It’s time for teachers to invest in personal and professional growth…

Teacher training is the backbone of teacher skill set for any country. Most of the countries that excel in providing quality school education, have rigorous pre-service and in-service teacher education programs that are quality assured by regulatory bodies in these countries.

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Indian School Education System is prodigious in all respects. The diversity in types of curricula, geographical location and student cognition makes it quite challenging when it comes to prepare teachers for such a system. Rishabh Khanna, Founder, Suraasa shares his views on the teacher education system in India.

TPT: Share your views on the current teacher education system in India?

Rishabh: Indian School Education System is prodigious in all respects. The diversity in types of curricula, geographical location and student cognition makes it quite challenging when it comes to prepare teachers for such a system. The entire requirement of building teachers for this system that caters to over 260 million (26 crore) students is currently reliant on India’s pre-service education (offered in academic institutes like colleges and universities) or in-service education offered by non-regulated training institutes. Most of the colleges and universities, with very few exceptions, offer an outdated B.Ed. curriculum that has proven incapable of preparing teachers for 21st century learners. But, still around 2 Million people annually subscribe to this curriculum via the B.Ed. colleges and successfully receive their teaching degrees. Most of these teachers are vocal about the helplessness on not being able to use what they learnt in the course and hence are dependent on in-service teacher education. Since, in-service teacher education is not regulated there is no set consistency on learning outcomes and hence is non-reliant for such scale.

On an average a teacher must spend at least 10 hours per month on formal training. This leads to a cumulative value of 120 hours per annum, which matches international requirements.

TPT: How important is teachers training and how are schools poised for the same?

Rishabh: Teacher training is the backbone of teacher skill set for any country. Most of the countries that excel in providing quality school education, have rigorous pre-service and in-service teacher education programs that are quality assured by regulatory bodies in these countries. Any outstanding school usually requires a teacher to spend at least 100-150 hours per annum in formal teacher training. In India, schools conduct most of its teacher training either internally (peer learning) or via guest lecturers. These guest lectures are mostly in form of capsules that are 2 to 4 hours in duration and mostly are either focused on curriculum or tool based training. The average time that a teacher spends annually in formal classroom training ranges from 2 hours to 20 hours.

TPT: What kind of training is required for teachers in the current scenario?

Rishabh: It’s in the most challenging times that one realises the reality. The pandemic forced school education system to upgrade to technology based system and technology always brings transparency. The current situation bought out in open, some interesting facets of teacher skill set. There are teachers who were good at student engagement in physical classrooms and they are surprisingly good at technology in education, and there are teachers who were already struggling in physical classrooms and they find technology based teaching to be difficult and unsuccessful. When we looked closely we realised that teachers who excelled at tech based teaching had much better pedagogical skills vis-à-vis teachers who didn’t do very well at tech based teaching. I strongly believe that ‘how to teach’ is a much bigger need than ‘how to become tech-enabled’. As once we figure out the how to of teaching the enablers will automatically fall in place.

Teacher training is the backbone of teacher skill set for any country. Most of the countries that excel in providing quality school education, have rigorous pre-service and in-service teacher education programs that are quality assured by regulatory bodies in these countries.

TPT: How are our teachers placed vis-a-vis their foreign counterparts? Why?

Rishabh: Let’s compare it in two parts:

  1. Indian teachers teaching in schools in India and Indian teachers teaching in schools abroad: The major difference in skill set comes because of the difference in in-service training that the teachers receive. A teacher teaching for five years in Dubai would have a much developed pedagogical skill set in comparison to a teacher teaching in a school in India. In fact for a new Indian teacher abroad, the difference becomes visible just within a year, however the continuous structured training abroad leads to an increased skill gap over the years.
  2. Indian teachers teaching in schools abroad and foreign teachers teaching in schools abroad: The difference in pre-service qualification brings a huge difference to the initial skill set of both the teachers. Though they both receive similar in-service training once they join a school, the initial skill lag makes it a bit more challenging for Indian teachers in adapting to changing education systems.

TPT: What is the importance of e-learning platforms for teachers to up-skill their teaching abilities?

Rishabh: One thing that all educators need to always remember is that every platform whether physical or online is always just an enabler. It majorly depends on self to be able to get the desired outcomes from the platform that we choose. E-learning platforms today come with a variety of courses and pedagogical skill training. These platforms have made teacher education accessible and time efficient. The only decision left for a teacher is to know where to start from and this needs to be taken by the individual. One can learn how to use software’s, how to use tools and even how to teach.

TPT: What other skills are required to upskill them?

Rishabh: The most important skill that a teacher today must possess is the ability of self-reflection and learning need identification. Once we are clear about these, it’s just about finding the right mentor and guide (teacher educator) who has the experience and skill set to train highly effective teachers. There’s no looking back after that.

The world recognises the need of skilled teachers and realised the value of an effective teacher. The future for pedagogically sound teachers is pretty bright and hence now is the time for teachers to invest in personal and professional growth as it would lead to better teaching opportunities globally which in turn would come with high return on investments.

TPT: How frequently should the teachers be trained and why?

Rishabh: On an average a teacher must spend at least 10 hours per month on formal training. This leads to a cumulative value of 120 hours per annum, which matches international requirements. A teacher investing this amount of time and energy for formal training will always be prepared with latest tech and pedagogical tools and usually would grow financially and professionally much faster than the peers who don’t.

TPT: Anything else you would like to share..

Rishabh: As I said before, technology makes things transparent. The current situation poses risks yet brings ample opportunities for qualified and skilled teachers. The world recognises the need of skilled teachers and realised the value of an effective teacher. The future for pedagogically sound teachers is pretty bright and hence now is the time for teachers to invest in personal and professional growth as it would lead to better teaching opportunities globally which in turn would come with high return on investments.

Rishabh Khanna is the Founder of Suraasa, a teacher training and accreditation platform. He belongs to Karnal, Haryana, a city widely regarded as an education hub. Rishabh has earned a degree in mechanical engineering from a leading college in New Delhi. After graduating from college in 2008, Rishabh joined Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL) one of the largest and most prestigious IT companies in India. In 2010, Rishabh founded Les Transformations, an education company, and began delivering programs to students and education providers.

In 2017, Rishabh created Suraasa, a platform that trains aspiring educators and teachers who are in service. Suraasa teaches educators skills that prepare them for teaching. In 2018 Rishabh took Suraasa to Dubai, and the same year, launched the platform in the Emirate. In 2019, Suraasa launched its teaching qualification PGCTL in Dubai and the UK. PGCTL is mapped to international teaching standards. Today Rishabh leads Suraasa’s research and development team, content team, and growth and expansion team.