Growing up as a young student, I did not enjoy reading books, I just did not have the focus to finish any ‘meaningful’ book. The exception to reading was comic books like Tintin or Tinkle, which had a lot of images and graphics, which made the reading experience exciting for me. Everyone around me made me feel like there was something wrong with me as I did not read ‘meaningful’ books. On the other hand, I loved watching TV and films, I could sit through a 5-day cricket match with intense concentration. Access to the internet during my high school and college days gave me access to visual information, which I loved consuming. I enjoyed music and listening to the never-ending jabber of the RJs, but none of those mediums were considered ‘meaningful’. Over the years, I grew up believing that I was not as knowledgeable as my sister or other friends who were voracious readers.
Things changed dramatically when I started working with schools while still in college. I got introduced to the concept of Learning Styles, this is when I realized that there was nothing wrong with me, I was just a Visual Learner. In fact majority of people on our planet are visual learners, I was part of the majority and not the odd one out. I sought opportunities to learn visually and discovered the world of YouTube and Google. I went back to watching films and documentaries that were not just entertainment but had more depth to them. My learning journey has been phenomenal, I get to learn almost anything I need through the visual or the audio medium.
While most schools are cognizant of the fact that students have changed and are trying to introduce more interactive learning methodologies for them, the Teacher Development programs remain largely old-school. Today's Teachers have been exposed to visual content and media from a very early age. Teachers like to learn more through audio and visual mediums than other mediums. Schools need to be very cognitive of this while designing teacher learning and development programs. Schools should use the wonderful platforms out there that provide amazing learning content – TED Talks, Khan Academy, Coursera, National Geographic, ASCD, EdSurge, Educause and the list continues. Audiobooks and Podcasts are a big trend today; there are so many to choose from.
We need to reinvent the idea of teacher training. In my experience, the best way to communicate with teachers is through – films, documentaries, hands-on activities, storytelling, experience sharing, music, etc. Teacher development programs must be designed similarly to how we plan for students today. Learning programs spread through the year and not just crammed into 2 days, byte sized content, short burst of activities, gamified and incentivized modules all go a long way in teacher development. The corporate world developed the concept of LMS for Knowledge Transfer and Upskilling, schools must use an effective online platform to track and map teachers' learning outcomes.
As you wrap up the present academic year and plan the next, be mindful of the fact that your biggest resource is the Teacher, and you need to design your school systems and processes to suit them. Create a culture of constant upskilling and learning for teachers to remain relevant.