A lot has been said and written about student readiness in terms of prepping them up for learning, motivating them, incentivizing learning, creating a conducive environment to facilitate learning and so on. But very often the most crucial element, an undeniable prerequisite and an uncontentious factor namely teacher readiness gets overlooked in our discourses on approaches to maximize learning outcomes of our students.
Has anyone stopped to wonder how student learning could happen without teacher readiness? A holistic approach to education does not exclude the educators themselves. This concept does not apply only to the students because the school is a learning community comprising students, teachers, administrators and management too. The process involved in facilitating learning of students provides insightful learning experiences for all the stakeholders, albeit of a different nature.
Any meaningful educational endeavour is incomplete without factoring the competency of the teachers and their teaching readiness. The following indices when combined together give a composite picture of what I mean by teacher readiness:
- An uncluttered mind, ready to engage with the learning material in new ways.
- Openness to embrace multiple perspectives hitherto not possible because of rigidity and complacency that sets in because of mental conditioning over years.
- Intrinsic motivation to learn and share the joy of learning by passing it on to others via teaching.
- Unobstructed progress on the learning curve.
- Thirst for self- discovery.
- Willingness to go the extra mile to maximise learning.
- Ability to transcend all obstacles and barriers in the pursuit of excellence.
- Preparedness to move out of the ‘comfort zone’ by taking untrodden paths of teaching to facilitate learning.
This list does not end here. The attempt here is to give a brief overview of what I intend to convey when I talk of teacher readiness. Most often than not when educators and administrators sit for an audit of educational practices, teacher readiness is not accounted for as having a direct bearing on learner preparedness and their learning outcomes. The first step towards educational reforms that are vociferously being articulated is to acknowledge the importance of this crucial factor to complete the learning circle. The logical progression would then be to enable teachers to be ‘ready’, facilitate their professional growth and constantly keep assessing the level of readiness to ascertain the efficacy of the teaching – learning process. Easier said than done!
One needs to factor in different issues that plague the teaching fraternity before any road map for their up-gradation and professional development can be made. The following areas need urgent remediation for any meaningful engagement with the reform process to kick start:
- Aptitude for teaching and attitude towards professional growth and development.
- Job satisfaction (which often remains elusive).
- Remuneration of teachers (remains ignominiously low).
- Autonomy and a free hand in academic related matters.
- Representation in policy making with regard to school rules and service conditions.
- Impetus on continuous professional development.
- Promoting social restructuring to boost the image of teaching practitioners.
It is an undisputed fact that teachers are the backbone of any education system, without whom this ‘business of education’ cannot be transacted. So why is it that they don’t get their due? Why are the present day teachers a frustrated lot? Why this disillusionment and disenchantment with the teaching-learning process? Is this a recent phenomenon or a malice deeply entrenched but seldom voiced for want of appropriate forums to address the genuine problems faced by the teaching community?
Imagine how wonderful it would be if teachers are able to work in an environment which is open and immune from fear; where freedom to express dissent is not seen as an act of rebellion or met with a talkdown attitude; where new ideas and zeal for experimentation is not countered with sarcasm; where peer learning is a not just facilitated but becomes a defining feature of the learning culture; where reflective teaching determines and streamlines all the curricular activities; where passion and zeal for teaching-learning spurs every teacher to continuously keep updating and upgrading knowledge and skills. Is there anything else that could incentivise the teaching profession than a climate that has all these features mentioned above?
It is high time we take a look into the health of the education system determined primarily by teacher readiness and practices employed by them which in turn determine the nature and scope of learning of students.
P AJITHA is an eager learner, teaching practitioner, who believes that true education is transformational in nature. Teaching according to her is an art that can be mastered through continuous learning and a skill that can be honed through incessant practice and developed through constant reflection but which still remains largely an intuitive process .She entered the profession by chance but continues to stay put by choice. She is a second generation teacher who claims to have inherited the aptitude for teaching as a legacy from her parents and owes them her solid foundation in education by virtue of having studied in Sainik School Imphal . She presently teaches at Delhi Public School, Coimbatore but prefers to call herself a co-learner in the journey of self-discovery she embarks with her students in the process that we call ‘education’.