Widyaiswara Should Know This too: Teacher’s Competence

Widyaiswara has the main function as teaching agent to all trainees in governmental institution. In this sense, widyaiswara is similar to teacher in the nature of the task to perform. This posting is aimed at discussing what teacher’s competence is and enriching our knowledge (as widyaiswara) on the topic.
As learning agent, all educators, such as trainers/WI, teachers, etc should possess several competences. A competence is an integrated mastery of knowledge, skill, and attitude which is reflected in the working performance. Kepmendiknas (The Decree of Minister of National Education) No. 045/U/2002 defines competence as a set of intelligent and responsible acts in conducting all the duties of a certain job. So, teacher’s competence can be described as a unity of knowledge, skill and attitude which is reflected through intelligent and responsible acts in conducting duties as learning agents. UUGD (The Law of Teachers and Professors) and PP (Government Regulation) No. 19/2005 state that teacher’s competence includes personality, pedagogy, professionalism, and social competence. Those four teacher’s competences as well as the sub competence and the essential indicators will be discussed as follows:

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Personality competence

Personality competence is a personal ability which reflects firm, stable, mature, wise, and authoritative traits. Having personality competence also means becoming the role model for the learners and possessing good morality. Specifically, those sub competence will be described below:
1. A firm and stable personality sub competence: behaving according to the law norm; behaving according to the social norm; being proud as a teacher; and possessing a consistency in behaving according to the norm.
2. A mature personality competence: performing independence in acting as a teacher and having working ethos as a teacher.
3. A wise personality sub competence: performing benevolent attitude towards learners, school, and society, and showing open-minded view and behavior.
4. An authoritative personality sub competence: having a positive attitude towards the learners and having respectful behavior.
5. A good morality and becoming the role model sub competence: behaving according to religious norm (belief in God, being honest, being sincere, and helping others) and possessing behavior that can be adhered by learners.
Pedagogy competence
Pedagogy competence includes understanding the learners, designing and conducting the learning process, evaluating learning outcomes, and developing learner’s actualization of their potentials. Specifically, each sub competence is described as the following essential indicators.
1. Sub competence of understanding the learners: understanding the learners by employing the principles of cognitive development; understanding the learners by employing the principles of personality; and identifying pre-learning preparation of the learners.
2. Sub competence of designing the learning process, including understanding the educational framework for the sake of learning process: understanding the education framework; applying the study and learning theories; determining the learning strategy based on the learners’ characteristics, the desired competence, and the teaching material; and arranging the learning plans based on the selected strategy.
3. Sub competence of conducting learning process: organizing the learning setting; and conducting a conducive learning process.
4. Sub competence of designing and conducting learning evaluation: designing and conducting evaluation on the learning process and the learning result integrally using certain methods; analyzing the result of the learning process and the result of evaluation to determine the level of learning mastery; and the employment of the result of evaluation for the improvement of the quality of the learning program.
5. Sub competence of developing learner’s actualization of their potentials: facilitating the learners to develop their academic potentials and facilitating them to develop their non-academic potentials.
Professional competence
Professional competence is a broad and deep mastery of learning materials, which includes the mastery of subject curriculum materials and scientific substances related to the curriculum, and also the mastery of the structure and methodology. Every sub competence has these following essential indicators.
1. Sub competence of mastering the scientific substances related to subject curriculum: understanding the teaching material in the school curriculum; understanding the scientific structure, concept and methodology which is coherent with the teaching material; understanding the conceptual relation among the related subjects; and applying the scientific concepts in daily life.
2. Sub competence in mastery of scientific construction and methodology: mastering the research procedures and critical review to deepen the knowledge/subject materials.
Social competence
Social competence is the teacher’s ability to communicate and to live in harmony with students, colleague teacher, education staffs, parents, and the school environments effectively. The social competence comprises sub competences with these following essential indicators.
1. being able to communicate effectively with students and to live in harmony with them
2. being able to communicate effectively and to live in harmony with colleague teacher and school staffs
3. being able to communicate effectively and to live in harmony with parents or foster parents and people in the school environment.
It is necessary to note that those four competences (personality, pedagogy, professionalism and social) should be integrated in the real practice; one competence cannot be separated from the others. The above distinctions are made for easier understanding of the concept. Some experts said that the term professional competence is like an “umbrella”, because it includes other competences. On the other hand, the mastery of teaching material in deep and extensive way is more appropriate to be called the mastery of the teaching material resources (disciplinary content) or often labeled as skill subjects.

then, to view a teacher with competence refers to the expectation that he/she should possess

(1) an understanding of student’s unique characteristics,

(2) a mastery of teaching materials,

(3) the ability to conduct teaching and learning process, and

(4) the willingness to develop his/her professionalism and personality in a continuing process.

