The Role of Widyaiswara: How to Become an Efficient Facilitator

07012012(011)Abstract

Recently, the content of education at all levels is changing.  It includes philosophy and the way of teaching, assessing, and curriculum which are applied in the field of education.   Balai Diklat Keagamaan as an officially place for training should extend its ambition, its scope, its approach, its modes of provision and its professionalism.  The availability of efficient trainers or Widyaiswara cannot be neglected.  So it is important for widyaiswara to enlarge their capability to fulfill the need of teachers who wants to join professional development in Balai Diklat Keagamaan, or to be efficient facilitators.  So, Widyaiswara as an efficient facilitator should have to be able to fulfill various, and sometimes conflicting, roles to support authorities, school leaders and teachers and to find the right balance in such matters.  Tactic and diplomacy become increasingly important in the accurate processes of training, innovation and change

Key words: Balai Diklat, widyaiswara, efficient facilitator.

Introduction

The idea that teachers are also learners, and should always be lifelong learners, has gradually become more important over the last years to increase their professional development.  To be knowledgeable and competent teachers who are aware of societal needs, they will have to engage in lifelong learning. There are several reasons for this. First, the content of education at all levels is changing.  It includes philosophy and the way of teaching, assessing, and curriculum which are applied in the field of education recently.

Secondly, lifelong learning is also important because the pedagogy of teaching is developing rapidly. In the past, teaching was to a high extent teacher-centered and teachers were expected to transfer their knowledge to their students. Teaching is now increasingly student-centered and has turned into a process in which communication with students, among students and among colleagues is crucial. Schools have developed new structures and climates that allow teachers to become lifelong learners in connection with the local community and the outside world (OECD, 2005).

One way to engage lifelong learning is by joining an in-service training in the centre of teacher training (Balai Pendidikan dan Pelatihan Guru).  For Madrasah teachers,  Balai Diklat Keagamaan is officially the place to join such activities to increase their professional development

While teachers participate in in-service training for just a few days, actually they are increasingly challenged to participate in such new activities during their whole professional career.  By emphasizing the importance of in-service training, Balai Diklat Keagamaan should extend its ambition, its scope, its approach, its modes of provision and its professionalism.  The availability of efficient trainers or Widyaiswara cannot be neglected.  So it is important for widyaiswara to enlarge their capability to fulfill the need of teachers who wants to join professional development in Balai Diklat Keagamaan, or to be efficient facilitators.

The modern in-service training facilitator is a multi-headed monster – in a positive way – with a variety of tasks and roles. He/she is a person who operates in various organizational settings and is using a variety of educational modes, like virtual environments, group work, organizational consultation and experts’ input.

I will first describe the changing concepts of in-service training and argue that in line with developments in primary and secondary education, the contents and pedagogy of in-service training are also changing. The focus of this study is the in-service training facilitator who supports teachers to continuously develop their knowledge and skills. I will describe the dilemmas, challenges and possibilities to become an efficient in-service training facilitators and the ways they, like teachers, can develop and become a lifelong learners.

The Changing Concepts of In-Service Training

In the last decade, several countries, like Estonia, Malta and the German and French-speaking part of Belgium, have made in-service education one of the official responsibilities of teachers and made in-service education compulsory for teachers. Continuing professional development as a professional duty for individual teachers has also been reinforced in Belgium (Flemish Community), the Netherlands and Scotland (Eurydice, 2003).  Although countries support lifelong learning for teachers, the minimum annual time allocated to compulsory in-service training varies considerably from one country to the next. According to the collective labor agreement in the Netherlands, 10% of the teacher’s annual working time has to be allocated to learning activities (e.g. courses) to enhance the professional development. This 10% is by far the highest number of hours a year of all European countries.  Sweden reports the next highest number of hours a year (104 on average).

What is considered as organized in-service learning activities in various countries may also depend on the historical, social, institutional and cultural contexts and traditions of the educational systems in different regions and/or countries.  In Europe, educational systems differ among countries and sometimes even among regions of countries (Eurydice, 2003).

Previously, Indonesian educational systems were centralized organization.  In-service training centers (Balai Diklat) depend on top-down initiatives.  Now days, Balai Diklat may be organized in a more democratic way.  So, Widyaiswara should have to be able to fulfill various, and sometimes conflicting, roles to support authorities, school leaders and teachers and to find the right balance in such matters.  Tactic and diplomacy become increasingly important in the accurate processes of training, innovation and change.

