Pursuing Professional Development: The Self as Source
Kathleen M. Bailey, Andy Curtis and David Nunan (2001)
Boston, Massachusetts: Heinle and Heinle.
Pp. vi + 277
ISBN 083841130-4 (paper)
US $25.95 (paper)
Series editor Donald Freeman, states that each volume of the TeacherSource series offers the reader a point of view on a different aspect of second/foreign language teaching. He goes on to add that one of the features that distinguishes this series from others is that each book has its own 'personality.' Each author in this series has been charged with the mission of laying out what they think or believe to be central to their topic and how they arrived at this understanding. This is the certainly the case with Pursuing Professional Development: The Self as Source. This volume, co-authored by three prominent EF/SL professionals, offers valuable insights into the importance of exploiting personal experiences as a source of continuing professional development.
The Bailey, Curtis and Nunan volume is one in the series of TeacherSource. This series is a must for those interested in self-development by means of reflecting on their own learning and teaching experiences. This series focuses the reader on three interdependent perspectives or what the authors refer to as 'three books in one.' Teacher's voices provides teachers with opportunities to explore and know about teaching. In this section, practicing teachers from various educational settings describe their experiences around a certain topic or theme. The Frameworks section helps teachers understand practical applications of research on teaching and learning. Here the authors describe an approach and its underlying principles while relating it to theory and research. Caveats and pitfalls when using the approach described are also elucidated in this section of the volume. Investigations encourages teachers to participate in a variety of insightful tasks as they explore their own teaching style. This volume treats teacher development in a very personal and narrative style, instead of the traditional fact-based approach. The purpose of this section is to engage readers by helping them relate the topic to their own context. The authors present the ways in which teachers can understand their daily work with students and they provide activities (either stand-alone or ones that can be practiced in groups) designed to deepen the reader's understanding of the professional development approach described.
Chapter 1 interestingly describes the evolution of the book and how the authors came together to collaborate on such an endeavor. Their definition of professional development (PD) is set forth and some important issues are described (i.e. reasons for pursuing PD, factors at the heart of PD, approaches, and burnout among others). These issues effectively situate the volume in context.
Chapter 2 adds to the theoretical base by examining such important concepts as self-awareness and self-observation, what the authors refer to as the 'cornerstones of all professional development.' This chapter and the next (Chapter 3) on reflective teaching provide a springboard for all further concepts in the book. Whereas Chapter 2 examines the construct of awareness, how it is promoted, and how it functions in professional development; chapter 3 describes the concept of 'reflective teaching' and how it underpins practices detailed in the rest of the volume. The beginning of this important chapter is structured around a series of questions that are posited to make educators more aware of what is meant by reflective teaching.
Chapters 4 through 7 introduce and describe five professional development procedures that can be practiced by individual teachers. The main topic of Chapter 4 is the teaching journal and the benefits it can have on teaching, data analysis and furthering professional development. Chapter 5 discusses case studies and/or histories and their importance on teaching. Co-author, Kathi Bailey, leads off this chapter with an interesting story from her own teaching career about 'a disappointing day in her classroom.' Language learning experiences are the theme of the next chapter. Investigations, frameworks and teachers' voices all stress the importance of putting yourself in the language learner's shoes. Chapter 7 explores the use of video in professional development and describes the benefits of videotaping your lessons as a means of gaining insight into teacher strengths and weaknesses. Conducting action research in the classroom as a professional development activity is the main focus of Chapter 8. The concentration here is on training teachers to conduct action research and in setting up action research networks.
The next three chapters investigate a number of procedures that involve teacher collaboration. Chapter 9 describes a way to 'break down barriers' in the classroom. According to the authors, using peer observation, is an excellent way to get discussion going about what is happening in language classrooms. Team teaching is the focus for the next chapter. Here a multitude of information about team teaching is conveyed (i.e. organizational patterns in team teaching, the advantages and disadvantages of the approach, and different models of content-based instruction). I found the questionnaire about the topic of team teaching on page 186 and the diary entries of two of the authors to be particularly useful. Chapter 11 discusses two approaches to professional development that came to our field from general education--mentoring and coaching. The teaching portfolio as a strategy for further development is the focus of Chapter 12. In this chapter, the authors offer suggestions about what should be included in a teaching portfolio and warn about some of the problems associated with this approach.
The final chapter effectively and cogently sums up the book and its main purpose. That is to provide teachers with ideas about generating their own professional development opportunities.
Pursuing Professional Development: The Self as Source is an essential read for those working in the language teaching profession. The authors have done an admirable job in providing readers with the many diverse approaches to professional development. They write that "we hope this book has encouraged you to take active steps" in the area of professional development. Well, I can't answer for my colleagues, but for me it certainly has! The Bailey, Curtis and Nunan volume is a valuable addition to any ELT practitioner's library.
Dubai Men's College-Higher Colleges of Technology
© Copyright rests with authors. Please cite TESL-EJ appropriately.
Editor's Note: Dashed numbers in square brackets indicate the end of each page for purposes of citation..