 

It needs a lengthy process to master all those four competence. And definitely, integrity is the key to drive all teachers to obtain them.

My Notion about Lesson Planning and Classroom Management

logo_rosc1In my view, Lesson Planning is vital for teachers for the success of the teaching and learning process. It will help teachers to resolve problems and difficulties, to provide a structure for a lesson, to provide a ‘map’ for teacher to follow and a record of what has been taught (Richards 1998). Thus, the class can run more smoothly and problems can be anticipated before they happen in class. For me, I need to make a lesson plan because I have to prepare and learn/review the material before teaching (although I have been teaching for almost 14 years, I still do that because the same content can be delivered using different strategies, depending on my students’ condition) so as to make me more confident in performing my teaching. If I am confident, I can maintain my students’ interest and attention to the Unit we discuss for the meeting. My preparation is usually for the ice-breaking activity, the language focus, and exercise practice for class activity and home assignment (topics are already plotted in the syllabus, so I can focus on the activity for the day: reading, writing, or speaking). I always prepare plan B in case something happen; for example, I prepare hand-out exercise to be written on WB or copied elsewhere if the electricity went out, while we are supposed to use the language lab , tape recorder, or LCD projector. With lesson plan, I can evaluate my teaching (some improvement or changes I should make for the next semester), and think of what other activities that are fun as well as meaningful for students in the next meeting.

Talking about classroom management, it can not be separated from motivating students, managing constraints, and managing teacher’s role (Harmer, 2004), and I am in full favor of that statement. English teachers are to deliver language skills, which needs application, not merely memorization. Therefore, teaching English needs teacher’s management skills to handle the classroom well in order to make the learning successful. In my experience, I motivate my students by explaining them the benefits to them if they can master English skills, especially in their workplace and career development in the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia (Depkeu RI). In our Ministry, chances to gain scholarship for studying abroad and involved in international diplomacy are widely open. Moreover, those who succeed in our bureaucracy are mostly fluent English speakers, either graduated from abroad universities or had taken overseas courses very often. Also, I tell my students to give them score of A if they actively participate in class activities, do all assignments, and manage the mid/final exam successfully. Since my students are adult learners, this works well to motivate them to be active in the learning process.

So, teachers, make a plan before going to classroom. *

CLT, Task-Based Learning, Lexical Approach

language-word-cloudCommunicative Language Teaching (CLT) emphasizes interaction as the means and also the ultimate goal of learning a language. I don’t really get the real track of CLT, but from some other references, the activities in CLT can be Role Play , Interviews , Information Gap, Games, Language Exchanges , Surveys, Pair Work, etc., and I believe most English teachers have tried some or all of those strategies to make their students communicate and interact in English. But I think this will not work for low levels students because they will not able to communicate with limited vocabulary and limited range of grammatical functions (like my elementary school students). So, I think using CLT for teachers must involve equipping students with vocabulary, structures, and also strategies to enable the students to interact successfully.

I agree with the point by Richards and Rodgers that CLT is basically about promoting learning. But, we must ask ourselves as teacher why we teach English, who we are teaching, and why. Are our students aiming to learn or acquire English? Do they need to know certain vocabulary and linguistic rules as a means of passing an exam, or do they want to be able to interact in English? If we use CLT, we must think of why we use this to our students.

The method of Task-Based Learning (TBL) in concentrated on learning tasks that students are involved, not on the language input (Harmer: 34). By task, I mean a goal-oriented activity with a clear purpose. I think TBL is related to CLT, because doing a communication task involves achieving an outcome, creating a final product that can be appreciated by other.

I once tried some strategies on TBL to my students of diploma III of STAN Jakarta for English 2 (third semester). I didn’t teach grammatical points formally, because the purpose is to make them speak better than the previous semester. Then I forced them to use English without telling them anything about grammar (they got it in English 1). The activities can be making a list of reasons, comparing things, enlisting procedures or things that need doing in certain condition, reading graphs and figures, personal sharing, or solving a problem.

For example when the topic is “Accounting”, a listing task is: List ten reasons why accounting is important (my students must know the answer since they got Principles of Accounting in semester 1). A comparing task might be to compare budgeting and accounting. A problem-solving task could be to think what might happen to a company that doesn’t have an accounting department. An experience sharing task could be sharing stories about their learning activity on Principles of Accounting class. My students do the tasks in pairs, then we discuss their works by some pairs presenting their answers and others comparing or commenting the work. By doing this, my students learn to communicate with whatever English they can recall; they have no fear of failure and teacher correction in front of classmates. In the language focus session, I explained specific features that they did in discussion, then I gave some practice to do at home (e.g. when I found they use comparatives, the exercise will be making three comparative sentences).

