Developing any skill requires training. Without it, the quality of the build-up will be mediocre and the application will remain substandard. Take the example of a student learning to play soccer. He/she can definitely kick the ball around but mastering the game will require the student to undergo a rigorous training regime before calling soccer a skill. This is true for almost all professions – law, medicine, engineering, management and definitely, teaching. With society progressing rapidly and the educators tasked with the responsibility of preparing the young minds to face the challenges of the future, teachers need continuous training to pick up the latest teaching skills and educate as per the current norms.
Today, the necessity of teachers’ professional development is fortunately well understood. However, the effectiveness of the programs remains dicey. Institutions either rush through their professional development workshops or overwork the teachers, leaving little energy for actually implementing the learned skills.If teachers’ PD is indeed a priority, then it must be done in the following 5 ways as any glitch here ultimately trickles down to the students’ education and the whole chain soon becomes counterproductive.
- Providing ample time to the training sessions
The best boarding school in India focus on 1-2 high-level skills every year. If this academic session is about differentiation, then the next will include personalisation. Showing 200 slides over 5 days and merely reading out the techniques of differentiation helps no one. A skill like identifying a classroom’s varying learning needs and planning a curriculum to fit the strengths of every student requires in-depth understanding, interaction, practice and exploration. When the focus is on one skill at a time,it receives sufficient examinationthat goes way beyond a simple PowerPoint presentation.
- Modelling the skill at hand
The real classroom is quite different than what is showed in the workshop. Students might come up with unique issues while the teacher is trying to employ a new tactic.Modelling takes care of such instances right in the professional development session where a simulation is created for the teachers to practice after the skill has been discussed. This is the place where the educators can rehearse the skill, take feedback in real-time from other educators, discuss potential problems and come up with unique solutions. Modelling is like the application step of the theory learned. It provides good practice before the actual class.
- Creating an environment of collaboration
In a typical professional development session, almost all teachers of a particular school participate to undergo the training. Once out of the conference room, the discussions around the skill cannot stop. The boarding school in India thus maintain a collaborative environment among their teachers as well since interaction accelerates the development of the intended skill among all. A teacher struggling with employing differential learning can easily contact the one who has mastered it. Together, they can maintain the benchmarks of their individual classrooms until the next PD session can pick up the topic again.
- Getting feedback from the students
The success of the professional development workshops ultimately gets decided by the students. The classes are on the receiving end of the teachers’ enhanced skills and the children will always be the best judges. Time and again, students must participate in a feedback drill where they score or comment on their teachers’ teaching techniques and suggest ways in which they would like to receive their lessons. The feedback will not only help the progress of the PD workshops but will also enable the teachers to focus on specific areas during the sessions.
- Employing microteaching practices
Education researcher John Hattie describes microteaching as the technique of recording oneself while teaching and going over the audio/video file later to pinpoint fallacies in the lecture. This practice turns the teachers into their own judges and paves the way for self-exploration and reflection. True development can never happen until one realises his/her own drawbacks. Without the internal drive to improve, no professional development session can effectively help. The top boarding school in India use microteaching, either through a recording device or by allowing personal assessment, to enable teachers to take more out their PD and arrive with open minds to progress.
Teachers’ continuous professional development is as important as the educational infrastructure and curriculum. And Swarnprastha Public School gives the feature its deserved priority by engaging in teacher’s PD regularly in the above ways. SPS believes that teachers need space to improve their skills. It is the school’s duty to bring the modern pedagogies to the teachers and equip them with the required abilities. Efficient professional development of teachers benefits the whole school as they are eventually the spines of all educational institutions.