For Better Classroom Teaching, Invest in Educator Training

With the budget for teacher training further reduced this year, there are concerns over school education priorities and the inadequate response to the urgent need to build teacher capacity. The past two years have reiterated that teachers are at the forefront of the learning experience. Their role in determining what and how students learn cannot be overstated.

Student learning is the result of multiple stakeholder-driven processes, with the most direct form of interaction taking place through its classrooms. This is why the professional development of teachers must be at the center of the priority grid. Counterintuitively, in most cases, it sits on the periphery of the processes and practices of the school education ecosystem.

Initial teacher education courses expose teachers to globally successful pedagogies and classroom theories. The test, however, is the ability to apply them in real classrooms. It’s not that teachers don’t understand the difference between didactic and interactive teaching methods. These are teachers who choose to practice the former because it has been used throughout the ages while the latter seems difficult to implement. This is where in-service teacher training plays a role in bridging the gap between what teachers learn and how they teach.

In Indian public education, there are five key challenges in in-service teacher training: First, there is little or no emphasis on the facilitation skills of trainers. The result is that the trainer may have a good understanding of the material, but is not equipped to transfer this knowledge to the teacher-participants. Additionally, subject knowledge is not the area where most teachers face the highest level of challenges. General and subject-specific teaching practices, translating the vision of the curriculum into student learning, and the design and implementation of assessments are areas where teachers need more support.

Second, the way a teacher training session is conducted – instructive with negligible input from participants; examples that are often disconnected from the real classroom environment with examples from a decade or two ago – is not conducive.

Third, there is a disproportionate emphasis on subject-specific training. Notwithstanding the importance of building subject knowledge, it is essential to recognize that subject teachers cannot operate in silos. It is prudent for teacher education programs to visualize the scope of interdisciplinary knowledge exchange. Fourth, little or no emphasis is placed on building teacher capacity in areas other than subject matter. Structuring a class, managing time between tasks and absences, integrating social-emotional learning, engaging with parents, families and the community are some of their impactful responsibilities. substantial on students. Additionally, recent years have seen the role that technology has played in teaching and learning. Even as we reopen schools, a blended learning approach is here to stay. Properly equipping and supporting teachers to take advantage of technology is the need of the hour.

Five – and arguably the most critical – is the impact of the training on classroom practice once teachers return. There is a tendency to pick up where they left off. This can be attributed to two factors – a lack of understanding of how to implement what they learned during the training in their classroom area, or a lack of incentive to do so.

While the former can be addressed in the way teacher training sessions are designed and conducted, the latter highlights the need for a strong monitoring and evaluation mechanism. Monitoring teachers once they return to their classrooms is crucial. This will serve not only to motivate teachers to translate what they learned in the training, but also to enrich future training sessions with information from the classroom.

Increased spending on teacher capacity building, while necessary, will not be enough. It’s time to review and reinvent the way teachers learn. This will be an important determinant of how students learn.

Neena Jha is a former teacher and teacher trainer. She is currently an Advisor, Education and Skills Practice, KPMG in India. Opinions expressed are personal

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