Do you know of any good teacher for English? I need one desperately.
We are just not able to get a teacher for Maths. Please tell me if you know of one.
Of the 250 applications we received, we have been able to short list barely 20.
We have had to hire a teacher on a contract basis, paying him for each hour he teaches as per the fees he charges in his coaching centre.
These are some of the comments made by principals and vice principals to me in the recent past. Comments made in great distress and worry. These were from principals of schools in different parts of the country.
There is clearly a dearth of teachers in the country, more specifically of effective teachers.
Where are the teachers? Where are all the good teachers? Importantly, why do we have this crisis of talent?
The guru has a deified position in our cultural texts and discourses. Teaching is one of the noblest professions. A teacher touches infinity. Teaching is a vocation, a calling. Yet, the teacher has a low social status, ranked at the lower rungs of the workforce. It is important to note that the ‘teacher’ here refers to a school teacher; the college /university teacher is called by the more lofty term ‘professor’.
This strange paradox of thought and reality or rather, what is culturally accepted/ believed and socially practiced, perhaps is at the core of the problem. Teaching is rarified by words like noble, vocation yet the teacher is not given the corresponding respect. And if someone says that the teachers today are not the gurus of earlier times, well that is precisely the point I made – why is there a dearth of talent in teaching?Neenu Puri
We need to see teaching as a profession and teachers as professionals and treat them as such, accord them the respect due to a professional, make them work as expected /required of them as professionals, offer remuneration as professionals, recognise the critical role they play in shaping minds in order to both attract and retain talent. Importantly, first make that talent.
There are several aspects here. I will focus on just one. Schools themselves take steps to effect the change and make a difference. One key is to take steps to continuously upgrade teachers’ professional qualifications and skills so that they are abreast of the educational developments and requirements. Regular training of teachers on relevant areas is vital to ensure effective teaching learning in schools.
Professional development of teachers is being recognised by schools and certainly through government announcements and measures; CBSE has made it mandatory to hold a training programmes for seven days per year.
Some steps for effective teacher professional development
- School Development Plan: A school must create a whole school development plan, clearly spelling out objectives, resources and timelines. The plan can be at two levels: a five years one with a mid/long term vision and an annual one based on this. This must include the training needed – on which areas, for whom and why and the possible ways to meeting the training needs.
- Identifying Training Needs: The training needs/topics must be done in consultation with the teachers, asking them where they need support, where they need improvement. There will be perhaps two levels/types of requirements/needs — one that the school administration/management identifies is required for the school growth; the other that the teachers identify they need for improving their skills and teaching.
For example, the school administration may decide the school must use technology more comprehensively in the school and organise training programmes for the teachers on this topic. At the same time, many or even a few, teachers may identify the need for help with classroom management, expressing their difficulty in managing students and say that this is impacting on their teaching and the learning in the classroom. The administration must take due note of the teachers’ need and address it. It is the teacher who is to transact the curriculum in the classroom and her inputs are critical. Thus, the training to be done cannot and should not be organised following a ‘top down’ approach.
- Regular Training Programmes: For meaningful and enduring benefits, it is important to have regular training programmes at appropriate times and stages. A one off/annual is not enough or sufficient and will never yield adequate results. The training programmes must be ongoing and regular, through the year and across years and for all segments of the school—administration, teachers (all sections – Pre Primary, Primary, Middle Senior), management for a whole school, cohesive and cogent improvement.
- l External and internal Training Programmes: Training programmes can be conducted by external and internal resources.
Here is a wonderful practice followed by a school: the last day of each working month is devoted to in-service training of teachers. The teachers make short presentations on specific topics, sharing good practices and ideas with clearly identified groups. Over a year, each teacher gets an opportunity of making such a presentation to her/his colleagues. A great way to learn and grow!
Many schools have clear In-Service Teacher Training Days at the end of the vacations for teacher training.
- Follow Up. At the end of each training programme, the school must have a system of implementing the points/elements it has learned in any training and decided on including in the school programme. Appropriate staff members/coordinators/groups of teachers take on /be given the responsibility of effective inclusion, implementation and monitoring of the points.
As a first step, all the school sections which have attended any training KG, Primary, Middle and Senior- should try and share the key points of all the training sessions. One possible way: A group of teachers from each section can be asked to make a presentation on the key points of the sessions for their section and share this with all the sections. This can help with a common understanding on key points. Perhaps as a follow up, each section and/or the full school can identify key points/areas to focus on in the classroom practices in the coming months. This can help with continuity and progression across the identified points/areas.
Based on the training programme and the follow up, the school can identify further training for teachers to ensure strengthening of concepts and accelerated efficiency and effectiveness.
- Dissemination and Sharing: Workshops/conferences/seminars outside the school are all too often attended by the principal or members of the leadership team. Financial constraints do not allow more than a few to attend such external workshops. There must be an attempt to widen the circle and not limit the participation to the same few. Importantly, each time a staff member attends such a conference/workshop, the school should arrange for him/her to disseminate the learning through training for all the concerned staff members.
These are just a few ways of helping all teachers grow professionally. It is widely recognised that teachers are the single biggest influence on student performance. And perhaps only in this profession do we have the strange phenomenon that with each passing year, the teacher grows older by a year and each year meets new students who are younger by a year to the preceding set of students. Look at the wide generation gap! How else except by helping teachers stay current with the students and educational developments will the teacher deliver effectively?
Happy Teacher’s Day !