The Learning Styles of Adult Learners

While in-service learning facilitators support the learning of adult learners who have a career in teaching,

I will highlight a few of the most important characteristics of adult learning that are developed within human resource management and are important to understand the work of in-service training facilitators. What is it that helps people learn?  Warries and Pieters (1992) have developed a useful model that identifies the basic determinants of successful adult learning and is known as the ARCS model, and acronym referring to the words attention, relevance, confidence and satisfaction.

First, the attention of learners must be caught; second, learners have to be certain of the relevance of the learning content; third, the learners will have to feel confident that the goals set out are within reach for them; and fourth, it must be clear that the learning fulfils a need.  It is important to realize that this creates the dilemma of balancing immediate satisfaction and long-term learning.  A pleasant learning activity may be soon forgotten; the often painful process of pushing oneself to a higher level of performance may have a lifelong impact that is highly appreciated in the longer term.

Based on some literatures, we can distinguish important characteristics for adult learning. It is nowadays commonly accepted that effective adult education has to be:

  1. Active, means that the learning must be learning by doing rather than through preaching.
  2. Constructive, This learning implies that we seek to create and develop our own knowledge and competence rather than absorb what others have found out for us
  3. Social, Learning together with and from each other.  The interaction is vital for experimenting with, and checking of, one’s own newly got insights
  4. Self-directed, Learning will be more effective when the learner is in charge of his/her own learning process and the trainer or the teacher takes the role of facilitator rather than of director.  This does not imply that this latter role cannot be taken once learner and teacher agree on it.
  5. Reflective, This does not only include a process of reflecting on ones performance in general, but also on the learning process itself.

Learning requires structure and freedom at the same time; it needs a balance between challenge and support, between stability and creative confusion.  The right balance will be a matter of continuous fine-tuning, of dialogue between learners and facilitators and between managers and teachers.  Not all of the conditions mentioned may be exclusively affected directly by widyaiswara, but still it is important for them to realize in what context learning grow well so that they can take, within their reach, whatever measure to influence this context.

Roles and Competences of Widyaiswara

Widyaiswara has many and various roles when facilitating the teaching-learning process.  They may be trainers who deliver courses on particular subjects or themes, but more and more they are organising learning through more supportive activities as coaching and mentoring.  They may also facilitate the learning of participants by creating supportive learning environments, often with the help of new technologies.  Widyaiswara, as Facilitators should create virtual learning environments, data warehouses, educational monitors, ICT-based portfolio systems, chat rooms, web-logs, web quests, etc. Facilitators may also create learning environments by means of organizational activities such as appraisal interviews, meetings of professionals, peer communication, inter-collegial consultation, self-evaluation, reflection or policy meeting as a way to support learning among staff members.

More recently, Widyaiswara have come to use research activities that help participants to reflect upon their own practice and use their new insight and understandings to improve their practice. Widyaiswara have to be able to adopt a variety of different roles, each requiring a high level of knowledge and skills. The following roles are very important to consider:

a)      Catalysts, who make participants move, who bring about change, who inspire.

b)      Experts, knowledgeable and competent in acquiring/producing new knowledge.

c)      Problem solvers, who help participants identify and solve problems they are facing.

d)     Process helpers, who support participants in their learning processes.

e)      Developers, capable to develop learning environments, materials and tools (Van Lakerveld, 1993).

f)       Professional learners, role models in lifelong professional learning.

The many and different roles of the widyaiswara creates the challenge of how to cope with them, as well as knowing where, when and why a particular role is suitable.

Professional Competence Profile of Widyaiswara

Competence is a complex concept.  It is the capability to show a particular behavior in a particular context/setting that has a certain quality.  Second, it is important to be aware that competence is a holistic concept including knowledge, skills and attitudes (Koster, Brekelmans, Korthagen, & Wubbels, 2005).

I will describe the competences of Widyaiswara, as facilitators of in-service training as follows:

The work of the facilitators is a process of preparing, planning, developing, executing and evaluating in-service training that has various sequences, repetitions and patterns of growth. The competence profile presented in Fig. 1.1 consists of 13 competences described as behavior guidelines, their contextual settings and the ‘main qualities’ of the competences in the specific contexts.   The competences are in some way organized in a chronological list trying to reflect the working process of Widyaiswara.

