Teaching our teachers – Should we?

If we consider that a child’s education can only ever be as good as their teachers then we begin to understand why training teachers is a priority.

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What the education sector needs to look at reforms that will not only make teaching an attractive profession, but also improve the quality of teachers. To quote, “Inspire a teacher, and you will inspire a child. Inspire a child, and you can change the world!”

Teachers are important. Among many other school related factors, the role of teachers in shaping children’sfuture plays a crucial role in student achievement. A country where ‘Guru Shishya Parampara’ has been prevalent, this importance is not only from their legendary standing, but from their roles as professionals and critical levers in defining the quality of education children receive. Teachers have the power to transform lives, therefore it is of incredible importance that teachers are not just told ‘what’ to teach but ‘how’ to teach. Many teachers struggle to teach without necessary teaching and learning techniques, a consequence of this is many students struggle to learn. If we consider that a child’s education can only ever be as good as their teachers then we begin to understand why training teachers is a priority.

Varying learning needs of children…

Children in our country have to take school education in three levels – Pre primary, Primary and Secondary. Learning needs of the children vary across the three levels.

Pre primary – Lower Primary level– where children transform from ‘non academic’ and highly needy (both emotionally and academically) into readers and writers with burgeoning independence skills. Teachers who know just the right amount about the student, their needs and abilities and how to optimize this information to create an optimal learning setting for students are needed.

Upper Primary level – children are emotionally complex and academically challenging as they begin to make the leap to adulthood. For teacher, challenges go beyond understanding the content and teaching classes on a daily basis. Teachers who rely on the interest of their subject, their personal enthusiasm having the ability to craft high quality, captivating lessons to win the engagement of their students are suitable.

Secondary level – teachers with more thorough knowledge of specific disciplines like Math, Science and Language, who focus on the ‘how’ and ‘why’ as well as ‘what’ are better suited for this level.

Need for training teachers…

There is a dire need to develop diverse teaching methods and techniques for current and prospective teachers. Teacher training needs an overhaul that sets teachers on a path to become lifelong teachers – matching them with the expectations for their students. Instead of a ‘One size fits all’ approach, teacher training needs to be aligned to trainee’s competencies so that they’re better able to direct learning, interact with students and identify those who need support. The role of teachers is changing every day and as they cater to students looking for skill development, students who don’t know English or using the new age technology, the need for teacher training is of vital importance now. They are many techniques which the teachers need to know in order to facilitate a positive learning environment. Regular training and feedback would keep teachers current in pedagogical trends and reinforces what works. Teachers training programs should lay emphasis on real life sessions with students in classroom environment in order to get an idea how the real life experience is and what are the challenges that come in. This will make the teacher more confident and also, enable them to discover diverse teaching techniques for an improved classroom environment. Even during initial training, trainers have to monitor, update and improve the training programme. Post training and in the classroom – teachers should receive ongoing and regular coaching.

Accomplishing this will require adapting a systematic lens to answer the many questions that persist – what would it take to prepare and motivate teachers to ensure that students learn and learn well in school? The current institutions support system may not be sufficient in preparing teachers to accommodate to the diversity and student learning levels. Teacher training courses have to evolve continuously. Scrutinizing regularly how teacher training sessions operate leads to the reframing and redesign of various aspects of the training programme always with the intention to make them more effective and improving the experience of both trainees and trainers alike.

We all remember our favorite teacher at school, the ones who ignited our passion / interest in a particular subject and inspired us to pursue lifelong learning.What the education sector needs to look at reforms that will not only make teaching an attractive profession, but also improve the quality of teachers. To quote, “Inspire a teacher, and you will inspire a child. Inspire a child, and you can change the world!”

Teachers have the power to transform lives, therefore it is of incredible importance that teachers are not just told ‘what’ to teach but ‘how’ to teach. Many teachers struggle to teach without necessary teaching and learning techniques, a consequence of this is many students struggle to learn.

Parvani Dawar, an accomplished Early Childhood educationist, has extensive academic and administrative experience with reputed preschools in India. A graduate from Fergusson College, Pune, she is pursuing a British CACHE level 3 diploma in Childcare and Education. She has experience in varied Early Years pedagogy – the Reggio Emilia approach, Finish Phenomenon Based Learning and the Early Years Foundation Stage, she is a Certified Trainer for Jolly Phonics and Art of Storytelling. She is also the MP Territory Head of Early Childhood Association, India.

Using innovative practices such as design thinking, project- and play-based learning to enhance the learning experience and outcomes among pre-school and kindergarten pupils, she has revamped the curriculum of many preschools. She has been felicitated for her contribution towards Early Childhood Education at various national forums such as ‘Global Guru’s Conclave’, ‘Education Icon Awards’ etc.