Educationis indisputably the foundation of social, political, cultural,economic, and environmental structures. Education is a dynamicprocess that combines formal and informal processes and institutionsto empower people with skills, competencies, abilities and strengthsto become critical, creative, and innovative individuals, beneficialto societies and able to engage in positive activities with otherhuman beings. The importance of education necessitates effective,reliable and efficient policies and structures that address differentindividual needs, incorporate different strengths, and empowerdifferent individuals. Education has to be inclusive. Education mustidentify and factor all shortcomings among students, whileestablishing an equal learning environment that facilitates learning,self-actualization and success. According to Dufour (2004), one ofthe ways of streamlining education practices is implementation ofeducational reforms based on students’ needs, global changes, andemerging challenges among students.
Educationreforms are defined as appropriate and inclusive changes to thepublic education systems with aims of improving desired outcomes, andstreamlining education along global, local, and cultural demands. Thefollowing paper designs an education reform in the United ArabEmirates, one of the fastest growing countries in the Middle East.The economic, social, and political structures in the country areshowing potential of dominating the region and competing in theinternational platforms. One of the recent educational reformsimplemented in the country is curriculum development tailored for theglobal science and technology revolutions (Timperley, Wilson, Barrar,& Fung, 2007). The main objective of the curriculum developmentreform is to enhance creativity and innovation among students inorder to meet the demands of a growing economy. However, the reformis not central in improving quality of education in the country. One of the most effective reforms that should be implemented in theUAE education is best teaching practices. Despite the significance ofcurriculum development in promoting quality of graduates, the qualityof delivery processes influences the level of understanding andself-learning abilities of students.
Teachersmust have professional-based practices in order to promotepreparation, accountability and delivery systems. Effective andprofessional-based best practices depend on the teachers’ allocatedtime to introduce, deliver and assess students’ response to coursematerials. Teachers must be committed to maximize their timeaccording to the students’ wants and depending on the schedules setaside for students’ learning. Professional-oriented teachers mustconcentrate on the multiple intelligence theory that targetsdifferent students’ capabilities based on levels and frameworks ofintelligence.
Themajor difference between curriculum development and professionalteaching practices are in the identification of specific studentsneed and the ability of teachers to deliver as per the curriculum andprofessional expectations. According to the multiple intelligencetheory, teachers must be competent in the eight levels and structuresof intelligence. Professional oriented delivery focuses on thelogical intelligence, linguistics, kinesthetic, musical, and special.Additionally, professionally oriented teachers must enhance theirinterpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic intelligences.
Accordingto Kirkand Napier (2009),teachers’ behaviors and conducts must be professionally outlined inpractice charter. The charters contain principles as well as ethicaland moral roles expected of all teachers. This ensures that teachersact within professional and institutional policies with aims ofpromoting the welfare of teachers. Enhancement of the teachingpractice encompasses all other reform processes, since it transfersoverall objectives to the performance and employability of students.
Oneof the most effective ways of identifying and initiatingprofessional-based reforms is concentrating on institutional,country, local, and international needs. Professional-based practiceand improvement of teachers’ practice is one of the most effectiveways of promoting cultural identity, creativity and innovation amongstudents. Enhancement of teaching practices, through the applicationof evidence-based initiatives prepares teachers to embrace theirdiversities and competencies in order to focus on creativity andcritical evaluation of the country’s potentials in social,political and technological developments. Professional-based teachingpractices starts with training of workforce in order to instillrelevant skills required to empower and enhance student competencies(Kirk& Napier, 2009).One of the major challenges with UAE education is diversification.Within the few decades of operation, the country has grown to beamong the fastest growing economies in the region. The growth hascontributed immensely to the rate of immigration by regional andinternational students seeking to diversify their educationalexperiences, and those inspired by the country’s strong economicperformance.
Diversityhas also emerged alongside fading Islamic cultures, some of whichprevented women and other minority groups from accessing education.Currently, the country takes pride in exercising some of the mostliberated educational policies in the region. The education sector isfull of Emirati women and minority groups, who find the currentsystem, open to diversification and development. However, some of theindividuals enrolled in the country’s educational system havedifferent competent rates. In fact, Tabari(2014)considers the current classroom environment in the country ascharacterized by culturally diverse mixed abilities.