Fig. 1.1

Professional Profile for In-service Training Facilitators

 

Behavioral Guidelines

Context

Quality

Marketing, contracting,communicate ideas With school leaders, teachers, administrators in a non-profitenvironment as well as in a profit

environment

Client-centered
Needs assessment, surveying expectations In situations in which actors may have varying or conflicting needs and interests; it is vital to identify who is the actual learner/client Need-oriented
Web/literature searches,identifying sources of information, problem conceptualization Within limited time, one needs to find one’s way in a vast field of sources Theory-based
Exploring, describing,categorizing, comparing,

explaining, valuing

Both while working, as well asafterwards in private, data and impressions have to be systemized and analyzed Analytical
Goal setting, formulating goals and targets Since teachers (individually andcollectively) are often not aware of their goals, they must be helped to identify that. The in-service training facilitators must elaborate and double-check goals Focused
Classifying goals, choosing appropriate learning activities andmodes of provision, choosing appropriate settings and formats In various situations in which manyconstraints may be met, as far as rooms, equipment, other priorities are concerned Professionallyyet practically

designed

Organising things in time,including issues such as the logistics, the setting, the atmosphere Embedded in school work and schedules and day-to-day school priorities or elsewhere where people will be more detached from that pressure SystematicallyPlanned
Knowing the limits of ones own expertise and being open to mutually fruitful cooperation withother experts In a context in which in-school trainers, external experts, researchers and consultants of other parties may be operating Cooperative
Presenting, listening, interacting, coaching, supervising, mentoring,training, role playing, advising, writing documents/articles In interactive, educative or learningsituations with individuals or groups

of learners

Communicative
Reacting to emerging issues and needs, listening and tuning In complex situations with individuals or groups of learners, sponsors, authorities, stakeholders or other parties involved Responsive
Making inventories of reactions, learning outcomes, changedprofessional behavior and organizational impact on the school and wider impact on the (students) community In settings with learners, sponsors,authorities, stakeholders or other parties affected, or involved Evaluative
Systematic thoughts anddiscussion about what the

experiences, beliefs and concepts tell about the in-service learning facilitator’s own competence, performance and learning process

Individually, with target groups, or among other in-service trainingfacilitators Self-reflective
Meta-evaluation concerning the course of events, the cooperation,the schools context, the systemic embedded ness as well as the future perspectives In a complex reality of a contextwith various actors, such as student,

teachers, school leaders, authorities,

funding agencies, researchers, scholars, inspectorate, parents, stakeholders, etc.

Systemic,development

focused, theory-based, value-oriented, pluralistic and

respectful

One of the most important and characteristic competence of widyaiswara is the capability to assess the needs and expectations of the participants. This competence is needed in several stages of the facilitation process.  It is important in the first stage of the process in which the situation is analyzed with the person who is considered the contractor, often a school administrator.  With him/her, the facilitator analyses the situation and decides upon the outline of the support needed.  Often this contractor is not part of the target group, the individual teachers or a team of teachers, and once confronted with the target group, the widyaiswara has to identify and specify the needs and expectations of this group.

If the goals and expectations of the teachers are similar to those of the contractor, there is no problem.  However, if the needs of the contractor differ from those of the teachers, the widyaiswara has to re-do the process of needs assessment, always being aware of conflicting interests and constantly asking whom he/she considers the client. A process of listening, clarifying and negotiating will follow with all parties concerned, but in the end it is crucial that the learners, the  teachers, set their own learning goals and define the objective and ‘the best’ way to learn.

It is important for a widyaiswara to be able to analyze how committed the participants are. If participants do not feel that activities of in-service learning may be useful to them, the learning process is seldom fruitful and the process may not only be difficult for the widyaiswara, but may even fail (Lendahl Rosendahl & R’onnerman, 2006).  In the process of analyzing the needs and expectations of the participants, it may be necessary to transform unclear needs and expectations into more realistic ones. If possible, the formulation of the goals and the design of the activities could be a joint activity of all participants and part of the activities of in-service learning.  In this process, it is important that participants visualize the change: the desired effect, the present position and the route forward to reach the desired position.  By doing so, it is possible to reduce insecurity of participants and create a comprehensive picture of the learning process, its outcomes and possible effects. The importance of this becomes obvious when it comes to collective in-service learning intended to establish collective learning and changes, for instance in team teaching or changes at an organizational level.

Another important reason to emphasize assessment of the needs of the participants and a genuinely listening attitude of widyaiswara is that employees support organizational changes that make sense to them

By engaging into a dialogue with the contractors and the teachers, the in-service learning gains legitimacy and support, and as a consequence resistance towards learning, innovation and change tends to be reduced.

