Volume 18 (2011)
Professional Education Development in the Context of Tobago: Teachers' Concerns with Change
Teacher professional development has been one of the main avenues through which Caribbean nation states have sought to reform and modernize their education systems. Serveral models have been adopted over the past four decades in response to the varying development trajectories and resources of the individual nation states, with varying degrees of success. This study reports on a teacher professional development innovation project in Tobago, one of the two islands making up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, from the prespective of a small group of secondary school teachers who participated in the project. Data about the teachers' concerns with the innovation were collected using a Stages of Concerns Questionnaire, and the data were analysed using the ConcernsÂ Based Adoption Model framework. The study found that the teachers who participated had low-level Personal Stage 2Â concerns with the innovation, that is, they were typical nonusers of the innovation. This suggests that the majority of the teachers who participated in the professional development innovation would not use what they had learned in their classrooms once the period of training had been completed. This has implications for school improvement reforms since the assumption of most of these reforms is that teachers will embrace the new competencies and utilize them to improve the teaching and learning processes in their classrooms. The recommendation is that every effort should be made to mitigate against teachers' personal concerns, or at least to minimize them, to ensure that in-service secondary school teachers approach these professional development innovations more objectively, and by so doing increase the likelihood of them embracing these innovations in the ways that were intended.
Keywords: Secondary School Teachers; Teacher Attitudes; Educational Innovations; Professional Development; Tobago; Trinidad and Tobago