Our education system, which is one of the oldest in the world, has recently come under the radar about its effectiveness to cater to the 21st century student. The doubts stem from the question: Is our education system able to provide all that today’s students need to excel in academics and ultimately, in their career? Education leaders across the country have expressed their share of opinions regarding the reformation of our education system. From changing the syllabus structure to changing the study environment, different opinions about reform have arisen. And, while there are certainly many opinions being expressed, the one major unanimous concern being expressed by all experts is lack of adequate teacher training! Every professional in this world needs upskilling because every profession changes or undergoes modifications for the betterment of itself. So why aren’t teachers trained regularly? The one profession that shows the path to other professions should receive priority when it comes to training and upskilling, isn’t it?
What is a teacher training program?
Let’s first outline what a teacher training program is. A teacher training program is a program that equips teachers with techniques and modern pedagogy strategies that helps them to better connect with, manage, and teach to their students in a manner which ensures that all students are learning and benefitting. Teacher training programs, when conducted in the right manner and with the right content, have the power to train teachers to such an extent that they go on to positively impact students not just in academics but also outside of it. After the long gap with remote schooling owing to covid restrictions, both students and teachers are facing the consequences of learning loss and teaching loss, respectively. Students have almost completely lost their literacy and numeracy skills and teachers are struggling to get back to their offline routine of teaching. This needs to be sorted early, as it can have consequences both in the short term and long term. The only ones who can help students recover from learning loss are teachers. So training teachers, especially now, is very critical for our education system. Teacher training programs are of different types and forms: There are short term, medium term and long term programs which are conducted online or offline. There is also a holistic teacher training program like StarTeacher which is a combination of the online and offline modes.
Why is teacher training necessary?
Training teachers is necessary in the 21st century mainly because of the fact that current generation students don't comprehend traditional teaching methods. We cannot teach students of today with methods of yesterday. Students in the 21st century need personalisation in education. The Indian education system has been following the habit of seeing the classroom as a whole and not as individual students, which is unfair to the majority of students. Each student is unique in myriad ways including in the way they think, analyse, understand and go about academics. It is therefore important for our existing system to bring in this change. Training teachers to know how to view their students as unique individuals with different learning styles is the game changer. Once teachers understand this and know how to cater to the various learning styles, they will positively impact hundreds and thousands of students.
Teacher training is also more critical now than ever because teachers today are struggling with identifying and filling the learning gaps in students to bring them up to grade level. Plus, they need to complete the current year’s syllabus as well. If there were ever a mammoth task, it is this. Without the right knowledge, tools, and skills, teachers cannot be reasonably expected to navigate these challenges on their own.
Some of the major benefits of teacher training programs:
1) Professional growth
When teachers attend training programs, it gives them the opportunity for continuous professional development - to learn new ways, methods, strategies, skills and tools. When teachers get upskilled they automatically feel confident, happy and motivated to achieve greater things with their students. Confident and happy teachers mean confident and happy students!
2) Better Student Management
As a teacher it is important to know, understand and analyse one’s students effectively. Only then can they know how to teach their students. Teaching 12-year olds cannot and should not be the same as teaching 5-year olds, isn’t it? Teacher training programs help teachers to better understand and therefore, better manage their students.
3) Equips them with modern pedagogy strategies
Through a holistic teacher training program teachers, especially those who have been teaching for many years and therefore not likely to be aware of updated practices and methodologies, learn new methods and techniques which they can implement in the classroom to better educate their students. Not all traditional teaching methods are ineffective. At the same, not all of them are relevant anymore.
4) Builds better relationships with parents
In every school, one of the important predictors of happiness and success is the relationships teachers have with parents. It is important for teaches to cultivate and maintain positive relationships with the parents of the students. A teacher is the one who converses with parents the most during parent-teachers meetings, drop-off and pick-up etc. Better relationship with parents = better satisfaction quotient for the school.
5) Impacts thousands of students indirectly
A teacher training program not just impacts teachers but also students. A single teacher who is upskilled can go on to impact thousands of students. Teachers have a big role to play in nation building because students are the citizens of tomorrow. Imagine then, the impact that can be created by upskilled teachers.
Our education system needs to go from “Is teacher training important?” to “Our teachers MUST be trained regularly!", only then can any other change we bring into our education system really impact students positively.