Designing Professional Development/Singapore

Professional Development in Singapore edit

Today, Singapore is a global hub of trade, finance and transportation, one of Asia’s great success stories. Its schools are ranked high on the list of the world’s best-performing school systems. Educators around the world are wondering how Singapore has achieved its world-beating levels of performance in the education field. The answer, according to Singapore educators is: a coherent curriculum delivered to every school by high-quality teachers.[1]

Singapore’s policy makers decided early on to invest in their human resources and to dream, design and deliver a solid education to every child. Good teachers and effective school leaders to form the cornerstone of that system. A high-quality teacher workforce doesn’t simply happen by chance or as a result of a cultural respect for teaching; it is a result of deliberate policy choices. Singapore has developed a comprehensive system for selecting, training, compensating and developing teachers and principals.[2]

Pre-service Preparation edit

Introduction edit

The National Institute of Education (NIE) is the only teacher education institution in Singapore and all pre-service teachers for the Singapore education system are trained at this one Institution. There are several programs for the pre-service preparation of teachers for the various levels of schools. Within the context of a national educational system which is very centrally controlled, teacher education programs have changed much over the past decade, constantly seeking improvement, not only in response to environmental changes but also to be leaders of change in the educational field.

ICT training for pre-service teachers in Singapore edit

In recent years, the Singaporean government has paid much attention to ensure that school teachers are proficient in integrating information and communication technology (ICT) in the teaching–learning process.[3] ICT has always been encouraged in the Singapore education system. While there is no explicit policy on how much and how it should be used within the curriculum, teachers tacitly know the need to incorporate the use of ICT in teaching and learning. Some schools even go as far as mandating a certain percentage of curriculum time. There are 3 ICT Master Plans to refer to and there are professional development courses to support but the effort is not seen as a single program but rather, NIE provides the PD courses on ICT when the demand arises. Ministry of Education (MOE) has an educational technology branch that provides the direction on ICT use and it is through them that PD courses on ICT are requested from NIE.

Organized into core and elective courses, these are designed to allow pre-service teachers to develop their skills in the use of ICT in teaching and learning. All pre-service teachers enroll in the core course entitled “ICT for Engaged Learning”. It exposes the participants to the principles and practice of integrating ICT in classroom teaching and learning, with due pedagogical considerations on the planning, implementing and classroom management processes. In addition, pre-service teachers may enroll in elective courses to learn about using ICT as a cognitive tool or computer-supported collaborative learning.

Discussion from Singapore barcamp of March 2009

The NIE IT Plan edit

The Singapore government launched the Master Plan for Information Technology (IT) in Education in 1997 to usher in a new era in educational development. The Master Plan emphasized the importance of teacher development in IT and specified three goals: 1) to train every teacher in purposeful use of IT for teaching; 2) to equip trainee teachers with core skills in teaching with IT; and 3) to involve institutions of higher learning and industry partners in schools. Under this IT Master Plan, the National Institute of Education (NIE), as the only pre-service teacher training institution in Singapore, is entrusted with the integration of IT into its initial teacher training programs. To meet the needs of the government, NIE developed its IT plan in 1998 and specified the four main focal areas of change: revising the curriculum; upgrading of physical and technological infrastructure; developing the human resource infrastructure; and strengthening research and development efforts in the use of IT in education.[4]

Features of the plan edit

The study shows that:[5]

  • The NIE IT Plan was a systematic approach to create an IT-integrated teaching and learning environment in which IT is integrated into the curricula and the teaching and learning process of NIE.
  • The NIE has implemented its IT plan with strong commitment and affluent resources, and built an IT-integrated learning environment. The physical and technological infrastructure proposed in the Plan has been successfully established.
  • Curriculum revision has been done to ensure that pre-service teachers are equipped with the appropriate skills to integrate IT into teaching and learning, and to allow them to experience the benefits of learning in an IT–integrated environment.
  • NIE has initiated a program of applied and strategic research and development in instructional science and technology. However, the needs for long-term effectiveness research have been indicated.
  • NIE students who received IT training showed a tendency to apply knowledge or skills they learned at NIE in their classroom teaching.

