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Elementary School Teacher's Value of Their Classroom Activities

by Kazuhito HOSOKAWA,

Osaka University, Japan

Abstract:

1. Overview

In this study the author is concerned with teachers' perspective on their own development. Many studies on teacher development until now were not focused on idea of the perfect teacher. So in-service teachers' perspectives of their own development have never been examined. For the reason given above, we investigated it by questionnaire to in-service teachers.

Through this investigation the following results were obtained.

1) Many teachers think that they want to develop their competency of consideration pupils.
2) But they currently understand that they practise to high degree in relation to those activities.
Keywords: teacher development; teaching skill; in-service teacher1. Introduction

1-1. The Present Circumstance of Education in Japan

After The WWII in Japan, the National Curriculum (course of study) was enacted and it is revised every ten years. Recently the National Curriculum is revised in 1999 and the elementary school teachers plan classroom activities base on the new one from this year. Two important educational reforms are proceeded fitting to National Curriculum revise. One is ''a five-day working week''. Before that schools have classes in every Saturday. For the reason of it the curriculum contents are cut off. So people are very worried about declining of pupils' academic ability.
The other is that classes for ''Integrated Learning '' is introduced newly. This Integrated Learning time account for about 10% of all classes. In that classes, current topics are often taken up as materials such as information technology, environmental issue, welfare, or internationalization. For the reason of it, classes of another subjects are cut off.

1-2. Teachers' Confusion

Teachers in Japan are very interrupted through the educational reform mentioned above, that is primarily one-way order by the Ministry of Education or board of education. For example, classes for Integrated Learning is different from other subjects entirely. There is no screening textbook to design classroom activities. And that the Ministry of Education doesn't provide a regular content to teach. Teachers in Japan have never been experienced this situation : ''teacher can teach whatever they want''. On the other hand, mentioned above, people are worried about declining of pupils' academic ability, so teachers are under pressure from students' parents. They are caught in a dilemma between the Ministry and parents, they feel uneasy about teaching every day.

1-3. Issues of 'Aging' Teacher Development

Moreover, the average of teachers' age is rising. For the reason of declining in the number of birth, many teachers are left over, so new teacher (recent graduate) is hardly employed. It isn't rare that there is no 20's and 30's teacher. In this educational circumstance, elementary school teachers in Japan are embarrassed every day. But they don't simply cope with their work provided from the Ministry or the principal. Up to now a theme of teacher development is focused to beginning teacher or student teacher. But we must consider that teachers are developing all through their life and pay more attention to their life course .

The purpose of this research is to consider teachers' perspective on their own development, in other words elementary school teacher's ''value'' of their classroom activities. I suppose that their value is influenced by the society, Ministry, and students' parents. But their value is reflected by the thoughts ''how they want to develop themselves''. Asada(1998) pointed that many studies on teacher development have been made until now, but they were focused on idea of the perfect teacher. So in-service teachers' perspectives of their own development have never been examined and have given little attention. It is essential to make clear how teachers themselves think about their own development for research on teacher.

For the reason given above, we investigated it by questionnaire survey to in-service teachers.

2. Method

2-1. questionnaire

First of all, we divided educational activities to 4 phases: a) lesson design, b) teaching, c) learning assessment and d) classroom management. Then we made lists 7 to 14 various activities within each phases with referring to some other research.
I asked them to answer two types of questions : 1) they assessed themselves how often they did each educational activities mentioned above by four-scale : almost daily, sometimes, rare and none, 2) they selected one activity from each dimension that they would like to make efforts in the future.
2-2. profile of answer
Our research group send out questionnaire to elementary school teachers who work in municipal elementary schools in Suita, Ibaraki and Minoh city, which are located in the suburb of Osaka. Those cities are typical commuter town. We send out questionnaire from June to July 2001. Respondents' years of service are shown in Table 1. Respondents aren't included the headmaster and deputy head.

* average = 20.93 years service.

