EMPOWERING TEACHERS TO MANAGE CHANGE IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Joan Kang Shin
In the context of the 21st century education, which is characterised by great changes and constant restructuring of education systems in order to improve student achievement, teachers face a number of challenges while playing their complex roles. The current context requires teachers to become lifelong learners able to reflect on their regular practice and ‘theorise from it and practice what they theorise’. High quality preservice and inservice teacher education constitutes a major prerequisite in supporting teachers’ development of required competences. The paper studies the contribution of a professional development program to empowering teachers as lifelong learners and managers of change in the 21st century. The participants in the study were 400 primary English language teachers in Serbia who completed the accredited professional development (PD) program titled Theme-Based Instruction in Teaching English to Young Learners in the period from 2014 to 2018. The study aimed to trace all six dimensions of teacher empowerment, a construct that recognises teachers as experts on teaching and learning and as active participants in making decisions. Six instruments were applied in the study and both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. The results indicate that the participants gained the critical capacities of empowered teachers and acquired attitudes and beliefs necessary for successful management of change. Evidence showed that a PD program can be truly empowering when it allows teachers to apply the newly acquired knowledge and skills and to reflect on the program’s success in terms of student engagement and their own growth. These findings should be acknowledged by policy-makers and preservice and inservice teacher education institutions for supporting teacher empowerment as a critical competence needed for successful teaching in the 21st century.
Keywords: continuous professional development, empowered teachers, reflective practice, pedagogical skills, management of change.
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