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Beyond The Frontiers of Teaching

The NEP 2020 reiterates that the teacher is at the "centre of fundamental reforms in Education." The teacher must be the trailblazer for any reform. School effectiveness depends on student achievement, achievable only through the professional growth of teachers.

Do teachers regard teaching as their profession? 

A profession requires people to have a set of skills and knowledge in their field. It demands a higher standard of training and education, alongside work ethics and a code of conduct. Public status and the quality of practice are directly aligned with the regulations laid out in an organization providing service to society. Education is an industry that serves society. So, the question now is, is teaching a profession or a service?

How is teaching different from other professions? 

A teacher is known by various names: guru, mentor, caregiver, counsellor, guide, coach, motivator, event planner, architect. However, teaching as a profession goes beyond these nomenclatures. Over the past few years, teaching has extended beyond these roles within school buildings. Globally, teaching standards are rising, with a focus on the professional development of the person called a teacher. Quality teaching is a prime focus worldwide. Indicators of successful teaching are well-defined. The effectiveness of skills and strategies has rubrics worked upon by various institutes and organizations. Professional competence is the new norm. Merely completing a B.Ed does not make one a teacher; a different skill set is necessary, with commitment and patience at the forefront and knowledge and teaching strategies in the middle. Teachers are members of learning communities for sustainable nation-building. Digital learning is now integral to the teaching-learning process, so it cannot be considered a separate entity from teaching ability. The teaching profession now includes digital literacy. The tech revolution in education is forging a new frontier, bringing a paradigm shift in the educator's world. There are parameters of growth.

Why do teachers need professional growth? 

It is not just a need; it is the cornerstone of any sustainable system, especially in education. The teaching profession faces a shortage of teachers in a country like ours, where the workforce is the largest. While education is mainly an organized sector, the percentage of fallout is more than the intake. Ambitious teachers seek professional growth, but for many, it's merely staying busy until they get a bigger opportunity. The B.Ed degree is just the first step; skill sets need practice and honing. The mandated training hours that boards lay down are not professional growth opportunities. Bloom's hierarchy of learning and the teaching model must reach the Create Stage in the teaching profession. Fostering a learning mindset is equally important. School leaders should identify leaders and ensure these teachers take charge of their learning journey. This growth goes beyond traditional workshops and seminars. Help them connect globally and allow them to adopt teaching strategies from peers. The micromanagement of teachers denies them the freedom to explore, express, and evaluate their potential. 

Career progression is intrinsic to any good institution and should be intrinsic to each teacher’s overall skills and performance, edifying the school's standard. Encourage teachers to read and share learnings through peer teaching to ensure every team member is happy being part of someone’s growth. Growth is a dynamic process that cannot be a formality; it is self-driven but needs a foundation stone laid by the leader. Engaging with various media, from books to podcasts, and supplements of formal learning like online structured workshops should be open to enthusiastic learners. These may not be organized, but they enrich the knowledge base. 

The mushrooming of schools in remote areas with most clientele from uneducated backgrounds makes the initiation of professional growth among teachers challenging. A good teacher is not the norm there; rather, they are just another teacher the school needs. Professional growth is a far-fetched term for such schools. An edu-leader has yet to define the path for career progression and professional growth for teachers there. This is a wake-up call for all edu-leaders to get going and do some work for this. Like in very good schools here too, learning needs must be identified, gauged through feedback from coordinators, students, and peers. Official recognition and acknowledgement of potentially good work must be done in all schools. For professional growth, collaboration with peers, involving parents, and engaging with a wider community are pivotal. A robust effective education system needs to be built, and a sense of self-esteem and an urge to grow should be built from within. 

The old adage: "Once a teacher, always a teacher" needs to be redefined to once a teacher, next a leader, then a mentor, a dean, and a guide, and above all, an educator for life. May the teaching community thrive!

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