I find out that my students enjoy this strategy, because they also love challenging activities (indeed both STAN students and lecturers are assignment lovers…). I think this TBL is also a challenge for teacher too because the language focus part does need careful preparation. Teacher must be ready with whatever analysis activity to explain some problems. But, I have my own strategy: if I may not know the answers to incidental language questions, I just encourage them to explore the further answer on their own, and I will discuss it with them in the next meeting.

According to the literature that I read, the Lexical Approach develops many of the fundamental principles advanced by proponents of the Communicative Approach. The most important difference is the increased understanding of the nature of lexis in naturally occurring language, and its potential contribution to language pedagogy. Just like CLT, I think I do not have a clear idea of what the Lexical Approach actually looks like in practice.

As I see it, teaching vocabulary cannot be separated from grammar and topic of learning (e.g. accounting, taxation, families, pets, etc). I will tell an example of my teaching activity related to vocabulary building for my students at diploma III STAN Jakarta; I don’t know whether that uses Lexical Approach or not, but that activity gave my students new words in an organized and sequenced way.

Teaching vocabulary to me can be integrated with reading activity or communicative activity. I teach vocabulary material by taking the topic as listed in the syllabus . Since this was ESP class, I told my English 1 students before to learn by heart the list of special terms on the chapter at home. This because I do not want to always give everything to my students, sometimes they have to workout themselves. Then in the classroom, I gave an exercise (Fill in the blanks with the appropriate special terms listed in the right column. E.g. The profit that results from investments into a capital asset, such as stocks, bonds or real estate, which exceeds the purchase price is called…. The answer is capital gain). For me, it was a true vocabulary learning by students’ discovering themselves.*

Communicative Language Learning

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I was quite interested in reading Chapter 8 of Richard’s and Roger’s book on CLL because the language used in the chapter is much easier to understand than in other chapters in the book. Community Language Learning principles are from the “Counseling Learning Approach” developed by Charles A Curran, and I see it was created especially for adult learners who might fear to appear foolish; so the teacher becomes a language counselor who understands and leads students to overcome their fear.

Dealing with the types of learning and activities in CLL, they are combination of conventional and innovative tasks: translation, group work, recording, transcription, analysis, reflection and observation, listening, and free conversation. As I see it, those activities are good to improve student’s oral proficiency, because as members of a community, students must be more active and attentive as the teacher is more focused as counselor. I think the techniques used in CLL can build relationship between students because they feel in control and interact among them without any fear. Especially noteworthy is the non-threatening atmosphere and the non-defensive learning, which can enhance security, involvement, attention, and cooperation.

If I am to use CLL, I think I will use it for diploma I students of STAN (State College of Accountancy) Jakarta from Eastern Indonesia classes, and I put it in the introductory speaking class. I just can adopt the lesson plan of CLL to my class. This will be different for my diploma IV classes, because all students have intermediate-advanced level mastery of English. I think I will put it on class presentation activities and I don’t allow students to use native language (Bahasa Indonesia) in this level (English for diploma IV focus on the ability to write academic paper and make presentation). Indeed, it is a tough task for me to teach at STAN, since my classes are ESP, which means I must not only rely on my proficiency but also have to improve my knowledge on Accounting to explain the technical terms. I am not quite sure that I can be such that counselor, who must be non-directive (teaching traditionally or correcting mistakes), but I can be a sympathetic teacher to cope with any responses by my adult learners.

Another thing is on the analysis and reflection techniques. The objective of English classes in my campus is more on the student’s fluency, so actually minor grammatical mistake is alright for me. I explain grammar only if my students make fatal or major mistakes in grammar. What I can do according to CLL is then I must repeat the correct sentence over and over again until students learn from the mistake.

In other words, I can say that CLL will work with my elementary classes; but to deal with more advanced students, I cannot use a hundred percent CLL technique. This method is constrained by the system under which it operates, and I don’t guarantee that using it will help my students in the examination (UTS and UAS). But, to conclude, I think CLL also has contribution to make lessons communicative and interactive.

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Ini yang Merusak Mahasiswa (Kampus Z)!

