The society we live in turns out to be in the continuous process of transforming, making all its members: young people, adults and children face the increasing social identity and choices played out in the social, political, the spiritual, the economic and the technological spheres of life. Educational institutions, which provide the opportunities to regain appropriate knowledge, skills and competence throughout life for the adults, teachers that can provide the learners with support in making sense of and surviving in nowadays surroundings marked with instability and unpredictability are extremely needed.
Constantly progressing society increases the requirements that the educators are obliged to meet. Creative and flexible teachers who are able to enforce the creativity of young people are in demand. That is why all the young people willing to be involved in such an intellectually stimulating and complex profession have to be aware of the responsibilities they have to take in trying to become real professionals in this field of human life (Craft, 1997).
Can all teachers be called professionals? We may come to that conclusion because of the fact that in order to come to school as a teacher a person has to go through the university years providing professional education. According to educational consultant who has been dealing with family-school relationships for a long time James B. Stenson “professionalism isn’t just a set of appearances — neatness, good grooming, “shop talk” and the like.
Nor is it just technical skill; many technically skilled people are not really professional. Professionalism is, rather, a set of internalized character strengths and values directed toward high quality service to others through one’s work. In their daily work, whatever it may be, real professionals show these inner strengths and attitudes — sound judgment, know-how, business savvy, mature responsibility, problem-solving perseverance and ingenuity, along with what people call “class. This is as true for hair-dressers, carpenters, machinists, police officers, and barbers as it is for lawyers, physicians, and engineers. Any honest work can be done professionally”. (Stenson, updated 2005) Professionals are those who show self-respect in the work, those who are conscious of their work reflecting their character, inner world, those who don’t see the work only from the point of the source of getting money.
A teacher, being a part of a complex organism called school, no matter how professional he or she is, would not be able to make the wheel of the educational process move alone. Teachers’ positions concerning their role- responsibilities and duties as teachers vary. Some of them are used to individual practice with their work taking place only within their classroom. Such teachers leave different educational decisions such as those concerning policies, standards, curriculum to outside experts in order to concentrate their attention on implementation issues.
Others see their role not only inside of the classroom, but in participation in larger community of educators, in decision making of significant issues in learning and teaching. (Becker, 1999) The way teachers organize their time both in and outside the classroom and how they build their relationships with other members of the educational process depend on how they determine their role, whether they see themselves as private practitioner or find it useful to follow collaborative practice.
There are teachers who are oriented only to their assigned students, and structure their lessons using what they have learned during the previous years, they may use their autonomy for implementation of their personal teaching-learning theories in their subject-area, or they may use the closed door to hide their weak points in teaching. No matter what goals are aimed at here – to offer or to ask for help, may cause assumptions of incompetence or lead to interference with others autonomy.
Teacher who are privately oriented do not have time for meetings, discussions or any other form of professional engagement which leads to an absence of interaction between the members of the teaching staff (Becker, 1999). Such teaching practice does not help parents and school to benefit from it. There is another approach in teaching practice, which is seen as collective endeavor by professional educators, in which teachers see their responsibilities both in terms of their relationship to their students and to a larger educational community (Glazer, 1999).
Teaching is considered as a continual process of ideas exchange with other professionals, which helps to develop knowledge base (Little, 1993). Professional teachers long to follow collaborative practice, as it helps in gaining new knowledge, in mastering of new teaching techniques, and developing good personal features. It is extremely important to demonstrate professionalism in every deed, be it in the classroom or outside the school. Everyday teachers should keep in mind the tremendous responsibility taken by them in the education of the children.
Teachers should remember that they have taken an obligation to care about every student, as caring is believed to be one of the central facets of teaching, if not the main one even though it may be exasperating and demanding (Kohl, 1984, Goldstein & Lake, 1999, Acker, 1995). Only professional teacher may be successful in combining all the approaches of teaching and finding the one that is the best in certain classroom and with the definite group of students.
Only the person that perceives teaching not just as occupation but feels the passion for it succeeds in creating the atmosphere of mutual understanding between the educator, the student and the caring parent in order to see growth and progress and makes the people around and school in general benefit form the work of a professional. Professional teachers should keep the student’s interest for learning that once has been burning in their hearts forever, setting high expectations for themselves and the students.
