Collaborative Development Programmes on Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategies
The Implication for the Professional Development of Teachers
In teaching, factors underpinning the differences between a veteran teacher and a novices teacher are not the mastery of amount of subject knowledge; educational and learning theories; knowledge and skills in managing students in classroom; or pedagogical skills. It is on the sensitivities to the needs of students and constraints of the environment; abilities to choose and apply appropriate learning content, context and strategies flexibly, and abilities to adjust strategies from time to time based on changes of the environment and student feedback formally and informally.
In a nutshell, it is the tacit knowledge, not the explicit knowledge of a teacher that matter.
To this end, the professional development of teachers is a continuous, self-transcending process through which one transcends the boundary of the old self into a new self by acquiring a new context, a new view of the world, and new knowledge. In short, it is NOT an event, it is a journey from being to becoming.
- The first step of the journey: Socialization
Since tacit knowledge is difficult to formalise and can be acquired only through shared experience, such as spending time together, working in collaboration on specific tasks, etc.Socialization typically occurs in a traditional apprenticeship, where apprentices acquire the tacit knowledge for their crafts through hands-on experience, rather than from written manuals or textbooks.
To start the journey, it is essential to create a platform where teachers with shared vision and interests get together and exchange views freely: acquiring the tacit knowledge from each other through experience sharing under a non-work environment.
- Crystallized the acquired tacit knowledge: Externalization
When a teacher is able to apply the ideas and concepts acquired in his/her own work through socializaton, the tacit knowledge is made explicit. Knowledge is thus crystallized and it becomes the basis of new knowledge.
- Converting explicit knowledge into complex explicit knowledge: Combination
Different teachers’ explicit knowledge is collected, combined, edited and processed to form new knowledge. The new explicit knowledge is then disseminated among the contributors as it synthesizes knowledge from different sources in one context.
- Accumulating tacit knowledge at individual level: Internalization
Internalization is the process of embodying explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge. Internalisation is closely related to “learning by doing”. For example, through sharing the classroom practice of similar subject content in different institutions and/or contexts, reflecting on the effectiveness of strategies and feedbacks from students, teachers may internalise the explicit knowledge of different practices to enrich their own tacit knowledge.
When knowledge is transformed to part of individuals’ tacit knowledge bases in the form of shared mental models or technical know-how, it becomes a valuable asset.
The tacit knowledge accumulated at the individual level can then set off a new spiral journey of knowledge creation.
The journey can be depicted in the following diagram: