The school is a community of learners, and no one is entitled or obligated to learn more continuously, reflectively and joyfully than teachers themselves.
– Lee Shulman
It is both an exciting and challenging time to be a teacher. In retrospect, the last two academic sessions have shown a deep learning curve for educators worldwide. But it has also exposed the chasms created by the incessant disruption of the ‘normal’ teaching-learning cycle which continues to be too wide to bridge. The pandemic had cast the spotlight on teachers by bringing the teaching-learning process out of the close confines of the classroom into the public domain with the onset of virtual classes. This coincided with the release of the New National Educational Policy 2020 and highlighted the centrality of the teacher in building the human capital; this was a validation and recognition of the role of teachers like never before at a policy level.
The educational reforms mooted in the NEP call for a very serious and sincere commitment towards professional development of teachers. There is an urgent need to shift the focus in our classrooms from mere teaching to actual learning which is measurable and demonstrable.
Many initiatives from CBSE indicate that it is seriously considering implementing the suggestions emphasized in the NEP with regard to upskilling of teachers to meet the expected standards in transacting the curriculum in ways that would equip students with the required competencies in future workplaces. This calls for a reorientation in our approach to the teaching-learning process in our classrooms and a sustained effort to go beyond what is now being done. This means teachers have to become reflective practitioners, constantly evaluating their teaching methods and tools and upgrade themselves to deliver instruction that aims at equipping students with higher order thinking skills.
A robust In-service Teacher Training programme needs to be designed and implemented by schools for professional development of its teachers to start showing results in terms of enhancing teaching competencies and better the learning outcomes in students.
A two-pronged approach for schools affiliated with CBSE towards this objective is outlined below:
- Structured training modules/workshops from CBSE and other external agencies
The various teacher training modules released and regularly uploaded by CBSE’s training wing under the DIKSHA & NISTHA portals and virtual workshops from the different Centres of Excellence (COE) and other external training agencies are all good starting points of reference for teacher training that cater to the needs of futuristic classrooms employing best practices in the educational field. These programmes have their merits and are here to stay. This has been made mandatory and accounted for in the affiliation process and needs to be an integral part of Professional Development Programme for teachers. The knowledge and insights gained from these training programmes need to be applied in lesson planning and curriculum transaction. Documentation of the effectiveness of new pedagogical tools and techniques will ensure that the learning visualized in these training programmes do take place.
- In- house teacher training programme
The In-house programme would aim at enhancing teaching competencies of all teachers through year-long in-service training. This programme would focus and explore the following components as part of instructional design for teacher training:
The basic premise for including the pedagogy session in the weekly training programme is for all teachers to be open to new ideas/innovative methods and alternate strategies being used by educators worldwide and consider the possibility of experimenting with the ideas in their classrooms and in the process create meaningful learning experiences for the students.
b) Action research
Action research is to be seen as a framework for identifying problem areas/challenges teachers encounter while teaching and look for models of intervention in the form of teaching strategies/tools and approaches that can be adopted to address such challenges and then document the effect/outcome of the intervention in terms of achieving the desired results.
This framework helps to look at what went well and what didn’t in terms of teaching strategies that helped translate learning objectives into learning outcomes, challenges that impeded the effective transaction of the curriculum and also areas within the teaching-learning cycle that needs a relook and rethinking in terms of what can be done to help our children learn better and more effectively.
Thus, action research provides teachers with the opportunity to analyze their practice and look for solutions to problems they identify. And in doing so they can improve their teaching practice and pursue their professional development in the true sense of the word.
c) Subject committee meetings
Teams of teachers belonging to different disciplines led by the subject heads should facilitate the following:
Reflect on classroom experiences, planning lessons, designing teaching aids, documenting successful classroom activities/strategies, chalking out remedial measures and review the progressive steps of a teaching-learning cycle which consists of lesson planning, transaction of lesson, assessment of and for learning through formative assessment techniques and remediation.
d) Peer learning
Teachers learn best from each other. A system of informal peer observation can be put in place whereby teachers seek out avenues of learning from their colleagues within the department by walking into each other’s classroom with prior mutual arrangement whenever any new teaching strategy/tool is experimented with. It has the potency to build a culture of growth and learning on the one hand and foster better team dynamics on the other. The concept of pineapple chart (https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/pineapple-charts/) is worth exploring in the context of professional development of teachers.
e) Reflective practices
There is no better judge of what works and what doesn’t in a classroom than the teacher himself/herself. It is imperative that teachers become reflective practitioners, constantly evaluating their teaching methods and tools and upgrading themselves to deliver instruction that aims at equipping students with the right skill sets and competencies required to master the different learning domains.
It is necessary that teachers constantly engage in self-audit, use peer observation and the resultant feedback to enhance teaching, document their best practices for others to learn from and regularly evaluate the effectiveness of their own teaching practices. Teachers who are able to witness their own learning trajectory in terms of better learning outcomes in students and an overall positive experience reflected in classroom realities will be motivated to strive for teaching excellence.
For teachers to accrue the benefits of a training programme, it is very important that they condition their mind to unlearn preconceived notions and ideas that are obsolete and redundant in today’s education scenario and re-learn the tricks of the trade that will keep their teaching relevant and meaningful so that the students are not just engaged but demonstrate actual learning.
The author teaches English and Life Skills to students of senior and senior secondary classes at Delhi Public School, Coimbatore. She also designs, coordinates and oversees the in-service teachers’ training programme at Delhi Public Schools – Patna, Pune, Ludhiana and Coimbatore under the aegis of Takshila Educational Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.