Nepal | December 14, 2018

Training for teachers: Enhancing teaching quality

SANTOSH GAUTAM

Teaching in particular and the entire education sector in general should be kept free from politics so as to create an environment conducive for healthy professional competition and growth of teachers

Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/THT

Teachers’ Professional Development (TPD) encompasses the entirety of attempts carried out with a view to promoting professionalism and expertise of teachers so as to make their efforts result oriented and productive.

According to Fullan, the professional development of teachers is a broad area which includes any activity or process intent on improving dexterity, attitudes, understanding or involvement in current or future roles whereas according to Villegas-Reimers, the professional development of teachers is the professional growth the teacher acquires as a result of his/her experience and systematic analysis of his/her own practice.

It is nevertheless directed towards the enhancement of aptitude and skills of the teachers to cope with the socio-cultural and economic constraints so as to provide congenial and conducive learning environment to the students for better learning outcomes.

As stated by Oldroyd and Hall, it implies the improvement of control skills of the actual working conditions, a progression of professional status within the teaching career.  There are various modules and categories of TPD. Past studies show that TPD can be divided into three broad categories: 1) Standardised TPD: The most centralised approach, best used to disseminate information and skills among large teacher populations; 2) Site-based TPD: Intensive learning by groups of teachers in a school or region, promoting profound and long-term changes in instructional methods; and 3) Self-directed TPD: Independent learning, sometimes initiated at the learner’s discretion, using available resources that may include computers and the Internet. Teachers are the real architects of the nation’s destiny because teachers are supposed to inculcate the values of life in the tender minds of the children and empower them with the caliber to judge what is right and what is wrong.

It is by virtue of their commitment, diligence and dedication, students get physically, mentally and emotionally prepared for the roles and responsibilities they need to shoulder in their lives. To guide student thinking, teachers must also understand how children’s ideas about a subject develop, and the connections between their ideas and important ideas in the subject area.

Research on the conceptual change science teaching project and the Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) project shows that professional development can help teachers construct these understandings. Owing to the lack of knowledge, skills and efficiency required in the profession many teachers fail to shoulder their responsibilities.

This is more the case of novice teachers but even the experienced teachers need training and professional revitalisation.

TPD programmes have failed to give the desired results in our country. Even after being trained, many teachers have not been able to bring about a desired change in the learning outcomes of the students. It must be taken seriously that the lack of expertise and professionalism on the part of the teachers jeopardises the educational future of the entire nation. Training for the sake of escaping duty at schools or to collect the certificates for promotion leads to dearth of real expertise.  Likewise skill enhancement of the teachers through the training also differs according to the personal features of the teachers.

On the other hand according to different studies and as per the reports of the Department of Education, there is a lot more to do to bring about a significant change in the learning achievements of the students. Hence there is an urgent need to evaluate the real significance of the TPD programme by analysing the gap between policies and poor and miserable practices. Researches need to be carried out to find out the real causes behind poor outcomes and low quality of education even after the implementation of TPD programme.

Low motivation of teachers, taking teaching just as a platform to wait for better opportunities, low financial returns compared to the time spent and efforts applied in the profession, ineffective monitoring and evaluation from the government agencies, lack of proper coordination among curriculum developing, implementing, training and monitoring agencies have led to low performance of teachers, which overall affect students’ performance.

For many, teaching is a secondary job and teachers tend not to seriously consider the need for their professional development. Even after being trained, they do not consider the urgency of bringing them to practice. On the other hand special trainings packages for promoting integrity and professional ethics need to be launched at different levels.

Effective systems of reward and punishment can also help in the improvement of classroom performance of teachers. Teaching in particular and the entire education sector in general should be kept free from political interference, thereby creating an environment conducive for healthy professional competition and growth of teachers.

Special plans must be chalked out and policies must be formulated to uphold the pride of teaching as a prime profession. Most importantly need based training programmes carried out under differentiated approaches would be more effective and result oriented.


A version of this article appears in print on March 19, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


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