English Australia Journal : English Australia Journal 28.2
Volume 28 No 2 4 English Australia Journal which they have clearly not been alone in dealing, is finding the time and resources to fit a meaningful and relevant PD program into their college timetables. Indeed, networking with academic managers and teachers at the 2012 English Australia conference confirms this is a key issue, and the recent initiative of English Australia to set up a PD advisory group is a further indication of the significance of the issue. Surprisingly, college-based PD programs for language teachers have received scant attention in language teacher education research programs. In-service professional development for language teachers The dominant form of PD activity in many colleges is the short workshop, referred to in rather unflattering terms by Kooy as the ‘one-shot workshop’ (2009, p. 7). These activities are often focused on improving a teacher ’s techniques through an expert sharing advice, tips, and/or tricks related to an aspect of practice (Garvin, 2011). However Kooy (2009), Wei et al. (2009) and Wilson and Berne (1999) provide sound evidence that these kinds of activity are not particularly effective at having a positive and sustained impact on teaching practices. They tend to be focused on institutional rather than individual teachers’ needs (Kooy, 2009), and often fail to account for the range of experience and qualifications in the group of teachers. Teacher PD is likely to be far more effective in developing teachers’ conceptual understandings when it is intensive and sustained over a period of time, as opposed to one-shot workshops without any mechanisms for follow-up (Wei et al. , 2009). There is now sufficient evidence (Ball & Cohen, 1999; Craig & Deretchin, 2009; Wilson & Berne, 1999; Wong, 2006), to support the claim that PD is at its most effective ‘when teachers engage actively in instructional inquiry in the context of collaborative professional communities, focused on instructional improvement and student achievement’ (Wei et al., 2009, p. 58). Teacher cognition Richards and Farrell (2005) suggest that as part of their professional development, teachers need to develop abilities to take on new roles such as mentoring, coaching and managing, developing materials and curriculum, and developing collaborative relationships with other teachers. Recent research investigating the development of language teachers’ knowledge and understandings suggests this can be achieved through tapping into what language teachers think, know, believe, and do (Borg, 2003). Borg defines teacher knowledge, or teacher cognition, as: the unobservable cognitive dimension of teaching – what teachers know, believe, and think . . . teachers are active, thinking decision-makers who make instructional choices by drawing on complex, practically-oriented, personalised, and context-sensitive networks of knowledge, thoughts, and beliefs (2003, p. 81).
English Australia Journal 30.1
English Australia Journal 28.1