Broadening teachers’ skills is not just about assisting them with change; it is also about continually updating their professional knowledge about teaching practices, says RISHABH KHANNA
The traditional teacher training programmes and course work have failed to prepare teachers for the 21st century. Left with no choice, our teachers are dependent on on-the-job learning. The absence of skills or gap between education and demands of a teacher’s job profile continues to a big obstacle facing a teacher's career. This is the major reason why teaching has become the last career choice. From being inaccessible to inadequate and outdated, teacher education continues to be a popular topic of debate among academicians and curriculum experts.
If teachers want to get high paying jobs, explore career opportunities and get international qualifications and certifications, upgrading their skills is the key.
The changes in the demand for skills from students continues to have profound implications for the competencies which teachers need to acquire to effectively teach these skills to their students. We are not living in an era when teaching a fixed syllabus of content was at the centre of education. Today, the jobs are changing and so are the expectations from teachers. Teachers are expected to follow differentiated pedagogical practices. Unlike the curriculum cantered education approach, today, focus is on learner.
We can say that the kind of education needed and taught today requires teachers to constantly advance their professional knowledge and skills. Teachers need to stay updated with the advancements in different fields, skills in demand, future of work and potential careers for students. They are required to be agents of innovation because innovation is critically important for generating new sources of growth through improved productivity and efficiency.
In order to be most effective, learning environments should ensure that learning is social and often collaborative; be highly attuned to students’ motivations; make learning central and encourage engagement; be acutely sensitive to individual differences, and promote connections across activities and subjects, both in and out of school. A 21st Century teaching professional is expected to have passion, strive to improve, be ethical, value professionalism, aim for high standards, have enquiring nature, a quest for learning and be adaptive and resilient. They need to have people management skills, facilitative skills, technological skills, pedagogical skills, reflective skill and thinking dispositions, communication skills, innovation skills and social and emotional intelligence.
Online learning was already on the rise even if we don’t take the pandemic effect into account and it is expected to popularise more among learners. The pandemic has triggered the behavioural change. Upskilling the teachers is of utmost importance to guide them on best practices when it comes to online teaching methods.
The issue of upskilling teachers is both complex and multi-dimensional. A central foundation for improving teaching is a deep understanding of advancements in learning and its prospects. How children learn has transformed greatly over the past years, however, it has not had a profound impact on teacher practice as majority of teachers continue to interpret new ideas through established beliefs.