Teacher training: A crucial factor in educational excellence
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. – Alvin Toffler
Education is an instrument that transforms the world and makes it a better place. It is a great equaliser which uplifts and allows human beings to realise their potential. In today’s times, education is a basic necessity and the role played by teachers in imparting knowledge cannot be overstated.
Dictionaries define ‘teacher’ as a person who teaches in a school or educational institution. However, in reality, they are much more than that – a teacher is a person whose role and contribution to a pupil’s growth cannot be put into words. They are the beacons of knowledge, guiding and moulding students, who are the future architects of the world. Among school-related factors, teachers play the most crucial role in the overall development of students.
Economist Eric Hanushek has found that a student taught by a good teacher gains 1.5 grade level equivalents, while a student taught by a bad teacher gets only half an academic year’s worth. Such is the role of a teacher.
Bridging the gap in the education system with teacher training
Teacher training is a never-ending process that aims to foster teaching skills, help master novel knowledge and develop newer proficiencies in teachers, which in return will improve students’ learning. Training is an important aspect of teachers’ careers because of various reasons. Firstly, for freshers, it is a challenging task to teach for the first time. If a teacher can’t explain or convince their student, they fail as a teacher and subsequently, students will lose their interest in that particular subject. Secondly, teaching is not only about delivering lectures, it entails much more than that. Training programmes at regular intervals help acquaint teachers with the latest technology and attain robust competencies and skills like classroom management, time management, expertise in pedagogy and context, etc. to perform efficiently. Therefore, training should be a continuous activity rather than an annual event to keep teachers abreast of the latest methodologies and guidelines. The World Development Report On Education (2018) states that ‘teacher skills and motivation both matter’ and that equipping teachers with regular and individually-targeted training is one of the most important steps in achieving learning improvements.
Evolving classroom environment
Digital resources: Today, students have access to a vast pool of online resources. Without building awareness and guiding educators with the right tools, it is difficult to channel students in the right direction.
Online learning: Online enrolments are growing at a whooping rate. Therefore, to make learning a faster and seamless process, it is imperative for teachers to be ready to teach online and assist students.
The strategic move: Refining teaching approach
Teacher training should aim at developing the following traits in teachers to make them ready to teach and inspire 21st-century students.
Digital comfort: Training sessions are needed to mould teachers as per the requirements of the tech-savvy Gen Z that is exposed to open-source learning platforms. Teachers need to be well-informed and equipped to address students’ queries and provide guidance. In addition to handling tech-savvy students, teachers also have to keep abreast of the changes in the education system.
Connecting concepts to real-world experiences: Today’s education system demands integrated learning to be incorporated into the curriculum. Training must be imparted to make learning interactive and interesting. Concepts must be explained with real-life experiences, so that students do not cram concepts, instead of relating those to real life.
Communication: The ability to articulate and simplify concepts is a skill that will help teachers support a varied group of students. Teachers should be able to communicate with students effectively and convey concepts without any ambiguity.
Subject expertise: Teachers should be proficient in the subject they teach. This helps teachers in devising innovative pedagogies in a fast-changing educational space. Therefore, how a teacher explains a concept to students signifies the effectiveness of the teacher. Additionally, teachers should be competent enough to manage students from diverse backgrounds and abilities without much hindrance.
Counseling and advocating students: For our education system to be effective, teachers need to focus on the overall development of students, and motivate and support them with the required guidance. As it is rightly said, teachers shape students’ lives.
It is thus imperative for every institution to set up its own training and development cell, which identifies the need to impart training at the right time to the right people through the right source on the right topic.
Pre-service and on-the-job teacher training are popular modes of training for academic staff, wherein pre-service and in-service training are inseparable components. For the best teaching–learning outcomes, imparting in-service training to the staff is inevitable. Teaching is an art that needs to be acquired; it is not necessarily an innate trait. Having stellar academic records does not guarantee the success of a teacher in a classroom setting. The best teacher is the one who leaves an indelible impression on the minds of pupils and enhances their learning experience.
Knowledge is an asset and the teacher is the medium through which it is disseminated. Therefore, equipping teachers with the appropriate skill sets is as important as imparting knowledge to students.