Upskilling of Teachers: An Absolute Necessity in the Current Times
When one scans across the school systems across India, we come across a whole range of school types akin to a buffet, wherein, parents and students can choose schools the way one wants, based on social strata, demographics, and choice. There are government aided schools, local municipality schools, private aided schools, private unaided schools, experimental schools, and international schools.
The number of teacher graduates from education schools who get employed each year is huge. Yet, one in six elementary school teachers are not professionally trained in India. A common feature across the Indian education system is a shortage of qualified trained teachers.
There have been several government initiatives launched for teacher training like Samagrah Sikshan Abhiyan, and huge budgets allocated to teacher training. The spending on teacher upskilling and training has increased over the past few years and more governments are seeing the merit to upskill teachers.
While all this sounds like music to the ears – why do we not see the desired impact in classrooms – this is a question that as educators, policy makers, and government officials, we need to ask ourselves over and again.
The state and central governments have failed to generate enough importance for teacher training, which is resource intensive. As a result, government training bodies have not generated the desired impact.
In private schools, training is sporadic and hugely depends on the management and school leaders to conduct training programs. In these kind of schools, the principal’s role has reduced to merely being an administrative head, whose role is majorly to look into admissions, interact with parents, look into bus and school uniform allocation and distribution.
The role has moved away from being a pedagogical leader in most situations. As a result, academic agenda like teacher professional development is given least priority. This comes from a callous approach towards professional development and not seeing a merit in teacher upskilling.
Also, when the principal plays the role of a pedagogical leader, he/she understands the needs of the students, understands the gap areas, and is able to plug the gaps with suitable professional development for his/her team, either through external resource people or in-house experts. Such principals are far and few, while most of them function as administrative leaders.
While there is an increasing investment done by both government and private institutions, there is a serious lack of studying the impact of the workshops or professional development done. There is a half-hearted and a hurried attempt from teachers to implement the learnings from these sessions into classrooms, resulting in confused students and thus, failing to create an impact of the training.
There is a need to systematically study the gap areas, understand the school culture, the impact and work of the school leadership team, which includes the school principals, the heads of departments, or the coordinators, and then the work put in by teachers. One needs to study the classroom learning culture, learn about how the assessments are carried out, study the assessment structure, and also go deep into the annual results of every class.
Once the gap analysis study is done and gaps identified, it will be easy to plug in the professional development or the in-service for the teachers based on their needs. As a professional pedagogical leader, one needs to understand that the needs of a primary school may differ from a secondary, and one cannot treat this as a ‘one size fits’ all approach. In-service gaps need to be identified, suitable upskilling done and implemented in the classrooms and then an impact assessment carried out will complete the cycle for upskilling.
Pedagogical approaches to classroom teaching learning process and the recent advancement, use of technology, and research has hugely impacted how we teach and how students learn. The classical approach of disciplining students with authority no longer holds true, students need to be looked at as equal stake holders in the process of learning.
So, the approach towards discipline, teaching, and assessments is more of a facilitative manner than that as an authority figure. Teachers also need to self-reflect on their practices in order to improve and learn from what worked and did not in the classrooms.
In conclusion, teacher upskilling needs to be given more thought than what it is today, gap analysis and impact assessments need to be carried out to in order to have successful learning for teachers and make a greater impact on the classrooms.
Guest contributor Dr. Anuradha Sridhar is the Head of Curriculum Development and Training at the Aditya Birla Education Academy, a planned attempt to empower educators and to augment their skillsets to global levels. Any opinions expressed in this article are strictly that of the author.