Towards an Effective Professional Development Model to Deepen History Teachers’ Understanding of Historical Concepts, pp. 4 of 16

PD for History Teachers: The History Master Class

Teacher professional development (PD) in Singapore is provided by three main providers: the National Institute of Education (NIE), the Academy of Singapore Teachers (AST) and six Centres of Excellence and schools (Bautista, Wong & Gopinathan, 2015). In the context of developing a sound PD structure that can help equip teachers with the necessary knowledge and skills to conduct lessons that foster historical thinking, the two History Master Teachers at the AST)\, Mr. Andrew Anthony and Mr. Lloyd Yeo, collaborated with Dr. Suhaimi Afandi, a History lecturer from NIE, to design and conduct a Master Class workshop for Senior Teachers (STs) and Lead Teachers (LTs) of History. As the STs and LTs were already familiar with historical concepts and ways to teach them[ii], the aim of the Master Class was to build deeper understandings of two key historical concepts, namely, Causation and Accounts, and to subsequently develop instructional strategies to teach these concepts to students. 

The design for the Master Class drew reference from research on effective PD.  Some of the general key characteristics of effective PD (Fishman, 2014) are as follows:

  • Extended duration rather than a single seminar or “one-shot” workshop
  • Emphasis on content knowledge with a focus on student learning
  • Coherence with respect to standards, expectations, or other initiatives teachers are experiencing
  • Space for teachers to examine and reflect on their own practice
  • Opportunities for teacher collaboration and social support systems
  • Close coupling to anticipated or desired classroom practice so that teachers are able to easily interpret and translate PD messages to their own classrooms.

In addition to the characteristics highlighted above (which are generic to the design of PD workshops for any subject or field of study), the Master Class PD design for the history STs and LTs also took into consideration the focus on developing the multidimensionality of history teachers’
knowledge bases.

Related Teaching Materials

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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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