What is the KASA Framework?
The KASA is a framework for professional development that takes into account four areas suggested by Donald Freeman in his seminal 1989 article ‘Teacher training, development and decision making: a model of teaching and related strategies for language teacher education’. They are: Knowledge, Awareness, Skills and Attitude.
Even though Donald Freeman himself did not use the acronym KASA in his article, the term became widely known in the ELT community. The article also deals with the difference between training and development, as well as strategies to promote change in teacher performance.
Definition of Knowledge, Awareness, Skills and Attitude
According to Freeman (1989:31), Knowledge includes not only what we know about the subject matter (the English language), but also knowledge of learners’ background, language level and also contextual aspects such as information about the local and institutional culture.
Awareness refers to whether or not we are able to perceive the impact and effectiveness of our actions, our response to learners, as well as students’ previous knowledge.
Skills, on the other hand, refer to actions that the teacher is able to carry out, such as managing classroom interaction, delivering clear instructions, mantaining appropriate TTT, implementing tasks and activities etc. Teaching skills are thus the know-how.
Finally, in Freeman’s conception, Attitude is the way teachers think about their own profession, their learners and the learning process. Therefore, it comprises aspects such as behaviour, perceptions and feelings.
I’ve compiled elements in the four dimensions that I personally consider relevant for teachers below. Clearly, this not an exhaustive list. It could easily be much longer and may vary tremendously according to the learning context, local demands and expectations towards the teacher’s performance, so it is up to you to assess whether the points hereafter are relevant to your reality.
Language skills and sub-skills: what makes someone good at speaking, reading, listening and writing
Theories of Second Language Acquisition (SLA)
Methods and approaches
Learners’ needs, goals and sociocultural context
Resources that can assist learning (course books, digital tools, apps, Padlet etc.)
Institutional policies and the learning context
One’s own strengths and areas for improvement
Personal beliefs in terms of language and teaching
Underlying reasons for your planning and teaching decisions
Balance between Teacher Talking Time (TTT) and Student Talking Time (STT)
Learners’ previous knowledge and skills
Learners’ response to classroom actions
Learners’ relationships with each other
Culture of the organisation where you work
Establishing rapport with and among learners
Grouping learners and using appropriate interaction patterns
Setting up activities and tasks effectively
Delivering clear instructions and checking them
Clarifying aspects of meaning, pronunciation and form of language items
Checking understanding of meaning (e.g. by using CCQs)
Providing feedback on tasks and activities
Providing feedback on language and error correction
Critical thinking and problem solving
Self-direction and self-motivation
Proactivity and initiative
Eagerness to learn
Adaptability and flexibility
Being open to new ideas and change
Being a good listener
Willingness to share
Demonstrating genuine interest in learners
Why use the KASA framework?
The KASA framework can be useful for teachers, leaders, coordinators and teacher educators because:
It can provide a starting point for reflection on CPD needs;
It may help teachers identify and systematise their own strengths and areas for development;
It might be used to inform decisions as to what area to favour in CPD initiatives;
It can be revisited from time to time in order to assess whether development aims have been achieved.
How can you use the KASA framework?
One way of using the KASA Framework to become better aware of your professional strengths and developmental needs is to use a table to organise information about yourself and follow the recommendations below.
Click on the image below to download the editable file.
Here you’ll find a printable version of the table.
1) Look at the list of elements related to the different letters of the KASA above and write the information down into the appropriate field (Strengths or Areas to improve);
2) Don’t rely solely on impressions. Try to justify your strengths with concrete examples;
3) From the areas to improve, select the ones you believe should be prioritised. An interesting way of doing that is using an Eisenhower matrix (see image below), reflecting upon whether the development of which areas is both important and urgent;
Click on the image below to download the editable file.
4) Investigate the CDP options that will cater for your developmental needs, e.g. a short course (e.g. CELTA, ICELT), a longer academic endeavour, keeping a journal or a log/record of classroom events etc. (see references below for suggested reading);
5) Revisit your KASA after some time and check whether the aims you’ve set have been accomplished. Also, analyse it critically and see what else has changed.
When assisting teachers (i.e. in the role of a peer, mentor or supervisor):
1) Ask the teacher to fill in a KASA Framework table on their own. You can suggest the use of the aspects outlined in the list above;
2) Allow the teacher to justify their choices and considerations as to whether each aspect is a strength or an area to improve. Ask follow-up question and example-based evidence to illustrate them;
3) Share your perceptions, also backing up your claims with examples of behaviours and actions. Feedback can have amazing results, especially in the development of Awareness;
4) Help the teacher formulate a concrete plan of action to tackle the areas for improvement;
5) Revisit the KASA Framework table after some time in order to assess the teacher’s development.
Freeman, D. (1989) Teacher training, development and decision making: a model of teaching and related strategies for language teacher education. TESOL Quearterly vol 23, No 1.
Richards, J.C & Pharrell, T.S.C. (2005) Professional development for language teachers. Cambridge University Press.
Rubens Heredia is an Academic Coordinator, CELTA and ICELT tutor at Cultura Inglesa São Paulo and one of the co-founders of What is ELT?