TOWARDS PERSPECTIVES ON TEACHERS’ PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

S. Polskaya 

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
Modern educational environment demands that a teacher should continue honing professional skills throughout all the career. Just having an appropriate degree is evidently not enough to be successful. In the conditions of rapidly changing technologies, previous experience becoming obsolete fast and competition between various educational institutions, the role of teachers’ continuous professional development cannot be overestimated.

Understanding teachers’ professional development as various kinds of efforts on teachers’ part to expand their competence in terms of pedagogics and linguistics, experts emphasize that ‘effective professional development is an ongoing process which covers training, practical activities and feedback, involving teachers in such learning practices that are similar to those they apply when teaching students.

Within the Russian educational system, teachers at various levels are expected to take professional development courses annually. For university staff this is one of the conditions of them successfully passing the competitive selection for teaching position at a university every 3 or 5 years. It is of particular interest for us what view teachers themselves hold of their professional development. To understand that, we conducted a survey covering 51 Moscow-based university lecturers who teach English as a foreign language at the tertiary level. For getting more consistent results, we selected for our survey teachers of approximately the same age (average - 42 years), with more or less similar length of professional experience (the average - 18 years). The survey was in the written form and included just one open question ‘How would you like to develop further in terms of your professional activity?’ Each participant was allowed to give as many answers as possible, mentioning anything they would find appropriate.

Our survey revealed that teachers held various opinions on their professional skills evolution. The majority pointed out the necessity of acquiring further IT expertise to successfully conduct online classes, organize open educational environment based on Google services etc. Bearing in mind the covid-19 pandemic consequences, it is clear why particular importance is attached to these particular skills.

As our objects were teachers of English, many of them also stressed the growing need for updating the knowledge of the language they teach. Most of the participants received their teaching qualifications more than 20 years ago, and since then English lexis, grammar, functionality have demonstrated certain changes.

The participants expressed their intention to develop such skills as communication and leadership, believing these skills should be inherent in their profession. In contrast to this, less than a quarter mentioned they wanted more knowledge and skills of pedagogical nature.

There were also those who asserted that there existed no particular direction they could develop, emphasizing that, if necessary, they could learn on the job.

Some were confident that knowing psychological and sociological characteristics of learners will also contribute to the efficacy of educational process, facilitating their performance.

The results of our research can be applied when determining the contents of teachers’ professional development courses, with the latter, if organized and delivered properly, ensuring the process of education is efficient and rewarding.