Good educators evolving into GREAT ones!

Good educators evolving into great ones!

Ms. Ashu John, Principal, St. Mary’s Christian School, Sahibabad, GzB

These are indeed times of extraordinary transformation.  Everything around us is transforming, turning challenges into opportunities, to exhibit our resilience, courage, hopefulness, and the indomitable spirit to aim towards an improved and better future.

The Education sector is one of the many segments that made a much-needed transition with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. It gave teachers, or must I say our Educational Superheroes a platform, to display their commitment towards the absolute best of our dear students.  Their willingness and readiness to learn and transition into tech-savvy online educators has been inspiring and encouraging to millions of children and families across the globe every day.

Kudos to them!

Being an educator in the 21st Century is for sure a multifaceted profession and in-fact requires super powers for becoming an Educational Superhero!

Teachers are no longer merely instructing or lecturing students, but rather offering each child an inclusive, rewarding, and unique learning experience.

With the advent of Blended Learning 2.0, our good educators can be transitioned into great ones only by ensuring their continuous professional development.

What does Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for educators mean?

Well, an effective CPD is

(a) focused on their real work and real challenges.

(b) provides them with opportunities to make choices about their own learning.

(c) adds happiness in teaching-learning modules in the class.

(d) contributes to building a professional culture of collaborative learning.

(e) develops teacher leadership.

(f) is continuously assessed.

(g) is driven by a vision of the 21st century classroom and most essentially.

(h) should be teacher centered.

Why is CPD imperative?

Its high time that we recognized that teachers, like their students, are unique in how they learn. CPD provides teachers with the same high-quality inclusive learning opportunities that students receive. It is also important to provide teachers with ongoing support to implement and internalize what they have learnt. As a part of CPD, teacher learning like student learning moves teachers along a continuum of higher-level thinking and finally reiterates that teachers, like their students, learn best as part of a community.

What are the typical modes of Continuous Professional Development?

During this Pandemic it has indeed become a challenge to address CPD effectively. But, as the famous proverb goes, Where there is a will, there is a way. Here are some ways which we can use to carry out effective CPD even from the other side of the screen.

  • Involving educators in individual reading/study/research.
  •  Observation: educators observing other educators’ online teaching sessions for constructive feedback and takeaway.
  •  Coaching and Mentoring: experienced educators hand holding their colleagues.
  •  Virtual meetings for faculty to plan lessons, troubleshooting, improve performance, and/or learn a new strategy.
  •  Online courses to reskill and upskill whenever a need arises.
  •  Online workshops to dig deeper into a subject.
  •  Participating in conferences to learn from a variety of expertise from around the state or country.
  •  Whole-school improvement programs.
  •  Study groups among educators focused on a shared need or topic.
Ashu John is an educational and community leader cum entrepreneur involved in leadership and training roles in the educational and social sector since 2003. Ashu emphasizes on designing and implementing educational and community outreach programs in the areas of  women empowerment and gender equality.
Fueled by her passion to work for global and social issues, she founded the Ahaan Foundation in 2017, an international non-profit organization working vigorously towards empowering women, promoting gender equality and endeavouring towards UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030. She also co-chairs Shobha Women’s Club in India that works towards the upliftment of under privileged women.
Ashu works with women to build upon their strengths and bring about personality enhancement, improve mental health and wellness, build effective communication and conflict resolution skills, including positive parenting, child safety and security etc.
As the Principal of an English medium, K -12 educational institution in Delhi-NCR, India, Ashu employs metacognitive and experiential approach to facilitate educators and pupils in the learning sphere. Her facilitation techniques connect the practices of ingenuity and leadership towards individual, team and organizational success and grow
She is also a CBSE trainer, curriculum developer and experiential instruction specialist, enthusiastically involved in developing new curricula or improvising existing curricula at school level. Incubation and illumination are few of the learning tools she incorporates to assist educators and pupils to increase their effectiveness and to make them reach to their full potential. She believes in divergent thinking as an important tool to do things differently and achieve the desired results in a world of change and complexity.
In addition to a Masters in English, two Bachelors (Education and English), and a certificate in  Leadership Development & Coaching from Regina, Canada, she has numerous scholarships, awards, and gold medals to her credit.
Ashu is known for her clear vision, exemplary leadership qualities, efficient training style, exceptional time-management skills and strong desire to help others grow to give their best. Her passion for carving a niche in the field of education, training and personal development keeps her dedication and commitment going forward to build a happier and empowered society.

However, the path of transitioning into a 21st Century Educator is not a cakewalk! There would certainly be challenges and obstacles enroute like the ones below

  • The selected program of CPD might not be as relevant in present scenario of online learning
  • Improperly qualified teacher trainers
  • Prevalence of low-quality training institutions and outdated teacher education programmes
  • Training schedules often conflict with educators’ work schedule
  • Good training programs mostly turn out to be too expensive
  • Neglecting individual learning differences while training the Educators
  • Inadequate attention by universities towards Educators’ CPD

Nevertheless, these challenges should not deter us from the path of transitioning into 21st Century Educators. So, what needs to be done?

  • We can start by practicing perseverance towards CPD.
  • Increasing Educators’ participation in training programs.
  • Ensuring availability of a variety of CPD courses.
  • Making the training programs flexible with online/offline options available.
  • Working in close connection with innovative platforms like the Centre of Excellence, CBSE.
  • Creating a specific school-based CPD Program.
  • Evaluating the needs and priorities of teachers’ training accurately.
  • Designing and delivering qualitative training programs.
  • Measuring and reflecting upon the impact of the CPD in a classroom setting and students’ achievement.

While talking about CPD how we can ignore what teachers want in their Professional Development to ensure its effectiveness.

Being involved with the education sector since last 20 years, I believe educators want a CPD that—

  • should be relevant for their students.
  • should be readily usable.
  • should be conducted by experts who have classroom experience as well.
  • should be innovative and creative.
  • should be practical, not theoretical.
  • should allow them to collaborate and work in groups.
  • should make them better educators.

In a nutshell, they want a voice and a choice in the CPD catering to their individual needs.

To conclude, I would like to quote,Creating conducive conditions for teachers to teach and teach well is a crucial factor for greater student learning and achievement. (Darling-Hammond, 2000).

Undoubtedly, an effective, engaging, and relevant professional development experience can help educators provide all students with experiences that lead to greater learning and achievement because when adults and children in schools learn and grow together, they create positive school cultures and committed learning communities.