ones and thus limit their attrition and at the same time lead the untrained ones through the right path to applying modern methods and pedagogy?” The decision makers in UAE are influenced by “No Child Left Behind”, and “Teaching at Risk: A call to Action” which both highlighted the importance of ongoing targeted professional development, but said a little about the content and character of professional development. "The opportunity to get professional training and development sessions is very important to keep teachers going," said Mr. Whitman whose program runs under the Directorate for Education of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in UAE, but still “A project initiated at the Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology last year found many teachers lacked training. About one in five state school English language teachers needed more training” (The National, 2011).
Dr Christina Gitsaki, the chairwoman of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization program in UAE, said “the teachers had a bachelor's or master's degree but had not done any practical training in the classroom. Most Arab expatriate teachers are from Egypt, Syria and Jordan, where such training is not necessary to qualify” (The National, 2011).

All the information presented above elaborates the importance of this research which is centered on the effect of professional development on teachers’ performance focusing on different domains like lesson planning, teaching methods, teaching tools, classroom management and cooperation showed that 42 hours of professional development in fourteen weeks affected teachers’ performance significantly.