Posting ini dibuat usai berdiskusi hangat dengan Mr. A yang dipasang untuk mengajar English 3 di prodip IV bersama saya pas menjelang waktu Ashar (btw, I plan not to teach this semester, but for some reasons I swap my class of D3 Khusus with D-IV). Intinya saat itu tidak ada titik temu antara kami dalam pengajaran English 3, dan saya sudah dijembatani oleh Bidang bahwa silakan kami berdua jalan dengan plan kami masing-masing. How silly, masak tidak ada keseragaman kurikulum di antara kami, although the fact is I am the dosko for this subject!?!
What I learnt from our discussion is that still some lecturers think that they are the great helpers to their students, but I just see them as poisoning their learners. Here are my proofs:
1. Mengajar sesuatu yang bukan spesialisasi kita
Personally, I will not teach something beyond my knowledge and experience. I’m an Indonesian and a moslem: I speak Indonesian very fluently; in addition, I pray, read Qur’an, etc but I will not take MK Bhs Indonesia or Agama Islam because those are not my specialty. Similarly, although you were an overseas CPA, or a fluent Ph.D, don’t take a skill class like English if you are not really aware of linguistics aspects and pedagogy.
2. Memberi nilai secara pukul rata pada mahasiswa.
Here are their reasons: D-IV students will be future accountant, never ground them because of English, so let‘s give them all a B minus. I didn’t take that silly reason. In my view, the success of a student is from the way he treats all subjects he is taking. I always tell my class that they have the chance of getting an A to F in English 3 if they want to. In my life, I can always be responsible for any single mark I gave to my students, for I record very carefully their progress and achievement, and this proofs useful to help them gain better score (although once I grounded some students for cheating and plagiarism, but for God sake I am truly aware of that decision and I will take the responsibility even to GOD because I know what I am doing). To me, students have the right to gain the maximum mark of A in all subjects, as long as they work hard for it. I will never violates the students’ assessment, it’s their right to be evaluated fairly.
3. Mengira hanya pelajaran Akuntansi saja yang paling penting buat mahasiswa DIV.
They didn’t say that explicitly, but I know the point is exactly like that. Listen all teachers, being an accountant is not everything. Being just and fair is the thing. Never underestimate other subjects, because we are all one body: your head will not work if your heart stops beating. In this era, you are not a competitive accountant if you don’t master ICT, English, etc, and more importantly akuntan di Indonesia sudah banyak, yang ber-IPK tinggi juga banyak, tapi yang dicari pasti yang punya nilai lebih yaitu MORAL. Buat apa IPK 4 tapi akhlaq nol, hanya menambah panjang daftar calon penipu and koruptor di Indoensia. If we, lecturer, demoralize our learners to be serious in all subjects they take, we just teach them to cheat. Some students named me Ms. Evil because I necessiate them to be discipline and never tolerate any indiscipline things, but I don’t mind that calling. Deep inside, I did that because I love my students and love is all I take in every class I teach and to every students I face. That is the essence of learning to me, and I just hope that someday they realize that what they thought as burden during my class is actually my great help to them for their own good. So note this: Accountancy can be number one in this campus, but it’s NOT the only one in academic life, got that mate?
4. Menganggap semua mahasiswa D-IV bisa belajar sendiri, jadi santai dan have fun saja in class.
I am in full agreement that learning should enjoyable and fun for students, but it doesn’t mean that we can take the class so easy. Bagaimana kita hanya bisa memberi mereka text bacaan dan membiarkan mereka membaca dan membahas sendiri, kemudian mempresentasikannya di kelas tanpa kita ajari bagaimana cara memahami wacana dan cara berpresentasi dalam formal meeting? Itu seperti mengajari siswa berenang dengan cara menceburkan mereka ke kolam renang dan berharap mereka bisa mengambang dan sampai ke tepi kolam dengan sendirinya. For some skilled students, it will work; but for those inexperienced ones, they will be drowned to the bottom of the pool. Ini juga pesan buat mahasiswa, change your mindset: don’t fool yourself with your idea ‘kuliah santai gapapa yang penting nilai A’ but the fact is you get nothing. Mau jadi apa kualitas pendidikan kita sekarang kalau dosen dan mahasiswanya sama saja error-nya?

Sebenarnya masih ada beberapa hal lagi, tapi tidak perlu saya tulis di sini. Paling tidak yang sudah saya tulis di atas sudah saya sampaikan ke rekan-rekan saya, dan lega juga sudah menuliskannya. Mau komentar?

Kampus boleh jelek, kualitas mahasiswa tetap harus nomor 1.
Kampus boleh jelek, kualitas mahasiswa tetap harus nomor 1.