This may help them to understand the children they are working with and create the environment and necessary climate in the classroom. The only effective way to gain students trust and respect is to stay true to themselves and to the students, always avoiding negative influences. In student – teacher relationships professional teachers should never leave a role for which they have taken responsibilities. It may be troublesome if a teacher is trying to change his role into the one of a best friend.
As it may be confusing to the students not expecting to see their teacher in another role, and not knowing about what behavior is acceptable for them in that situation. Professional teachers think not only of creation of appropriate atmosphere in the classroom, they must also try to succeed in establishing rapport with the parents. It may be done through the meeting organized and sending the letters to the parents in order to keep them informed about what is going on at the moment, to introduce the teacher’s vision of the future’s cooperation.
A professional teacher is attentive to the students, as each of them is an individual, at different levels of intellect, motivation and maturity, trying to get to know every child and allowing them to know their teacher. A professional teacher is open to discussions with the parents whenever it is needed for positive interactions and student growth. (Hurst & Reading, 72-91). Once a teacher has established appropriate relationships with the students and their parents it is time for beginning the educational process with opening students’ minds to the new world of learning and information.
Throughout the period of teaching a professional educator has to remember that kid logic differs much from the adult one. A professional teacher is going to succeed in teaching if only he stays true to himself and his students. Teachers’ portrayals in popular culture are linked with a particular constellation of affective traits (Webber and Mitchell, 1995). It’s rather difficult to define what makes a professional teacher unique.
There are so called keys to being a professional, such as for instance: good social skills, having clear goals for yourself and the students, correct speaking and writing skills, good knowledge base in your field, being a lifelong learner, dressing according to school’s standards, punctuality, keeping a positive attitude, treating people with respect. Even following most of these rules a teacher may not be referred to as a professional. It is very important in teaching profession to understand that teaching cannot be just an occupation; it has to be a passion (Hurst & Reading, 72-91).
Teacher’s influence on the students is not limited only by the time scheduled for a lesson, education and caring continues even after a bell rings. Professional teachers should understand whether culture inside of the student group add to or creates obstacles for the main mission of the school as institution (Patterson, Purkey, & Parker, 1986). The members of the school staff have to keep an eye on the dominant student culture in order to find the ways for internalization of the school culture by the students and make them move in the same direction with school’s mission.
In order to know about students’ attitude towards educational process a professional teacher has to be interested in communication with the students apart from giving them the knowledge about grammar or mathematics on the lessons. Relationships that develop between people whether these are relationships teachers have with each other or those that develop between students and other members of school: their peers and teachers, and principal are also considered as a part of school culture, affecting changes.
Thanks to the established relationships between teachers there is no professional isolation, and due to that there is possibility for providing support and sharing of practices and experiences. Collaborative work helps to raise enthusiasm the sense of efficacy (Boyd, 1992). In the relationship triangle school-teacher and student caring and belief that they are being treated with fairness by others are very important facets. Teachers may transmit a sense of interest for the educational processes to their students, caring for their personal lives.
A professional teacher has to be in the process of constant practicing and developing of relevant and appropriate skills in their work with culturally different students. A professional has to work on avoiding stereotyping and prejudices towards students with different cultural backgrounds. Facing diversity of cultures in his or her classroom a professional must possess special knowledge about the group he or she is working with, such as cultural values, history and lifestyles of various groups in the society in order to make the educational process as effective and exciting as possible.
Acceptance of culture diversity begins from the classrooms and homes whether children watch their teachers’ and parents’ attitude towards this. School needs to help students in bringing up a sense of equity and social justice towards other people which has to take its beginning from the classroom atmosphere; it needs to help in developing of necessary skills and values to live in such a diverse cultural environment, to help in building bridges between their own knowledge and vision of the surrounding world with those of others.
Differences are not supposed to be seen as deviant by a professional teacher, but on the other hand they have to be perceived as the sources of enrichment (Sue, 2003). Every educational institution tries to ensure that all students have an opportunity for equitable, comprehensive and balanced education, which promotes the development of each individual and prepares them for future live. Educational process may be successful if people that set goals for the students and themselves, who possess above average ability in communication interpersonal relations, and academic proficiency are involved.
At school teachers are more like parents to the little kids that come to learn the world, to learn about right and wrong, which makes education to be something more than just lesson plans, papers waiting to be graded, classrooms to be decorated. School is a wonderful place in which students are being inspired to achieve something special in their live, to go out and try to make the world better, and to be thankful to the people that have opened so many beautiful things to them.