The Field Immersion Program, Program Pengalaman Lapangan (PPL), plays an important role for undergraduates who are training to be teachers. The PPL offers the students their first opportunities of exposure to the dynamic world of teaching before they are become responsible for their own classes.
PPL instructs student teachers how to master the four core competencies of a professional teacher. The first competency is pedagogical competency, the teacher's comprehension of the principles of the science of teaching combined with knowledge of the capabilities and backgrounds of their pupils. The second competency is personality competency, the teacher's ability to be a role model for pupils. The third is professional competency, the teacher's use of the most effective techniques in education to engage pupils in and out of the classroom. The fourth competency is social competency, the teacher's talent for identifying aspects in the local environment that increase the effectives of instruction in the classroom1.
PPL is designed as a cumulative subject for undergraduates in the teacher education program. PPL is organized to increase trainee awareness of the essential components of classroom activities, and to encourage the trainees to prove that they are capable of implementing their coursework and personal skills as creative teachers. Trainees receive guidance on how to determine which options are most effective when they face challenging situations in the classroom, and on how to balance the multiple roles of the modern teacher as instructor, creator, administrator, counselor, and role model.
PPL develops the ability of the student teachers to design relevant lesson plans and to execute them so that pupils are offered the maximum opportunities to practice and to express themselves in a positive environment. Trainees learn the techniques of effective peer observation and reflection on the learning process, and how to articulate themselves in reports2.
Although the PPL offers numerous advantages as a guide for student teachers, implementing it effectively can pose a major challenge in the practicum of teacher-training. One of the primary challenges is in the lack of effective supervision of the student teachers by the Senior Lecturers. Not all of the Senior Lecturers who are assigned to provide one-on-one supervision of each student teacher have the time, the competence, or even the interest to provide the guidance needed to provide the student teachers as role models or advisors, or as sources of reliable feedback of trainee practice-time in the classroom.
As strong, competent leadership from the supervising Senior Lecturers is a basic tenet of PPL, training of the supervising Senior Lecturers is required before they are entrusted with the instruction of student teachers. Lembaga Pendidikan dan Tenaga Kependidikan (LPTK) USAID Prioritas Banten is one of the institutions that conducts such training for teacher-trainers of SD/MI and SMP/MTs (Elementary Schools and Junior high schools)3. The training provides the supervising teachers and lecturers with the understanding of their role in leading the student teacher in the PPL towards the desired pedagogical, personality, professional and social competencies.
PPL training is aimed to help the student teachers maximize their potential. The students receive instruction on how to seriously learn and prepare themselves to face their careers as classroom teachers. The purpose of PPL is clear. When the competencies of teachers increase, their pupils, at the same time, will have the qualified instructors who understand the processes and techniques of learning that lead to academic achievement.