“Competencies.” This word is increasingly being used in education circles today. It is a description of one’s ability, a measure of one’s performance. What are the competencies that matter among educators? And are these the same qualities that will be valued in the teachers of tomorrow?
A person’s competencies may be defined in terms of one’s knowledge, skills and behaviours. To understand the competencies required of a teacher, we must first define the job of a teacher.
The task of a teacher is closely tied to the nature of the classroom. Today’s classrooms call for teachers to “prepare virtually all students for higher order thinking and performance skills once reserved to only a few” (Darling-Hammond, 2006, p. 300).
Researchers and practitioners are becoming increasingly aware that the character of the 21st century classroom – and thus the demands on both students and teachers – is undergoing significant change.
What are the roles of the teacher in the 21st century? What are the competencies teachers need to fulfil these roles? What can our teacher education programmes provide to help them with this task?
A team of teacher educators from NIE sat down and asked themselves these questions. Some of the roles they identified included: nurturing the whole child, providing quality learning, working with others, and developing a strong set of personal values.
They then made a list of core competencies that every trained teacher should have. These competencies were classified into three broad performance dimensions: professional practice, leadership and management, and personal effectiveness.
- Professional practice
A competent teacher seizes every opportunity to encourage learning, believing that all students can learn. And learning isn’t limited to the classroom. To this end, the teacher takes every opportunity to improve on his or her own professional practice, in order to provide quality learning.
- Leadership and management
A competent teacher is a leader who wins the hearts and minds of the students. Such a teacher sees the value in developing and working with others, including parents and colleagues, and actively seeks out opportunities for professional collaboration within and beyond the school.
- Personal effectiveness
A good teacher understands the importance of developing oneself before he or she is able to provide support for others. As a professional, this teacher maintains high standards of personal and professional integrity when carrying out all duties and responsibilities.
These performance dimensions align with MOE’s Enhanced Performance Management System (EPMS), which spells out the knowledge, skills and professional characteristics for teachers at different stages of their career.
Good teaching does not occur in a vacuum. Every competent teacher also needs to possess a strong set of values, skills and knowledge.
The NIE team identified three key values that are important for the 21st century teaching professional: learner-centredness, teacher identity, and service to the profession and community. These values guide the application of relevant skills and knowledge on a day-to-day basis.
Teachers today need to develop a holistic array of skills – for teaching and thinking, administration and management; as well as knowledge – of self and pupils, community and pedagogy, among many others.
Developing Teacher Competencies
Not all teachers will have the same level of competence in all areas from the outset. What can teachers do to build and sustain the relevant competencies? This is where the Graduand Teacher Competencies Framework (GTCF) comes in handy, especially for new teachers.
“The GTCF is divided into levels – capacity building and awareness raising,” explains Professor Goh Kim Chuan, who was instrumental in leading this initiative. “The former is the demonstrable achievement of a specific competency, while the latter indicates the awareness of the competency though they may not yet be able to demonstrate its achievement.”
To develop competence, teachers need to progress from awareness to capacity building. The GTCF can help teachers identify the competencies they need and continue to build on them throughout their teaching career, through practice and professional development.
Prof Goh suggests that “some practical ways of bringing up awareness-level competencies to capacity building would be through induction and mentoring within the school, professional development courses at NIE or other providers, or learning with more experienced teachers through professional learning communities.”
American physician, writer and Harvard professor Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” The next step forward, therefore, is up to us!
Recommendation 1: New V3SK Model
The new Values3, Skills and Knowledge (V3SK)Model highlights the essential prerequisites that teachers need in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century classroom. It comprises three value paradigms as well as the requisite skills and knowledge that teachers need. The model also represents the philosophy underpinning the design and delivery of teacher education at NIE, which puts the learner at the centre of the equation.
Recommendation 2: GTC Framework
The Graduand Teacher Competencies Framework (GTCF) articulates a set of professional standards or benchmarks for all who graduate from NIE’s teacher preparation programmes. It specifies the competencies that teachers should be equipped with at the point of graduation. The GTCF also serves as a developmental framework to guide teachers in further strengthening other competencies through the course of their teaching career.
An overview of the TE21 model is featured in the previous issue of SingTeach.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2006). Constructing 21st-century teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(3), 300-314. doi: 10.1177/0022487105285962
Low, E. L., Taylor, P. G., Joseph, J., & Atienza, J. C. (Eds.). (2009). A teacher education model for the 21st century. Singapore: National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University.
- How does the concept of competencies relate to teachers?
- What are the competencies that teachers today need to develop?
- How can you become more competent as a teacher?
Teachers possess a strong power in their own capacity to direct the learners in becoming responsible citizens. Their communal hard work act as a driving power by which the goals and objectives of an educational scheme are being achieved. As such, teacher quality must be taken into account to make such goals reachable.
In an unstructured consultation with some administrators as to teacher capability, they considered manner towards work as the most favorable characteristic. Teachers’ personality traits had the greatest influence in moral values development. The student respondents tagged being approachable and responsible among teacher traits as their top priority.
Here are some aspects of teacher competence that appeal to administrators:
- Job-related knowledge. A competent teacher has full knowledge of the subject matter she teaches and must be familiar with the curriculum content. She possesses the zest and enthusiasm to explore/develop new teaching strategies that will fit the pupil’s level and pace of learning. She strives to know her pupils and can evaluate lessons.
- Communication skills. She is articulate and can communicate well. She participates appropriately at meetings/seminars with relative ease. As much as possible, she provides constructive criticisms only.
- Dependability. The teacher who works with minimal supervision and completes assigned tasks within a specified period is truly an asset to any system. She gives full support to every activity and does her best in everything she does. She can also be relied upon to be prompt in schedules such as meetings and appointments.
- Initiative. The competent teacher shows willingness to assume additional tasks and even volunteers to do other jobs apart from her regular teaching assignment. She has a streak of leadership within and can be independent in doing her job.
- Judgment. The competent teacher makes sound and mature decisions. She applies anÂ analyticallyÂ and a reflective approach to problems. She uses discretion so as not to jeopardize relations with colleagues and superiors.
- Adaptability. She has the ease to adapt and adjust to existing situations. She is open to feedback and new ideas and willingly supports changes when necessary. She can also be flexible to co workers and superiors.
- Professionalism. A good teacher adheres to rules, policies, and procedures with the highest degree of professionalism. She respects others ideas and opinions and exercises tact in dealing with others. She discharges official responsibilities faithfully and devotedly.
- Interpersonal skills. She has a warm and supportive nature and can work harmoniously with others. She has the ability to adjust to different personalities and goes for peace. She also respects other cultures and religions.
Truly, the teacher is the key factor in the learning process. She is looked upon as a social and moral model which carries with it a certain degree of prestige and respectability that must be fostered. She is not just practicing a profession, but she is out there for a mission, that is , to shape the total personality of the youth who will be the citizens of tomorrow.