The quality education in any school can only be achieved through proficient and effective instructions from teachers and therefore any improvement in student attainment at school level is possible when teachers are equipped with appropriate knowledge, skills and attitude. Moreover, it is evident that teacher quality or lack thereof, impacts students for years to come, long after their direct contact with an individual teacher. Fundamental to teacher preparation is the understanding by teachers that above all else, it is the teacher who makes the difference. Since teachers are the change agent in the society and have one of the most important roles to fulfil, it is imperative that the governments need to ensure high social and emotional quotient along with intellectual development for them. NEP 2020 mandates 50 hours of professional development of every teacher in school ecosystem. In order to ensure effective implementation of NEP 2020, culture of cognitive coaching with in the schools is to be created and the entire workforce at schools need to be trained for that.
A lot of research is being carried out in the field of educational development and our understanding on principles of pedagogy and andragogy is building at a very fast speed. In order to translate these development into actionable items in classroom, in-service continuous professional development(CPD) of teachers play an important role and needs to be driven with a sense of urgency. However, there are multiple challenges in building a sustainable and effective model for continuous professional development of K 12 teachers. Though the limitations and constraints are contextual and need to be addressed in a localised manner, there are some common gaps across schools which this write up aims to highlight and suggest generalized solutions to address these gaps and enhance the quality of classroom transactions.
CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
- It is a top down approach wherein the authorities decide about the content and modalities of the program and mandate it on teachers. This leads to resistance amongst the participants as they perceive it to be waste of time and hence very low level of engagement. Shared perspective on the purpose and content of professional development needs to be built.
- Unavailability of well deliberated annual professional development plan based on inputs from multiple stakeholders like teachers, class room observations, student performance, school vision and mission statement etc.
- Lack of varied interventions based on the principles of andragogy for professional development and follow up plans.
- Most of the professional development interventions are clinical with an approach of identifying negatives of the current practice leading to dis-empowered teacher leaders thereby worsening the scenario.
- Limited opportunities for professional development for teacher educator and key decision makers to ensure effective conceptualisation and design of the annual professional development plan.
OBJECTIVES OF CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (CPD)
CPD of teachers is to be done with an objective of enhancing student attainment wherein teachers are the recipient and they bring in the transformation in learning environment. OECD (organisation for economic cooperation and development) has suggested the classroom learning environment to incorporate the following principles
- Make learning central, encourage engagement, and be the place where students come to understand themselves as learners.
- Ensure that learning is social and often collaborative.
- Be highly attuned to students’ motivations and the importance of emotions.
- Be acutely sensitive to individual differences, including prior knowledge , socio economic background, preferred learning style etc.
- Be demanding of every student, without overloading students.
- Use assessments that emphasize formative feedback; and
- Promote connections across activities and subjects, both in and out of school.
This necessitates the demanding framework for teacher’s continuous professional development leading to not only enhancing individual skills but also provide opportunities for collaboration to create a conducive learning environment by combining approaches and develop an understanding of how and when to use certain methods and strategies.
The effective and implementable framework for CPD is suggested to incorporate the following
- There is a belief that every teacher is in the system to make a difference in the life of every student they come across.
- The teachers have an equal voice on the design and implementation of CPD.
- CPD includes variety of professional development interventions and is not just limited to face to face sessions
- CPD is designed and implemented in a non threatening manner with absolute transparency leading to improvement in class room transactions.
- CPD addresses behaviour, knowledge, emotions and thinking of the teachers to transform the class room transactions.
- CPD is a combination of natural occurrences through workplace experiences and planned interventions.
- CPD addresses development goals of schools including student outcomes along with teacher’s growth and fulfilment.
- CPD fosters collaboration and expertise sharing amongst the teachers and is situated in classrooms and
- CPD is to be perceived as ongoing process rather than a periodic event.
- Accountability system needs to be created so that teachers own the responsibility for student learning
- Periodic teacher and student assessment providing data based inputs on progress and gaps.
- Well structured training modules including motivational workshops as well as building strength in content and pedagogy.
APPROACH FOR CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
For implementing an effective CPD within the school system, teachers are encouraged to undergo self assessment and figure out gaps in their knowledge/practice and subsequently bridge this gap by taking certification courses/ workshops or any other interventions like action research, book review , case study etc. There is a definite need to enable and empower teachers to use educational research for informing instructional strategies in the class room. There is no single best way of teaching and teachers should be able to identify the needs of their students and create a balance between personal exploration and systematic instructions. The CPD should be designed with an objective of building understanding on how various approaches are used and build flexibility on adapting and applying their learning in the class room situations.
Some of the suggested interventions for CPD are:
- SELF STUDY: Action research, book review, research paper reading,
- REFLECTIVE PRACTICES: Class room observation as a cyclic process providing an opportunity for systematic investigation of teaching and learning in the class room. Observations could be video recording of their own class or peer observation.
- LESSON STUDY: Involves repeated cycles of collaborative lesson planning, teaching the same lesson and then systematically reflecting collectively on the teaching and learning process of different teachers in a constructive manner without any formal evaluation.
- READING GROUPS: Teachers meet in small groups to discuss something ( research paper, an article etc.) they have read and is relevant to their teaching. The group could also be used as a platform for enhancing the conceptual understanding of the teaching subjects.
- DEMONSTRATION OF LEARNING: The teachers are to be encouraged to showcase their learning in the schools as well as other platforms like attending and presenting at conferences, publishing and joining teachers’ associations.
- MENTORING SCHEMES: Accomplished teachers are encouraged to mentor the beginners hand holding and inspiring them. This exercise develops a positive first impression and create pride in teaching profession as well as the institute that they ae working for. The smooth transition from beginner to a seasoned professional also lowers the drop out rate in teaching profession.
All the stakeholders globally endorse the requirement for an ongoing in service professional development of teachers for quality education. While, the approach, scope and intensity of CPD may vary, there is no denying that the educationists need to work in collaboration to design meaningful interventions aligned to other factors in schools. There is a strong need to enable and empower teachers so that they can take responsibility for their own development in the interest of their student. The school management needs to provide complete support for teacher development. An ecosystem for learning and knowledge sharing is to be built for betterment of learners. Teachers as researchers and life long learners would be the ones to adapt to the recent development and transform school education for creating a better tomorrow.
ACADEMIC CONSULTANT AND TRAINER
Mukta has diverse experience in Education, Biotech and IT industry in and outside India across profiles and organisations. Mukta Sharma is a passionate educationist and has experienced various facets of education industry including but not limited to School Administration, Curriculum design and implementation, Student/parent Counselling, Macro management of K 12 schools, Teacher training and development, training of school Principals and leaders for enhancing personal and professional effectiveness.