3. Results

3-1. activities in lesson design

Many teacher working in elementary schools want to make efforts for consideration of pupils' condition in spite of considering usually. We tend to suppose that what to make efforts is the activity that they don't usually carry out. It produced an effect contrary to our intention.

Present situation of activities in lesson design activity %

1 consideration of pupils' condition 69.7
2 time distribution to each activity 50.3
3 estimation of pupils response 47.9

Activities in lesson design to which they would make efforts activity %

1 consideration of pupils condition. 31.6
2 making question to emphasize learning process than result 29.0
3 making worksheet for what pupils write in their thinking 16.7

3-2. activities in teaching

Many teachers consider that they often instruct and support among pupils and they indicate the lesson's goal to pupils clearly and they response to the unexpected context flexibly. On the other hand, they want to make efforts to understand pupils' 'tsumazuki'. 'tsumazuki' means stumbling in English. Japanese elementary school teacher often use this characteristic word for pupils' small error in their learning process, such as misconception or difficulty to understand. In addition to this, they would make efforts to use the various and small groups for learning activities. Though classroom activities are almost performed whole class up to this day in Japan, they consider learning flexibility and small scale group as important in the future education.

Present situation of activities of teaching activity %

1 instruction and support among pupils 58.2
2 indication the lesson's goal to pupils clearly 49.1
3 flexibility that teacher response unexpected context 48.5

Activities in teaching to which they would make efforts activity %

1 understanding pupils' 'tsumazuki' 24.7
2 using the various learning form flexibly 14.8
3 making small group communicate with each other 11.1
3 consideration children without remark in lesson 11.1

3-3. activities in assessment of learning

It is one of the most important issue how teachers assess students' learning. We see from the tables that the teachers attach importance to self assessment and portfolio assessment instead of written examination. Additionally, they would like to make efforts to predetermine the points of assessment.

Present situation of activities in assessment of learning activity %

1 using written examination for learning assessment 50.9
2 pre-determination points of assessment 40.6

Activities in assessment of learning to which they would make efforts activity %

1 pupils' self assessment 21.6
2 portfolio assessment 20.4
3 pre-determination of assessment points 14.8
4 pupils' mutual assessment 13.0

3-4. activities in classroom management

Japanese teachers pay much attention to learning environment. On the other hand, they would like to make efforts to understand pupils' context out of school. They want to know about pupils' situation out of their classroom.

Present situation of activities in classroom management activity %

1 keep classroom notice board in good condition 49.7
2 keep classroom environment (lighiting, seat and so on)in good condition 49.7

Activities in classroom management to which they would make efforts activity %

1 understanding pupils' context out of school 28.4
2 utilize open-space or empty room 16.7
3 making periodical publication to communicate
with pupils and their parents 13.0
4 construct computer local network in school 11.1

4. Conclusion and Discussion

Not only beginning teachers but experienced teachers want to develop their faculties as professional teacher. Experienced teachers have some developmental problem to be solved.
Through this investigation the following results were obtained. That is to say many teachers think that they want to develop their competency of consideration pupils. Nevertheless they currently understand that they practice to high degree in relation to those activities. It is the important feature of value that elementary school teachers have. We may say that competency of consideration pupils isn't acquired only during the pre-service education or initial teacher training, but teachers learn from day-by-day experiences of teaching. And it isn't easy to acquire this competency.
Earlier in this paper, I raised the issue of research based on the perfect teacher, but it is debatable whether we could make clear perspectives of teacher in this study. Because the lists of educational activities we made might mean the image of perfect teacher. There is room for argument on this point.

On the other hand, in this paper we don't mention the questions of learning context for in-service teacher development. It needs further consideration.Acknowledgements

I gratefully acknowledge helpful discussions with Kanji Himeno, graduate student in Osaka University, on several points in this study.

References

Asada, T. (1998) Toward the Study on Educators. Asada, T., Ikuta, T., Fujioka, K.(eds) Developing Teacher Tokyo. 301-307 (in Japanese)

 

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