Teacher support is more important…
…than just encouragement.
Hello and welcome to the 49th edition of our fortnightly newsletter, Things in Education.
As we come to the end of the first term in schools across India, it is time for introspection. What have we done and what more is still to be done? In the same vein, we are also looking back today at what we have learned about teachers in the last few years.
We know that teachers have to not only groom young minds, but also have a ton of responsibilities as administrators and also as event organisers. They have mandates from school leadership around not just teaching responsibilities, but also regarding school events and school processes. If you want to get an idea of what a life of a teacher may be like in a private school in India, here is a nice summary of what we have seen. As if these were not enough, teachers are also expected to grow professionally by trying new pedagogical approaches in class, or simply by increasing student average scores.
In a situation with so many things on a teacher’s plate, generative AI (aka ChatGPT, and others) created waves in society with jobs apparently being threatened. As we wrote earlier, teachers do not need to fear AI taking over their jobs. In fact, they should befriend AI, as it is great at doing some of the more cumbersome parts of their job. So we encourage teachers to embrace AI and make it act like a slightly less-than-obedient personal assistant.
Whether it is the pressure of the school management or internal motivation to try something different in class, teachers do take the plunge and try things out. However, when there is a lack of a support system, teachers can get discouraged easily. As we wrote earlier, either teachers try it once (or a handful of times), and give up because they try to do too much at the same time. We think that teachers can go step by step in trying to explore various pedagogies.
We believe that we are building a support system for teachers. And as any good support system would do, we pointed out the issues with trying new pedagogical approaches without planning the appropriate scaffolding for students. In the same vein, we pointed out what constructivism is and also what it is not.
Oh, and we also kept in mind the junior teachers. Recently, we have been writing about the fundamentals of lesson planning. We wrote about why picking the right learning outcome is crucial. Not only that, we delved deep into what makes a learning outcome good. More solid foundation building stuff came when we wrote about how teaching strategies get linked directly to what you want the students to take away from the lesson (learning outcomes). Some teaching strategies are meant for skill/knowledge building while others are meant for deep dives into understanding. Finally in the last edition, we wrote about how and why lesson plans need to be customised by each teacher depending on their context and experience.
So teachers in India are a part of a schooling system that wants to embrace new philosophies and pedagogies to engage students. Teachers are a part of a schooling system where each school is trying to create a unique experience of student learning. Teachers are expected to learn quickly and adapt to the management directives. At the same time, the support system right now is not ideal for teachers. There are not many resources available for teachers to operate an inquiry classroom in their class in the coming week. There are not many resources available that help teachers nail down their learning outcomes so that they can pick the appropriate teaching strategy.
What if we told you that you can get this all in one place? A list of good learning outcomes for any topic. A way to compare different pedagogical approaches. A grade appropriate teaching strategy. Possibility for a teacher to edit or create their own teaching strategies.
TEPS (Things Education’s Pedagogical Strategies) can do all of this for you! And over the past few weeks, some lucky users have been trying this out. We have our own teacher support platform that we will be launching publicly soon. But hey! If you want a sneak peek, just sign up here. And a lucky few will get early access.
Here are some comments on the experience of using TEPS by the early users.
“Oh this will reduce planning time for my teachers by 70-80%...”
“Oh! There are teaching strategies of different pedagogical approaches…?”
“Why are you giving this for free? You guys are crazy…”
“This is going to get so addictive…”
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