-by Shyam Pandey
Language teachers are anticipated to keep themselves up to date with developments in the field related to language. They need to regularly review and evaluate their teaching skills and to take on new teaching assignments according to the changing needs of the institution. Some teachers may also be expected to serve as mentors to novice teachers, to plan workshops, to present papers at seminars and conferences and to write for journals and magazines and other professional activities. Professional development is one of the key issues for those teachers because it is inadequate to talk about teachers’ performance and learning outcomes without training, evaluation, mentoring the teachers etc. Teachers’ success in professional development enhances the results of students’ learning. At the core of the training process, teachers play a key role in determining students’ outcomes.
Every year, Teachers’ Professional Development (TPD) programs are applied in universities in almost all the countries in the world. These programs are held to serve the determination of providing teachers with apparatuses and best milieu to develop their profession. They deal with TPD from different outlooks, which pressures on teachers’ engagement in inquiry as a fundamental part of their teaching practice. Similarly, they must sustain their learning continuity both with their colleagues in professional communities and with their own students inside classroom. However, it does not seem that regular workshops, trainings and conferences regarding TPD programs take place successfully and effectively.
In the current climate of systemic alteration, the professional development of teachers has taken on new status. There are many reasons for this new urgency, ultimately centering on the importance of the classroom teacher in promoting successful student learning. Without the continuous improvement of teaching (and of professional teachers), the reforms will fail. Professional development must serve the purpose of promoting teachers’ continuous learning of integrating new knowledge about teaching and learning within the social contexts in which teaching takes place.
When English as Foreign Language (EFL) teachers are aware of the different strategies and techniques of TPD, it helps to achieve the anticipated goal of the educational institutions. The teachers can adopt many strategies and modes for their professional development. In the context of Nepal, some of the models like classroom observation, case study, assessment, etc. are familiar and being used by many language teachers. Many colleges and universities like Tribhuban University (TU) (mainly), Kathmandu University (KU) launch the pre-service program to prepare teachers. They give good theoretical knowledge. After the completion of certain level like I. Ed., B. Ed., and M. Ed., the student teachers go to teach in the real classroom. However, when they try to teach the theoretical knowledge (inputs) which they have taken from colleges and universities, they face certain problems. They expect some help, guidance and coaching. Nevertheless, at that time they do not find anyone to support them. When I was in teaching practice (B. Ed.), I did not get proper mentorship from my teacher. After that, I joined M. Ed. in Kathmandu University where I got to know a lot about mentoring which gives good platform to the new teachers develop them professionally.
Mentoring can be defined as helping, guiding, assisting and coaching to novice teacher by the experienced one. Darish (2003) says, “Mentoring is a means of assisting and guiding the work of others” (p. 47). The very help, guide or support could be of about the problem of the novice teachers inside school or outside school as well or even sharing their success. In course of time, I joined a school as a teacher of English language. When I was a novice teacher, I faced lots of problems; sometimes finding resources which were available in the school periphery, sometimes I even did not know how to use such materials, sometimes classroom management, etc. and sometimes to apply the strategies which I had learnt from my university. I did not get any help from anyone until I requested them. Sometimes I consulted to my senior teacher but I was in dilemma whether I should consult him or not because my senior teacher may not have such willingness to help me. Therefore, I did not ask all my problems and concerns because I had a fear if they would rate me as an unqualified teacher. Neither had I seen my school having formal mentoring program nor any teacher groups or organizations helping the novice teachers. This is because “there is no any formal mentoring educational institution in Nepal which has separate course or program and mentoring to the new language teachers” (Pandey, S.B. 2009; p. 88). In the context of Nepal, mentoring can be one of the best tools that the language teachers can use to develop them professionally and personally but it is still not being practiced in Nepal formally which is an urgent need now. Portner, (1998) says “Mentoring is a powerful and effective way to provide support and assistance to neophyte teachers during their first year on the job” (p. xi). As Pandey, S.B. (2009) has discussed the English teachers of Nepal are well familiar with the concept of mentoring which helps them to adjust in the new situation and cope with the problems, get new ideas of solving the problems. Therefore, it is a platform for new and experienced teachers to share the things, to understand the new situation (p. 84). But Nepalese teachers have not formally practiced mentoring in their institutions yet which is a burning necessity now.
Daresh, J. C. (2003). Teachers mentoring teachers: A practical approach to helping new and experienced staff. New Delhi: Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd.
Pandey, S.B. (2009). Mentoring for Teachers’ Professional Development in Nepal: A Status Study of Kathmandu District. Unpublished M.Ed. dissertation, Kathmandu University, Dhulikhel, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Portner, H. (1998). Mentoring new teachers. New Delhi: Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd.