THE IMPORTANCE OF LONG-LIVED LEARNING FOR TEACHERS
THE IMPORTANCE OF LONG-LIVED LEARNING FOR TEACHERS
Writer: Erika Citra Sari Hartanto
Editor: Iqbal N.A
Abstrak: Aktivitas mengajar memerlukan perhatian dan perencanaan yang matang. Guru, selama bekerja dan selama punya keinginan untuk belajar lagi, haruslah memiliki komitmen yang kuat dalam melakukan pekerjaan dan memberikan yang terbaik bagi dirinya, bagi murid-muridnya, juga bagi lingkungannya. Perubahan dalam sistem pendidikan, yaitu dari teacher-centred learning menjadi learner-centred learning, mampu mendorong guru untuk belajar lagi guna meningkatkan kemampuan mereka dalam mengajar, selain juga meningkatkan kemampuan personalnya. Komitmen yang kuat ditambah dengan kompetensi yang mumpuni membuat peran guru diharapkan menjadi guru yang profesional, karena salah satu kunci dalam memperbaiki dan meningkatkan kualitas pendidikan adalah dengan guru yang profesional.
Kata-kata kunci: teacher, teaching, commitment, competence, profesionalism.
Being a teacher is complex; hence, a teacher must have good preparation before s/he starts to teach, both physically and mentally as well as the materials. There are certain things beyond it that must also be known by a teacher, especially the teacher of English language, along with his/her willingness to always learn. Those are commitment, competence, and professionalism.
The changing in our education system in this global era seems to make teachers change his/her role from the source of information to a facilitator and motivator for their students. Therefore, teachers need strong commitment in doing their job. It is in accordance with the Act no 14/2005 about Teachers and Lecturers that teacher should have commitment to enhance the quality of education in this country (Depdiknas, 2005, Paragraph 3). Positive commitment to improve quality of education in this country, furthermore, can be a good motivator for teachers to gain more knowledge and skills. The sense of having the commitment should have been arisen within teachers in the early phase of their life because this commitment will lead teachers to give the best they can do to their students and environment.
In educating their students, moreover, teachers should re-question their position or existence as well as their purpose for being teachers. Do they intend to be a learning agent or to obtain prestige in society, or to perform religious service to God? It is often found that a person who works as a teacher cannot do his/her role as teacher properly.
Re-questioning the existence will help teachers to keep developing better and better. Do teachers have sufficient ability to transfer knowledge and skills to their students? Being a teacher is a complicated job because a teacher deals with the actions that are conducted at present in order to get the result in the future. What the teachers give to students nowadays determines what they will do or what they will be in the future.
Commitment will drive teachers to create enthusiasm. It should be noticed that enthusiasm does not always emerge in term of working up with action; but it can be seen in their outlook, words, behaviour, body language, etc. It is also essential to create interest in every conduct you do. Bobbi DePorter and Mike Hernacki (1992:51) say, “Creating interest is a good way to deliver motivation in you in order to achieve your goals”. Once you have the interest it will be easier for your next steps since you are motivated enough to always learn for some reasons. For instance, it will help you to add your self-esteem; it will be easier to implement new English teaching technique or curriculum in class; it will be easier for you to master grammar; it will lead you smoothly to make good writings, etc.
The significant question that each teacher should also have is related to the students that s/he is going to teach. The knowledge and skills that are transfered to them, later, should have essential values upon them. To teach effectively teachers must know their subject, know how the students learn, and know how to teach the students (Suhardjono, 2005:2).
Knowing the students’ characteristics is an essential point because what you are going to do with your students becomes very important since the characteristics of the students are different from time to time. Knowing how the students learn means that the teachers should know their students’ learning style. DePorter and Hernacki (1992:110) argue that the key to developing one’s performance at the job, at school, and within inter-personal relations is to know one’s learning style. Although many researchers have defined various terms, it is agreed that there are two ultimate categories about how one learns. The first is the combination of how one pervades information or modality and the second is how to execute it, which is the domination of the brain (DePorter and Hernacki, 1992:110-112). If the teachers teach their students with old-fashioned style or teacher-centred learning, it is less possible that the students might understand the lesson that is given by the teachers.
Although teachers graduated from reputable universities, it cannot be guaranteed that they are expert in their major as well as teaching techniques so that they are able to directly transfer knowledge and skill. The National Center for Research on Teacher Learning College of Education, Michigan State University emphasizes it in its article entitled Finding on Learning to Teach that “majoring in an academic subject in college does not guarantee that teachers have the specific kind of subject matter knowledge needed for teaching’’(NCRTL,2006). Indeed teachers need to always learn in order to enhance their competencies and performances.
Teachers should have the competence appropriate with their major. Mc Ashan (in Mulyasa, 2006:38) argues that competence “is a knowledge, skills, and abilities or capabilities that a person achieves, which become part of his or her being to the extent he or she can satisfactorily perform particular cognitive, affective, and psychomotor behaviours”. According to Act of Teachers and Lecturers (Depdiknas, 2005:5) competence is a set of knowledge, skills, and action that teachers and lecturers should have, comprehend, and achieve within his/her professional job. Being capable teachers, according to the Act, should fulfill the following competencies: pedagogic, personal, social, and professional competencies. The Act further explains the meaning of the competencies (Depdiknas, 2006:69) as follows.
Pedagogic competence is an ability to execute students’ learning process. The changes in our education system from teacher-centred learning to learner-centred learning or known to be Competency-Based Curriculum make or force the teachers to improve their teaching ability. The basic principle of fun, enjoyable, and smart learner-centred learning make teachers no longer to be the prime or ultimate source but to be facilitator, motivator, and inspirator to their students (Chapter II of the Act). The teachers should be able to motivate the students through their creativity and curiosity upon science; hence, the students are able to develop their sense of competitiveness.
Personal competence for teachers includes steady personality, good character and exalted morality, capability, and wisdom. It is expected that teachers are able to arouse lifelong motivation as well as the culture of progress in their work place, particularly, to students. Developing personal competence becomes essential because the function of teacher is not only teaching but also educating; hence, teachers should also be responsible for the future of their students.
Social competence relates to the ability of teachers to communicate and to interact effectively and efficiently with the stakeholders. The education system is closely related to the service to society; therefore, the competence of teachers should satisfy their stakeholders. The stakeholders are students, parents, employers, government, lecturers, and other interested organizations (Ariffin, 2006:1).
Professional competence is related with the ability to master learning materials. The professional teacher is able to and willing to teach well. The quality of education is related to the increasing of quality of our human resources. Rosyid (2006:4) argues that the education system based on high standard subsequently drives the process of learning and school management to create people with moral, social, and technical competencies. The education system in this country is no longer appropriate with the advance of science and technology, and the rise of society needs. In order to achieve students with high quality, we, first, should develop and enhance the quality of teachers through upgradings and trainings.
Richards and Farrell (2005:3) state that training refers to activities directly focused on a teacher’s present responsibilities. Teachers should join trainings since they are regarded as preparation to take on a new teaching assignment or responsibility. To enhance the ability, teachers can join trainings, for instance, Neuro Linguistic Programme (NLP), Quantum Teaching, Quantum Learning, Motivation training, etc. However, the teachers should constantly practice the lessons they have gotten from trainings in order to enhance their ability; otherwise, it is worthless.
Joining trainings, upgradings, and workshops are regarded as part of developing the capability of teaching as well as personality. In this case, the development refers to a longer-term goal. The statement implies that teachers should develop themselves in many ways. Furthermore, teachers should feel that the developed skills and knowledge are valuable in the long term. The efforts for enhancing the competence and performance positively are not worthless and help them in class teaching.
It is widely recognized that the quality of our education is in subordinate level, and one of the ways to increase its quality is through professional teachers. Becoming a professional teacher needs strong efforts and commitment. The meaning of “professional” emphasized by the Act No. 14/2005 about Teachers and Lecturers is profession or accomplishment completed by someone and becomes the source of a living that needs speciality, proficiency, or skill which fulfils the quality of standard or certain norms as well as profession (Depdiknas, Chapter I). Teachers are outstanding profession, which is based on the principle of professionalism. The act emphasizes that teachers have opportunities to develop their continuing professionalism by conducting ongoing learning (Chapter III). It implies that in performing their role, teachers should be able to enhance and develop their knowledge and skills along with the expansion of knowledge, technology, and art, as mentioned in Paragraphs 20 and 60 of the act about the obligation of teachers and lecturers.
Thus, to become professional teachers, never-ending learning is a must. Learning refers to “concerted activity that increases the capacity and willingness of individuals, groups, organizations and communities to acquire and productively apply new knowledge and skills, to grow and mature and to adapt successfully to changes and challenges” (Pacificorpfoundation, 2006). Professional teachers should not have a stagnant skill and knowledge. It is very important for teachers to develop their skills and knowledge since time is continuously changing rapidly. Many experts will develop many new trends, advanced technique, and theories in teaching. This obviously has extreme impact on teachers. It is better for teachers to stay “on-line” with the latest information around the world since the theories and techniques are always changing.
Teachers should find more information and ways in order to enhance their understanding of teaching as well as themselves as teachers. They must not feel introvert or timid to always learn and “re-charge” themselves. Teachers need self-improvement toward themselves as personal as well as their conduct in relation to their teaching ability. If teachers feel they have not taught well, would they ever want to change and learn? The assessment of teachers’ ability in teaching and personality can be gained from students, colleagues, and the institution where teachers work through various methods. The output of this assessment can be used to improve the teaching so that the students will have joyful class if their teachers are effective communicator, have positive attitude toward students as well as sufficient knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject, good organization of subject matter, and fairness in examination and grading (Suhardjono, 2005:3).
Nowadays, the assessment of professionalism can be measured by certificates given by certain institutions appointed by the government. This certification, according to the act, is a process of giving certificates for teachers and lecturers as formal acknowledgement as professional personnels (Chapter I). The institutions that have authority to perform the certification are institutions which have educational provision personnel program that have been accredited and decided by the government.
Teaching is not a simple matter particularly in this globalization era where there are so many rapid changes. The changing in education system, from teacher-centred learning to student-centred learning, puts teacher in a situation where s/he should always add his/her capability both in teaching and personal responsibility. It is important since the role of teacher is not only to teach but also to educate; hence, h/she has a sense of responsibility toward the future of his/her students. Then, it is important for teacher to always learn because teacher does not function as one and the only person who can give knowledge and skills to his/her students but has changed his/her role to become facilitator and motivator as well as inspiration-provider. Teacher, during his/her task and during his/her willingness to always learn, must have a strong commitment to do and give the best to himself/herself, to his/her students, and to the environment where s/he stays. Now, the system of education enables teacher to develop and enhance his/her competences in teaching. Strong commitment combined with sufficient competences will bring the role of teacher into professional teacher, because one of the keys in improving our education quality is through professional teacher.
Ariffin. 2006. Manajemen Mutu Pendidikan Tinggi. Hand Out at Workshop Evaluasi Proses Pembelajaran. Trunojoyo University. Madura. April, 19th 2006.
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DePorter, Bobbi and Mike Hernacki. 1992. Quantum Learning: Membiasakan Belajar Nyaman dan Menyenangkan. Trans. Jakarta. MIZAN.
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