Meaning and Importance of Workplace Learning for Teachers
One of the most important motivational sources of education in the workplace is undoubtedly to improve the quality of the service produced in that workplace. Whether it is a private organization or state-owned company, it will not change. When it comes to teachers, reflections of education programs in workplace on education output will come to life as a society, which consists of better educated individuals.
In terms of the target group, we can generally classify workplace education in two ways: orientation programs for those who will begin to work or just began to work, and training programs for existing personnel. Different classifications can also done according to the content of the education or depending on the needs and areas of expertise of the students.
Examples of workplace training planned for prospective teachers include “school experience” and “teaching practice” courses, which are compulsory in all teaching programs of the Faculties of Education. Within the scope of these courses, prospective teachers carry out observation and reporting in schools in the early years. Later on, they are directly involved in teaching activities.
Workplace education directed to teachers is classified under two main topics in terms of content of education that will be provided:
- Profession Knowledge
- Content Knowledge
Topics of profession knowledge is generally planned for updating teacher’s pedagogical knowledge. Topics such as development of new assessment and evaluation instruments, the use of new educational technologies, new approaches in education, types of learning disabilities in toddlers and its diagnosis and recognition of gifted children have drawn attention in recent years as they are preferred by teachers for professional educational topics. Biggest advantage of giving these types of education to teachers in their own school is presenting application areas where they can directly observe the results. For instance, showing the use of a new educational technology or measurement method under current conditions will positively affect the efficiency and motivation of the teachers, enabling the teacher to adapt to new methods and tools more quickly and accurately.
Content knowledge, which is one of the most important components of teaching profession is similarly depicted in contemporary teacher profiles of all countries with the emphasis of “having an up-to-date content knowledge”. For teachers of disciplines whose development is relatively slow, such as Social Sciences and Mathematics, content knowledge training is not very often needed. However, such trainings are of critical importance in areas that are similarly in continuous development, such as information technology and related subjects, Health Sciences or technician training. Since these fields are constantly evolving, dependent on developing technology, this situation risks leaving teachers in these branches behind with new and up-to-date information.
As with all educational planning, training programs that will be designed for teachers at the school firstly have to start with detailed requirement analysis. Performing it directly in school, will enable an opportunity for analysis of the employee and environment interactions. As well as education requirements, the other requirements, such as software deficiencies of smartboards used in classrooms, hardware failures, lack of ancillary staff to support teachers on technical issues such as calibrations of these equipment, need to be identified and resolved. If there is a need for training as a result of the needs analysis, the training program must result in an evaluation. Assessment is an important step to see the results of the training and to give the opportunity to revise for similar training to be carried out later.
Technology-related innovations are as important as for information technologies teachers, as to teachers in different fields who will use technology to teach their courses more effectively. Education towards the use of new educational technologies make workplace training inevitable for teachers from almost every branch. For instance, although it is one of the oldest science and slowest in terms of change, Mathematics teaching can be realized more effectively and efficiently with the use of softwares such as GeoGebra, Maple or Mathematica, or extremely useful mobile applications such as PhotoMath.
Similarly, virtual laboratory applications which have started to replace science laboratories, which are very costly to configure and maintain in schools, are also candidate to be an effective teaching material.
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