We all have had one teacher who inspired us to become who we are today and more than one who made us hate many subjects. Teachers have shaped millions of lives. There are many research studies (like this and this) which have established teachers' role in child's learning as one of the most important factor. There's no doubt about the importance of teacher in our education system.
But the harsh reality is that more than 11 lakh teachers are untrained in India and to make matters worse we have shortage a million teachers (source). In old city area of Hyderabad where we have been working for past 5 years, we have seen many teachers who are just 10th or 12th pass. While the teachers are putting incredible amount of hard work (even though they are paid meager salaries), the bitter truth is that the quality of output has been poor. Same rote learning has been going on for generations.
When Vikrant and I started teaching in MA Ideal School, we realized that most of the teachers never had any professional training or up-skill options and hence they taught in class exactly the same way how they were taught as a student. Hence, along with Anwar sir, we started training other teachers in the school.
Things were going good, we started noticing some positive changes. But when neither of us could take sessions for couple of months, we saw teachers struggling again. This made us question our assumptions. We then decided- we don't want our teachers to be dependent on others for knowledge and help. We want our teachers to be independent learners who can captain their own ship of development. The question is how do we do it? The answer we found : Technology.
In our latest learning circle on 10th March'18, we decided to make our teachers come up with their own understanding with minimum lecture from us. With that aim in mind, we got tabs with internet connection and headphones for each teacher.
We put all our content - ppts, videos, sample plans etc on google drive. We then explained the teacher how to use tabs and google drive and gave them freedom to explore on their own. Initially they were a bit overwhelmed but once they got used to the tab, they were engrossed completely.
Not only they saw the videos that we suggested, couple of teachers also explored YouTube and saw other related videos. Once they went through all the materials, they discussed among themselves. With minimum guidance from us, they collectively came up with an shared understanding of the topic (which was on lesson planning). Then they translated the ideas into writing and made excellent charts explaining the concept.
It was really amazing and inspiring to see the teachers work collectively and take ownership of their learning. It has strengthen our believe and made us excited for the road ahead.
As Helen Keller famously said "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." True indeed !