Teachers’participation in providing great instruction has direct effects onstudents’ perceptions, curricula efficiency and learningenvironment. When students’ success is associated with quality ofinstructions, teachers’ roles become imperative. Teachers are thecore platform for delivery and distribution of great instruction asembedded within curricula policies, professional experiences andschool’s leadership frameworks. Teachers require institutionalsupport to deliver great instructions for the sake of students’success.
Accordingto Jessie (2007), one of the most effective ways of empoweringteachers with capacity to deliver great instructions is throughprofessional learning communities. According to Dufour (2004),professional learning communities are founded on learning rather thanteaching, with professional working collaboratively and takingresponsibility of results. Teachers are meant to learn as they teach.The approach to teaching in a professional learning community shiftsfrom transfer of knowledge to acquisition of knowledge to assess thebest contents for students. Professional learning communities focuson collaborative work among professionals with shared goals ofacquiring personal competence for the sake of students’ academicdevelopment. In professional learning environments, the performanceof students is reflected as teachers’ competent. Teachers takepersonal responsibilities and accountability for students’performance.
Oneof the significant indications from these studies is that teachercompetence and effectiveness influence student achievement. Schoolsrequire competent professionals to enhance performance. However, thisdoes not imply that teachers’ effectiveness should be relied solelyfor enhancing student performance. Various limitations, for example,students’ demographics, attitudes and personal competencies havebeen found to affect student achievement. Since teachers were foundto have significant effect on students’ performance, researchersembarked on investigating teachers’ effectiveness in terms ofproduction quality and output.
Researchershave concentrated on collaborative leadership theory, systems theoryand total quality management theories to explore the most effectiveway of enhancing effectiveness among teachers. Most of these theorieshave proved to be effective, but additional research was needed toexamine the bet and sustainable way of improving performance. Despitethe attempts to find sustainable solutions, the theories appeared tohave weaknesses and they failed to offer long-term solutions tostudent underperformance. However, some of the common solutions thatemerged in every theory under investigation included professionaldevelopment and professional collaboration. Most of the theoriesindicated sustainability with professional development andcollaboration.
Accordingto Timperley, Wilson, Barrar and Fung (2007), professionaldevelopment and collaboration takes place in a cycle. One of therequirements in the development cycle is to understand the students’learning needs. In the UAE, every teacher must ensure that everystudent understands the students’ capacity, potential andrequirements. Teachers must understand students’ skills andknowledge in order to identify additional requirements for improvedperformance. When teachers understand the students’ learning needs,they assess their attributes and skills to impart additional skillsand knowledge to the existing competencies.
Theother step in professional development and collaboration cycle isassessment of teachers’ learning needs. Professional developmentprocess requires teachers to assess how personal competencies andskills have been applied towards enhancing student outcomes. Teachersmust assess what they know and the knowledge gaps required inpromoting value among students. One of the advantages of this step isthat it promotes self-assessment among teachers. After understandingthe student learning needs and professional learning expectations,teachers identify relevant skills required to promote learningoutcomes. After assessing professional and students needs, the otherstep involves designing relevant tasks and experiences required topromote value in learning. The design process must be aligned alonglearning outcomes and expectations. Every task must satisfy thelearning needs identified in the first processes of professional andstudents’ assessments. Once all the tasks are identified anddesigned, the other step involves actual implementation of teachingdesigns to promote value.
Wright(2002) established that assessments should strive to portray how wellthe students have learned what is indeed intended for them to learn,while instructions set in to ensure that the students learn it. Forsuch a case to prevail, Darling-Hammond (2001) indicated thatobjectives, instructions, as well as, assessments ought to be closelyaligned. This alignment is essentially critical, since it ensuresthat the three core elements reinforce one another in all UAEschools. In a situation in which they are not appropriately aligned,Darling-Hammond (2001) stated that not only the motivation but alsothe ability to learn on the part of the student is hampered. However,considering the current wave of educational reforms, a set of changesthat are characterized by the potential to affect this alignment,have been undertaken. A good account of such changes is the emphasisof high-stake test in schools. A high stake test is described byWright (2002) as any form of test used with the aim of makingessential decisions regarding students, schools, and educators amongother stakeholders within the education sphere for the purpose ofaccountability. The most common definition of the term is that it isa form of test that has critical consequences for the individualperforming the test. Generally, high stakes implies that the testscores are used as a guide towards determining the extents ofpunishment, accolade and advancement on the part of the students. Inthe current practice, the continued usage of high stake testing hashad a significant effect on the interrelatedness between curriculum,instruction, and assessment. However, for one to understand theseimpacts, it would be essential to acknowledge the said interrelation.
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