Continuous Development edit

Introduction edit

The academy of Singapore teachers (AST) indicates that professional development (PD) is a process in which officers (Education Officers, Allied Educators, Executive and Administrative Staff) acquire a body of knowledge and skills to perform their role at each stage of their career and to progress to the next level. The enactment of curriculum depends on the quality of the teachers. While teachers may have received strong foundation training in pre-service certification programs, and continuous professional development ensures pervasive update and upgrade on the quality of teachers. It is in this belief that the Ministry of Education has set up the AST to promote teacher professionalism. National Institute of Education (NIE) works closely with AST to provide teacher professional development programs to this end. And Singaporean teachers are entitled to 100 hours of yearly professional development, much of it workshop-style in nature.

Main roles for teacher professional development in Singapore edit

  • Teachers' Mindset –If teachers' mindset isn't in the "right place" for implementing a new initiative, whatever else we do may not be useful.
  • Helping Teachers to Construct Knowledge— Teachers, like students, need to construct knowledge, not just receive it.
  • Enhancing Learning Capacity—Teachers should be life-long learners. An important goal of professional development, therefore, is to enhance teachers' capacity to learn.[6]

Key elements of the system edit

Recruitment edit

The prospective teachers are selected attentively from the top one third of the secondly schooling graduating class. Prospective teachers need high academic results, and they should commit to the profession and to serving to diverse student bodies. They will receive 60% of the teaching salary when they are in training and commit to teaching for at least 3 years. Their interesting in teaching is built early when they do the internship, and a system for mid-career entry is also existed.

Training edit

All teachers receive theirs trainings from the National Institute of Education at Nayang Technological University, and they can decide whether to receive it in a diploma or a degree course depending on their level of education at entry. Besides, between the Institute and schools there is a close working relationship that master teachers mentor every new teacher for several years.

Professional Development edit

Teachers accept 100 hours’ professional development every year, and they may take it in several ways. Firstly, they could study courses at the National Institute of Education which focus on subject matter and pedagogical knowledge. Secondly, they could go aboard to the other countries to examine aspects of education with the funds supported by school. Further, teachers could share their best practices in the Singapore Teachers’ centre which will be set to open later in 2010.

Performance appraisal edit

Teachers’ performance will be evaluated every year like the other occupational in Singapore by a number of people in several aspects which are the academic contributions, their students’ character development, their collaboration with parents and community groups and their contributions to their colleagues and the school as a whole. Besides, teachers could get bonus if they do outstanding work.

Career Development edit

Teachers’ performance are evaluated annually to determine whether they have the potential for three different career paths after their three years’ teaching, and three career paths respectively are master teacher, specialist in curriculum or research, or school leader, each with salary increments. Teachers with potential to become school leader will enter into the middle management. After that, according to the performance assessing, middle managers will have the chance to become assistant principals and principals later.[7]

Conclusions edit

Since they pay more attention to the high-quality people recruitment and give the good training and continuing support, there is almost no education failure in Singapore.

However, although Singapore’s creative education system is so successful, and it has directly effect on its economic growth in the global economy, the country is still looking for developing a new education policy framework as the it has already recognize that innovation will be the key to the country’s future. Thus, a committee of the National Institute of Education released a report a report called “A Teacher Education for the 21st Century” which outlines how to meet these goals through redesigning the teacher training to further strengthen the skills and knowledge of teachers.

In Singapore, the policy is easier to implement and there is good communication between the Ministry, the National Institute of Education and the schools due to that Singapore is small and has more centralized education system. In the past, the city-state developed its system by drawing the best practice of other countries, and now they should learn from Singapore.

External links edit

References edit

  1. Vivien Stewart,
  2. Vivien Stewart,
  3. Timothy Teo, Chwee Beng Lee, Ching Sing Chai, Su Luan Wong,2009,Assessing the intention to use technology among pre-service teachers in Singapore and Malaysia: A multigroup invariance analysis of the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM),Computers and Education,53,1000-1009
  4. Insung Jung,2000,Singapore: Pre-service Teacher Training in Technology Use,Technologies at work,Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.
  5. Insung Jung,2000,Singapore: Pre-service Teacher Training in Technology Use,Technologies at work,Knowledge Enterprise, Inc
  6. Sandy Berger,
  7. Vivien Stewart,