|In Service for Teacher Development in Sub-Saharan Africa - A Review of Literature Published Between 1983-1997 - Education Research Paper No. 30 (DFID, 1999, 64 p.)|
1. Teachers' actions are not ones of whim or fancy. They are constrained by the classroom resources, social as well as material, of the teacher's circumstances. Whilst variation is possible, it is within circumscribed limits. The material and social features of a teacher's environment exert selection pressures as to which varieties of action will continue to be sustainable in the classroom.
2. Although the teachers' circumstances exert selection pressures on which varieties of practice will survive, teachers are not homogenous in their pedagogic content knowledge. The teachers bring differing biographies to the classroom and therefore have different in-service needs.
3. In the literature there is a line of work that supports the idea of teachers reflecting on their own practice.
* This is best done with the help of colleagues in school.
* Local support groups are a necessary complementary strategy.
* Inputs from advisory staff can be supportive.
Changes to pedagogic content knowledge can be achieved with deliberate interventions as well as through the teachers own variations in practice.
4. We can distinguish a teacher's content knowledge, skills, meta knowledge about the nature of their subject and general affect, from their pedagogical content knowledge. Activities that will change a teacher's pedagogical content knowledge are best carried out with demonstration and coaching. In-service aimed at changing teachers' actions, rather than their knowledge, values, or affect, does require the teachers to practise those actions.
5. Distance education has many advantages for developing teachers' knowledge. It also can be used to develop affect and values. What is more difficult is to support change in teachers' skills through distance learning. The use of new curriculum materials is one possible strategy to help develop new pedagogic skills.
6. The circumstances which exert selection pressures for the teaching strategies that are workable, and against those which are not, can be modified through managerial intervention.
7. Because teacher development is an open process there are lots of loose ends. This is a recognition of the post-modem position that we cannot plan the future (modernism) the future evolves out of the present.