Strategies To Foster Educators’ Professional Growth
An established fact that the learning outcomes of students are significantly better when teachers are trained
An educational institution is as much a place of learning for the teachers as it is for the students. The last few years, especially, have forced us to re-think teaching design, its methodologies, and with it, the need to support the continued professional development of the teachers. With evolving technologies, work ecosystems, economies and communities, what we want our children to learn and how we teach it, has seen tremendous transformation. Supporting our teachers to keep re-inventing themselves with this change and better their pedagogies is, therefore, extremely critical.
It is already an established fact that the learning outcomes of students are significantly better when teachers are trained. A research study in the US showed that student achievement can improve by as much as 21 percentile points if teachers participate in a well-designed professional development program. Moreover, a well-designed professional development program provides an opportunity for teachers to enhance in-depth thematic know-how, devise better strategies for student-centric learning, aim for leadership positions, while promoting a motivated, future-forward professional mindset.
There are strategies that schools and educational institutions across private and public domains must standardise and adopt to foster this professional development of educators, helping them innovate and stay relevant to the times.
Differentiated activations for educators
Just as we focus on personalised learning for students, it stands true for training of teachers as well. Along with macro engagements which emphasise on overall and generic training, there must be macro modules which are more specific to the skills of the individual teacher. This will be key to improving teacher’s professional development, helping them achieve their set goals and further impacting the learning outcomes of students. It is also imperative that we integrate mixed environments and leaning experiences for teachers in the form of workshops on subject matters, conferences, teacher forums and individual research.
Tech in education is now a necessity rather than an added opportunity. Teachers must realise that tech know-how can significantly enhance their ability to help their students learn and grow in a digital era. Supporting teachers to understand new-age tech and also how they can be used to positively impact learning remains critical. In fact, data-driven programs can be utilized to help teachers understand the strengths and weaknesses of individual students and create personalised teaching strategies. Digital literacy modules for teachers that nudge innovation and creativity must be integral to all schools.
Engaging with peers remains one of the best ways for teachers to assess their progress, learn, un-learn and implement best practices in their own classrooms. Inter-school teacher network forums, teacher conferences, interactive platforms for knowledge exchange provide an ecosystem for educators to discuss, deliberate in a reflective environment. It allows them to understand varied perspectives and model best practices which have shown to improve learning outcomes and can be adopted by all.
Access to centralised Resource Bank
A centralized resource library that can be accessed by educators and teachers to look for specific training materials is important. Programs such as NISHTHA launched by the Department of School Education and literacy provide training modules , web tutorials, course materials and training reports online for access of teachers. Similar portals can be adopted by individual schools with generic materials such as on tech, IT, communications or specific to subject matters and thematic areas, which teachers can access
Opportunities for reflection and evaluation
Probably the most important aspect of teacher training and professional development is reflection, evaluation and feedback. Firstly, educators must continually cultivate the ability to self-evaluate. It is imperative to critically analyse classroom events and ask Whys. Further, within professional development training, evaluation and review processes are important to understand progress and areas of improvement for teachers and a standardised assessment process must be devised and followed. These must be balanced for thematic and subject knowledge to generic competencies that an educator must possess and improve upon. Objectively curated professional development activities also provide teachers with a sense of agency and control which nudges motivation.
Student feedback is also critical to gather for teachers and can be instrumental in assessing teaching strategies. This can be done in the form of formative and summative assessments where students can share their feedback for teachers to assess and reflect on.
Lastly, a conducive policy framework to support pre-service and during-service professional development is essential. There must be more investments and budget allocations to teacher training to maintain a standardised quality of teaching across private and public schools. A well-trained teacher will also be better able to understand the distinctive requirements of students across strata and devise teaching approaches accordingly.
This will only ensure a forward-looking and inclusive education ecosystem where teachers are evolving with the times to help students learn better and be better equipped to deal with the challenges of the future.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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