Need for two-teacher classrooms

Meeta Mohanty

Much more is expected of teachers in the wake of the assessment reforms introduced by the CBSE. The need of the hour is an awakened, informed, and efficient teacher who not only helps each child realize his/her best, but also has to be dexterous in documenting assessments. The CCE system has tremendously increased the ownership of the teachers by making assessments school-based. It is important to investigate the conditions of schools where such change is envisioned for better teaching and learning.

Most schools in our country have to deal with large classes, which pose a real challenge in making learning child-centered. Activities, projects, surveys, field excursions – an important component of teaching and learning process are reduced to fixed routines, where a teacher’s role is about controlling behaviour, ensuring safety and material management rather than being a facilitator of learning. The argument advanced here is not in support of teachers who do a mere lip service to the profession by considering it an easy option and half-day job. However, the argument here is in understanding the conditions of classrooms that limit a creative and passionate teacher. How is it possible to do detailed documentation of class discussion, probe into a child’s feelings and thought process given a TPR of 1:50 and in some cases even sixty or eighty? This is not an unusual figure as one would agree and can find such schools in every city of our country.

humans With such huge TPR, activities, discussions, and now CCE records become a mammoth task. Is it possible for teachers to do anecdotal recording of learning with such huge numbers? Does this mean that one should not expect any change in classrooms and abandon any progressive idea? Certainly, this is not the solution.

Some systemic changes need to be adopted to facilitate teaching and learning. One solution is to have two-teacher classrooms. This concept is not new and has been practiced in several progressive schools of our country. Some of the advantages of two-teacher classrooms are listed below:

  • This helps in effective teaching and learning as the class benefits from the expertise of two teachers. Each teacher has his/her way of thinking and teaching, thus the class gets the advantage of the duo that thinks and plans lessons together.
  • Two-teacher classrooms also help in personalizing attention to students who are now under the guidance of two facilitators with whom they relate.
  • It helps in easy adoption of various tools and techniques of assessment like maintaining portfolios, recording anecdotes, use of checklist, rubrics while teaching. As one teacher teaches, the co-teacher can engage in recording the flow of the class by documenting these various aspects and taking detailed notes.
  • Two-teacher classrooms solve the problem that might arise because of teacher absenteeism occasionally. However, this should not become a routine.

Some important considerations while implementing this scheme is that two-teacher classrooms does not mean that each teacher is responsible for half the total number of pupils. Nor does this imply that while one teacher teaches, the other is busy with maintenance of attendance records, notebook correction or preparing wall displays. The concept of two teachers comes with greater responsibility to upgrade the quality of instruction in classrooms. When the school management invests in a two-teacher proposition, it also needs to set a system of streamlining the role of both teachers in the classrooms. A school leader needs to be very selective while pairing teachers. Some measures are suggested below:

  • Assessment of strengths, weaknesses and interests of the teachers is essential. Example: A language teacher can ideally be paired with a mathematics teacher. Thus, the duo can be involved in teaching on a rotational basis and can play the observer role too. This situation is a symbiotic one, as the class benefits from the expertise of both teachers. The duo too gets an opportunity to learn about each other’s subject area, understand a child’s cognition, and disposition across subject areas.
  • Styles of teaching need to underpin the selection process. For example, a teacher who integrates a lot of nature walks, field experiences can be paired with someone who is dexterous in indoor activities with students.
  • Prior teaching experience is vital. During selection, it is crucial that teachers that are paired have a mixed teaching experience. For example, while selecting co-teachers for grade two, it would be of help to pair one existing grade two teacher and another grade one teacher. This shall help the duo in understanding what the class-cohort has accomplished in grade one and will be effective while lesson planning.

CCE reform is a great stride toward changing the educational scenario. However, for effective implementation of the scheme it is important that reduced class size needs to be equivocally emphasized and needs to be legally binding on schools. A two-teacher classroom proposition can be evaluated and implemented in schools, at least to begin with in primary school. This will definitely help in combating issues associated with quality education.

The author works with Oxford University Press, India and is currently involved with teacher trainings. She can be reached at meetaprabir@gmail.com.