Is there a career path for teachers in India? Can teachers, like in other professions, climb a ladder? Will the salary schedule remain relatively flat? These are questions that this generation asks when questioned about taking up the so called ‘altruistic’ profession. That teaching is a noble profession is beyond doubt but to bring highly motivated professionals into teaching, an opportunity to progress to a higher level is being debated.
Countries like Australia, Canada, Singapore and Finland have developed standard of practice to keep their teaching faculties highly motivated and committed to work for the betterment of their country’s future as well as giving teachers an opportunity to climb the ladder of success-to a higher level in their teaching career. In India, to a great extent, a teacher has the same responsibility throughout her or his career.
There are changes taking place in the educational system in India, albeit slowly. Career enhancement programs for teachers in India is still a far cry. The common grouse of teachers in India is regarding the salary structure. With the advent of international schools providing IGCSE and IB curricula, the salary structure has seen a trajectory but then it is a limited segment.
The Draft New Education policy (DNEP) envisages professional development of the teaching faculty. The existing B Ed programme would be replaced by a four-year integrated programme that combines high-quality content, pedagogy and practical training. An integrated continuous professional development programme will also be developed for all subjects. Teachers will be required to complete a minimum of 50 hours of continuous professional development training every year.
For teachers working in lakhs of private schools in the country, going to the classroom and ending the career there is still a reality. B Rout, who teaches Economics says, “If there is a promotion, it motivates people. Mini promotions egg one on. Just as in the corporate world, teachers too should have positions to look up to.”
Many teachers harbour ambitions to lead not just inside but outside the classroom as well. Several schools in the world now have ‘teacher-leadership’ programmes under which teachers are groomed for more responsibilities and bigger positions.
Here are some of the highly successful nations who put child’s education as well as a teachers’ professional development as their nation’s priority.
Teacher Professional Development
Canadian teachers undergo a professional development and training program to take up leadership roles in the school, later in their careers.
In Ontario State, a Teacher Performance Appraisal (TPA) program is structured by the Ministry and administered by principals. Teachers are rated on 16 competencies aligned to three standards of practice:
1) Professional knowledge
2) Professional practice and leadership in learning communities
3) On-going professional learning.
The evaluations and observations for continuous improvement are done every five years and annually the Ministry awards teachers who achieve good results from the students.
In Ontario, teachers receive six professional development days each school year. In this program, classroom teachers are recruited in a collaborative project with other peers engaged in a form of research in education.
Teachers are expected to develop protocols, organize their own projects, direct research into their practices, and design professional learning for their peers. Principals are also expected to implement teacher professional learning communities.
In British Columbia, teachers are also required to have six professional development days each year. Since 2011, the province has focused on professional development through ‘inquiry-based’ professional learning communities.
These networks of teachers meet regularly to focus on understanding and addressing specific problems in their schools. There are ‘Coordinators of Inquiry’ – teachers who are released from 10-20 percent of their teaching duties to lead these networks.
The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers comprise seven Standards that are interconnected, interdependent and overlapping. The Standards are grouped into three domains of teaching; Professional Knowledge, Professional Practice and Professional Engagement.
Seven Standards of teaching
- Know students and how they learn
- Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area
- Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
- Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
- Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
- Identify and plan professional learning needs
- Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community
Three domains of teaching
Teachers know their students well – their linguistic, cultural and religious backgrounds and accordingly structure lessons to make them meaningful to students.
Teachers create effective teaching strategies – they interpret student’s data and find solutions to help them improve their performance.
Teachers identify their own learning needs and expand their professional learning.
Four stages of career
Four professional career stages:
- Highly Accomplished
The four career stages in the Standards provide benchmarks to recognise the professional growth of teachers throughout their careers.
A teacher from Singapore has the option of choosing any one from the three tracks for their career development-the teaching track, the leadership track and the specialist track. In the teaching track, teachers work up their way to become a Principal Master Teacher. In the leadership track, teachers can work up to become the Director-General of Education. In the specialist track, teachers’ focus is on research and teaching policy.
A teacher’s performance in the Educational Performance Management System (EPMS) determines when a teacher is eligible for advancement up the career ladder. The EPMS involves an annual evaluation in three areas:
- Professional Practice
- Leadership Management
- Personal Effectiveness
All teachers are observed for three years in order to determine which career path would best suit them. Teachers are expected to set and meet personal goals for their work, and demonstrate improvements in a rubric of competencies during observations of their teaching.
Teachers can improve their subject matter and pedagogical knowledge through courses at the National Institute of Education (NIE) or at the Academy of Singapore Teachers – established by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry and NIE also offer scholarship opportunities for teachers seeking MA and PhD degrees in Singapore or abroad, either full-time or part-time. Teachers can participate in as many as 100 hours of professional development per year.
In Japan, teachers, over the course of their careers, move up the path from being a teacher, head teacher and then principal. At the local level, prefectural boards of education plan daily in-service training and also provide specific training programs for teachers who have completed five, ten and twenty years of service as a teacher. A new system introduced sometime back requires Japanese teachers to prove that they are up-to-date on skills and practices every ten years in order to renew their teaching certificates, and this includes participating in at least 30 hours of formal professional development. Reports from the Centre on International Education Benchmarking confirm that “Teaching is a popular profession in Japan and the system had an oversupply of qualified candidates.” Due to concerns of teacher shortages after WWII, it was decreed that teachers would be paid 30 percent more than other civil servants.
In Hong Kong, the Teacher Competencies Framework (TCF) handles teacher’s professional development programs which keep track of the development of teachers’ competencies -in learning and teaching, school & student development- all through their careers.
The Education Bureau of Hong Kong takes care of school-based professional development programs (Peer-to-peer lesson observation) and collaborative lesson planning that follow a common structure and is implemented across all schools.
The Centre for Educational Leadership at the University of Hong Kong facilitates lesson observation and discussion between teachers in different education systems – such as Hong Kong and mainland China or Singapore – through video conferencing.
Hong Kong teachers are required to complete 150 hours of professional development every three years.
New Zealand education plan, known as “Investing in Educational Success”, wherein schools form “Communities of Learning” to share ideas and support one another. This program is divided into two tracks, teaching- lead teacher, expert teacher & leadership- executive principal and change principal. There is a cap on the number of teachers and principals who can reach these positions.
The Lead teacher’s classroom would be open for any teacher who would want to observe and learn. Expert teachers teach and mentor and they can advance to become principals.
Executive Principals work at other lower performing schools in the community and the ministry held him or her responsible for the performance of their schools. The most qualified and experienced principals become Change Principals. They are the ones who are appointed to reverse the fortunes of a low performing school.