Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Teacher's Role and Autonomy in Instructional Planning: The Case of Secondary School History Teachers with Regard to the Preparation and Implementation of Annual Instructional Plans

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Teacher's Role and Autonomy in Instructional Planning: The Case of Secondary School History Teachers with Regard to the Preparation and Implementation of Annual Instructional Plans

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study seeks to analyze the role of history teachers in instructional planning and their areas of autonomy in Turkey. The concept of teacher autonomy briefly refers to the authority and freedom of teachers in the planning and implementation of the instructional activities and the decisions made during the instructional process. The objective of the present study is to investigate the degree of participation of the teachers in the selection and preparation of the teaching methods, content and materials throughout the preparation and implementation of the annual instructional plans. The study aims to analyze the issue in depth by qualitative research design focusing on a small sampling group consisting 11 participants. The findings have indicated that the role of the teachers in the preparation of the annual instructional plans was quite limited and that the contents of the plans were mostly borrowed from textbooks and the official curriculum. It was also observed that, in the classroom practices, teachers usually reflected their preferences and personal decisions on the instructional process more than what was given in the instructional plans. However, it is difficult to say that this flexibility was able to provide an instructional process designed in line with the classroom realities and the students' learning styles.

Key Words

Instructional Planning, Annual Instructional Plans, History Teaching, Teacher Autonomy.

In the scientific literature, the concept of the teacher autonomy is defined by many scholars and these definitions contain important differences. However, one common ground the different definitions agree on is that the concept of autonomy refers essentially to the freedom and the power of the teachers in their professional activities (Castle, 2004; Friedman, 1999; Pearson & Hall, 1993; Short, 1994). The teacher autonomy is not confined to the planning and implementing of the teaching activities. It covers equally the improvement of the teachers' role and power in decision-making regarding the regulation of working conditions and school environment, and the management of the human, financial and material sources (Friedman, 1999; Öztürk, 2011a).

The recognition of greater powers for teachers is essential to ensure that they properly carry out their duties and do their assignments. The low degree of power and autonomy assigned to the teachers in the drafting and planning of the teaching methods and contents lie in conflict with the larger sphere of their responsibilities (Ingersoll, 2007). The teacher autonomy is a very important consideration in recognizing teaching as a profession and developing professional teachers. If teachers are to be empowered and regarded as professional individuals, like medical doctors or lawyers, they must have the power and freedom in their professional practices (Pearson & Moomaw, 2005; Webb, 2002).

Otherwise, many researchers stress the importance of the balance between the autonomy and the responsibility for the effective functioning of the school activities (Anderson, 1987; Gutmann, 1999). Some researchers (Little, 1990; Pearson & Moomaw, 2005) warn that the autonomy should neither be perceived nor employed as a kind of freedom that keeps teachers away from cooperation with their colleagues and the school management, leaving them in professional isolation.

Teacher Autonomy in Instructional Planning in Turkey

Instructional plans have a crucial function in helping teachers participate in the planning of instructional practices, which enables teachers to create a unique design for their own students. Student- Centered approaches make it necessary that the curriculum programs should be dynamic and be designed in a shape that is conducive to further development and modifications during the implementation process (Galton, 1998). The process of curriculum development does not end with the preparation of curriculum programs; it continues with the teachers' instructional planning activities, finalizing with the actual delivery of the instruction in the classroom (Varis, 1997). …

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