Teachers are the fulcrum of teaching-learning process. They are the catalyst to empower future generation with the skills that are required 10 years down the line. This implies that they need to understand and have those skills in them right now so as to inculcate them in students. This also means the teachers need to be groomed if they have these skills. Contrary to this fact, grooming of teachers in schools has not been skills-focused which means that we are not sure if they have those skills required for future building.
Current grooming is majorly focused on different types of teaching methods and the teaching processes prescribed by the academic board. This in general has hindered the overall growth of the school as the current grooming does not empower teacher with the right skills.
In addition to this, schools generally spend close to 70% of their annual operational expenses on teacher salary. If teachers are not groomed on the right skills, they are may not able to bring required proficiency for the investment schools are making in them.
The current grooming that happens in school is not skill-focused. It is more focused on subject matter expertise, teaching methods, practices and processes prevalent in the school and for the academic board. They are all required; no doubt about it. But the result of this limited scope is that the current grooming is not motivating or relevant enough to teachers because it is not mapped to their performance and accountability. It doesn't help in giving relevant feedback to teachers. It is also not mapped to teacher’s salary and recognition. This is one of the biggest reasons why teachers don't generally participate actively in grooming programs. Due to this, despite spending lot of money and efforts, schools don't see the desired results coming out of the grooming programs.
There are certain other reasons why grooming is not effective. Teacher’s age, their experience and cultural exposure in earlier school(s), their attitude towards teaching profession, aptitude, technology awareness, and awareness of their skill gap play a vital role on how effective a grooming program can be for a teacher. Since these aspects are not measured or considered before enrolling a teacher into a grooming program, the programs turn out to be ineffective.
Another reason is that most of the schools use one-size-fit-all-approach. The programs are designed with an assumption that a particular training/grooming is needed to all teachers. But the important aspect to consider here is that teaching-learning is very subjective and human-oriented. It is not a factory environment where most of the employees may need similar set of skills. Since it is a subjective and dynamic environment with a very wide age difference between the students and teachers, everyone’s skills, motivations, needs, and way of working is different. To understand this and then identify the grooming needs, it is required to understand skill profile of each teacher and then only plan grooming for each teacher. If we do not do so, that would waste lot of time, money, and efforts of the school leader, teachers, and the school without any results.
A fear that dominates school leader’s mind and counters grooming efforts is - what if the teachers leave after all this grooming. However, what would be worse is that majority of them stay back without proper grooming and add very little to make the school better. School leaders must be pragmatic to ensure tangible contribution from teachers after their grooming and not to harbor the fear of them leaving.
To make grooming effective, schools need to focus on understanding teachers, where they are coming from, what skill-set they already have, what skill-set they may need, what would motivate them to be ready for grooming, and more importantly what the school needs at this time.
Understanding this and identifying the right skills to groom a teacher require measuring skill profile of teachers. Individual grooming of teachers requires patience, time, money, expertise, and efforts. Moreover, it requires authentic and scientific way of measuring skill profile of each teacher. Unfortunately, due to lack of time this is not happening in the current school system.
Some schools, however, establish the methods to measure such skills or they take a help of external experts to measure a battery of core teaching skills. Such external help, many a times save tremendous human efforts on the part of school. It also frees up time for school leaders to effectively and strategically implement teacher grooming programs.
About the author:
Nikhil Yeruru is psychology major who is working with myNalanda research team. This blog post shares the collective findings of myNalanda research team while working with schools across India. Nikhil is instrumental in designing the assessments and understanding psyche of the teachers and principals. His area of interest lies in understanding human emotions and their role in the work they do and the choices they make.