Widyaiswara has to find the right balance between being a critical fiend, an assessor or even an authority. A peer-like approach, for instance, may lower the starting point and may enhance mutual understanding.

The traditional widyaiswaras have to change their behavior to become facilitators of learning, their roles shifted from training to coaching and mentoring. They have to become more concerned with their own professional development and standards, and professional codes of conduct will have to be developed or revised.  These codes will have to fit in new situations in which the level of differentiation and individualization and the level of self-regulation and self-directedness have increased.

This requires a new approach to ethical standards in in-service learning in which an agreement is reached on how to deal with issues such as:

  1. the process of learning
  2. the responsibility for professional development
  3. privacy
  4. fairness
  5. transparency
  6. prevention of intimidation violence and aggression
  7. equal opportunities
  8. prevention of sexual harassment/abuse
  9. the right to appeal
  10. respectful approach of diversity
  11. independent judgment

The professional code of conducting for in-service facilitators has to be developed specifically for professional group.  This does not mean that other codes of conducting as in use for organization developers, advisors, teachers and so on cannot serve as a source for its development (SULF, 2004).

An effective widyaiswaras as facilitators also state that they value a personal portfolio as an opportunity to document, analyze and evaluate their work.  Self-analysis allows them to think about dilemmas, which are connected to one’s own actions, attitudes and values as a facilitator. Training and experience may be important to become a successful widyaiswara, but they are not sufficient.  For widyaiswara to function properly, it is important that they serve as model learners.  This implies that their professional context and network are organized accordingly.

Widyaiswara must motivate each other and be motivated by others. They benefit from professional networks that serve as communities of practice in which peer consultation takes place, in which learning is a common goal and in which mutual inspiration and support are core elements. As stated before, professional learning also requires challenges, confrontation, criticism and debate. The struggle to survive in one’s own professional community also adds to the depth and meaning of the learning process (Fransson, 2006).

Summary and Conclusions

In education, change has become the rule and stability the exception. In this context, it is the task of widyaiswara facilitates learning among professional teachers and in professional learning contexts. The work of the widyaiswara is increasingly complex and he/she has developed a professional competence profile showing that the profession of widyaiswara is broad and diverse and requires a variety of competences. These competences will have to be developed through training, experience and active intentional professional learning of the individual facilitator and within professional networks.

On top of these requirements, there are additional contextual conditions to be fulfilled. Among those are learning conditions, organizational conditions and ethical conditions. All the described topics, actions, advices and recommendations imply that learning of widyaiswara will be lifelong learning. In-service facilitators are facing new challenges, and every change or problem may be an opportunity to learn or support their teaching.

Fulfilling these conditions for professional learning is a major challenge for the profession of teacher educators – and especially for those active as in-service training facilitators.  If we consider widyaiswara to be a relatively autonomous professional, this challenge will not be solved by imposing a kind of lifelong professional curriculum on them, but rather by supporting processes in which they make optimal use of their professional context as a learning environment.

References

Eurydice (2003). The teaching profession in Europe: Profile, trends and concerns. Report III. Working conditions and pay. Series: Key topics in education in Europe. Brussels: Eurydice.

Fransson, G. (2006). Att se varandra i handling. En j¨amf¨orande studie av kommunikativa arenor och yrkesblivande f¨or nyblivna f¨anrikar och l¨arare. (To See Each Other in Action: A Comparative Study of Communicative Conditions and the Process of Becoming for Commissioned Officers and Schoolteachers). Studies in Educational Sciences 79. Stockholm: The Stockholm Institute of Education.

Koster, B., Brekelmans, M., Korthagen, F., & Wubbels, Th. (2005). Quality requirements for teacher educators. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21(2), 157–176.

Lakerveld, J. van (1993). Training the trainer for school based in-service. Culemborg: Phaedon.

Lendahl Rosendahl, B., & R’onnerman, K. (2006). Facilitating school improvement: The problematic relationship between researchers and practitioners. Journal of In-service Education. 32(4), 497–509.

OECD (2005). Teachers matter. Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Education and training policy. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Sveriges universitetsl¨ararf¨orbund (SULF) (2004). Ethical Guidelines for University Teachers. Swedish Association of University Teachers. http://www.sulf.se/upload/Dokument/engelska/ Ethic%20univ%20teachers%20SULF.pdf (Accessed 2 October 2007).

Warries, E., & Pieters, J.M. (1992). Inleiding instructietheorie (Introduction to a theory of Instruction). Amsterdam/Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger.

About widayantoku

a teacher of English in East Java Indonesia
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