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  • Writer's pictureThings Education

Data-Informed Teacher Development…

from Things Education is here!

Hello and welcome to the 57th edition of our fortnightly newsletter, Things in Education.


After behind-the-scenes work for more than a year, Things Education is ready to publicly announce its Data-Informed Teacher Development solutions for schools and government bodies. As part of the solution, we have: 


  1. An online teacher support platform called TEPS

  2. A management report based on classroom observations of teachers throughout the year

  3. An online and in-person teacher professional development programme 


Using the online teacher support platform (TEPS) and the classroom observations, we create customised teacher professional development (TPD) plans for each school. If you are interested in building the best teaching support system for your school, please get in touch with us at +91 9898469961 or email us at info@things-education.com. Today’s edition is a culmination of multiple editions that we have written over the last few months. We have been trying to build our Data-Informed Teacher Development solution on certain principles, and today is a summary of what some of these principles are.


Learning Outcomes: It is important to identify specific learning outcomes for any lesson or topic that one wants to teach. We feel that picking the right learning outcome solves half the problem of creating the lesson. Here we explain how to write good learning outcomes that will help the teacher focus on what is important to learn and teach, how to plan an activity or lesson so that students take away the learning outcome, and finally how a teacher can quickly and effectively check if the learning outcome has been achieved or not. 


Teaching Strategies: Once we have narrowed down on a specific, measurable learning outcome, it then becomes important to check if the learning outcome is aimed at getting the student to build conceptual understanding or is it for practising or mastering a skill or procedure. As you can see from this edition, the teaching strategy that one uses can be very different depending on the type of learning outcomes. TEPS makes this part easier for teachers. TEPS supports teachers by letting them choose from more than 50,000 teaching strategies for different types of learning outcomes – be it concept building or practising. 


Artificial Intelligence: For our work on TEPS, we leveraged generative-AI. In fact, we have also encouraged teachers to pull the levers of Gen-AI to their advantage. There are some obvious limitations to how much Gen-AI can help teachers, but our team used their skills and experience to ensure that teachers could leverage Gen-AI in the best possible way. What happens with Gen-AI is that we ask it for something, and then it responds, and then we clarify, and then it responds... and so on, and finally you get what you have been looking for. But hey, what if we say that we have eliminated those intermediate steps? You ask Gen-AI for lesson plans, misconceptions, prior knowledge requirements, or assessment questions for specific learning outcomes, and bam! TEPS gives you exactly what you need with no intermediate steps. 


Lesson Plans: It is important to understand that unless the teachers are at a pretty foundational level of their development, standardised lesson plans are probably not a good strategy for a school. These may inhibit teachers who want to go beyond, and reduce internal motivation of other teachers to ever try anything new in class. Teachers that are able to build context into their lessons and use their own experiences are most likely to engage students and get them to learn. TEPS has a feature where the teacher can edit the given teaching strategies, lesson plans, etc. and contextualise them for specific classes. 


Professional Development: TEPS helps with pedagogical and content knowledge of teachers. Even if a teacher is looking for a straightforward teaching strategy for getting students to practise their fractions, if they see that there are multiple strategies that can be used based on constructivism or inquiry, the teacher is more likely to be exposed to information that earlier was not in their purview. We think sometimes the lack of content knowledge and linked pedagogical approaches makes teachers less confident. Having a resource like TEPS will not only expose the teachers to newer ideas, but also give them the confidence to try out these ideas.


Classroom Observations: Moving on from the online teacher support tool – TEPS, we think classroom observations are key in keeping the work of teacher professional development an ongoing process. It brings in the key stakeholder – the school management – as an equal partner along with the teacher. To ensure that the school management (principal, academic head, section head, etc.) is able to easily assess what is happening in class, it is key to create an observation tool with simple, observable and measurable parameters. The observation tool helps teachers get feedback on their lessons, while it helps the management get a clear picture of how effectively the teachers are leveraging the teacher development programme. This effectively becomes like an observation-feedback-practice cycle for the teachers and helps in creating good habits of teaching.


We believe that teachers work best in an environment of support, and that is what we have tried to build around our longest lasting solutions of online and in-person training sessions. Supporting teachers outside of the sessions is important and will be done with the use of TEPS. Classroom observations are important for feedback and accountability, while year-long professional development sessions are the deep dives into pedagogy, classroom management, etc. that teachers can experience. If you are interested in bringing this to your school, please write to us at info@things-education.com or call at +91 9898469961. If you are an individual educator or parent, you can always avail yourself of the TEPS website.

 

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Edition: 3.5


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