Analyzing the impact of social network on teacher development

Introduction

For school performance to be sustained, teacher development is necessary. Many factors contribute to effectiveness in the process of teacher development. According to Gu & Johansson (2013), one of these factors is social network. Gu & Johansson (2013) point out that social context matters in influencing the social networks that teachers enter into during the process of professional development. The networks greatly influence the leadership skills that teachers will acquire during their careers.

When success is achieved in terms of teacher development, this may be reflected in overall school improvement. The ability by teachers to maintain resilience in the context of dynamism in relationships within specific networks is critical to overall improvement in school performance over time. One of the main benefits of a good social network in school contexts is that it can mould a teacher into a better leader. The aim of this paper is to discuss the impact of social network on teacher development. The conceptual framework relied upon in this paper emphasizes on how social network creates an ideal environment for teacher development especially with regard to the teachers’ leadership abilities. The thesis of this paper is that social network enables teachers to become more resilient throughout the teacher development process, thereby affording them numerous opportunities to build on their leadership abilities with a view to contribute to improvement in school performance.

Challenges of teacher development in the contemporary school setting

In the contemporary school environment, the process of teacher development is fraught with numerous challenges. Today, the way teachers work and live continues to be subjected to variations, hence the need for resilience, diligence, and determination. The uncertainties in the environment in which teachers operate may easily create problems for efforts towards teacher development. The goal of development is said to have been achieved when teachers are able to sustain all their educational purposes as well as manage all the unavoidable instabilities and uncertainties that come with the practice of the teaching profession.

As teachers seek to develop their abilities, they are faced with personal, organizational, and relational challenges. These challenges are also evident in the professional development programs into which the teachers enrol. They also tend to occur in school leadership, thereby impacting on the extent to which teachers are retained in the profession. To sail through each stage of the teacher’s professional life, social network plays a critical role. Such a network enables the teacher enjoy working with colleagues as well as pupils. It enhances their sense of emotional commitment and intrinsic motivation to give the best service to learners in terms of both educational needs and overall wellbeing.

The task of maintaining emotional and intellectual commitment to a profession is a challenging one. In the case of the teaching profession, the challenge is even greater because the teacher must always be willing to learn new things in the course of his day-to-day work. He must also cultivate an inner desire to help pupils learn, guide their emotions and their feelings, as well as promote relationships with and among them.  Therefore, the teacher must constantly navigate an inner terrain of intrinsic motivation and always maintain a sense of purpose in every task relating to the teaching activity. This is one of the reasons why the teaching profession is sometimes viewed not just as a profession but also a “calling”.

The teacher must be keen to develop himself both intellectually and morally. This calls for a lot of enthusiasm and commitment. Moreover, the love for children and the desire to see them grow physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually must also exist within the inner being of the teacher. Such a professional passion may not thrive if the teacher has problems maintaining work-life balance. The vocational drive may also be influenced negatively by complexities in the profession, problems with the school administration, and leadership challenges.

The role of social networks in dealing with the challenges of the teaching profession            

Today, many teachers look up to team spirit and peer support to enable them to continue developing professionally. They share insights on good practice, positive professional outlook, and ways of dealing with work-related pressure as well as work-life tension. Gu & Day (2013) observe that for teachers who maintain strong networks, personal circumstances do not emerge as a destabilizing factor in their profession.

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