The National Education Policy 2020 released this year requires teachers and school leaders “to learn the latest innovations and advances in their profession.” Ekya places emphasis on conceptual understanding, integration of technology for learning and professional practices, and student projects that result in their thoughtful response to real-world problems:
Most people choose teaching as a career unaware of the myriad complexities that mark this profession. Indeed, it is the only line of work where it is expected that one single individual on a day to day basis would address the needs of hundred other individuals of varied ages, socio-economic backgrounds, interests, and motivation, all in one sitting.
Certainly, teachers need a tremendous amount of support and as like the earlier times, the New Education Policy 2020, continues to reiterate enabling teachers and school leaders “to learn the latest innovations and advances in their profession esp. content, pedagogy and skills essential to teach, to lead or to manage. It proposes workshops, online modules, and online platforms as modes for learning, sharing of ideas, best practices, and engaging in self-improvement activities as per one’s own interests”.
Where do we stand in these twin backgrounds of expectations and proposed national guidelines?
I feel happy to share that Ekya has long recognized the various challenges that surmount a teacher’s life and has thus committed itself in supporting them in their career trajectories. Capacity building initiatives at Ekya resonate well with the new policy guidelines as they set on creating spaces for learning, unlearning, relearning, reflecting on learning, and developing oneself on a continuous basis.
The Professional Development Institute (PDI) plans and implements such programs not only for teachers but also for school administrators i.e. the Coordinators and School Heads, throughout the year. At the heart of these initiatives is the vision for developing ‘self’ as adults in order to ‘lead students’ to develop themselves. Indeed, teachers have the power to influence students and make a difference in their lives by way of contributing in their process of thinking or styles of working. And, it is through these programs that we are able to support teachers to reach out to many students in an effective way.
How do we do this?
“Workshops” both faces to face and online are integral to Ekya’s workplace education. Each academic year begins with a month-long “Orientation Program” both for new as well as returning teachers and school leaders. It aims at enabling all to revisit curriculum, instruction, assessments, resources, and environment of learning; and prepare oneself vigorously to inspire students for learning. This is the space for teachers to think, ask questions on curricula or professional practice, and engage deeply with emerging ideas in educational research and practice. Topics in these sessions are beyond mastery of a set of techniques for ‘eliciting’ desired student responses and information transfer. They encompass a holistic view of how students need to learn not just math or arts but also age-appropriate behaviors or value systems.
As teachers start putting these ideas to practice and as the school leadership along with them begins to feel its impact, newer concepts are introduced with another set of sessions in a phased manner throughout the year. Thus, areas that became a part of “Ongoing Workshops” for educators this year after the annual orientations included – the Flipped Classroom Approach, Tech-Free Instructional Strategies and Learning Area Tools, Wellbeing and Actionable Feedback, to name a few.
“Self-Paced Learning” – is another set of opportunities for educators to strengthen their disciplinary content knowledge and specific skills. These are facilitated online through a learning management system comprising researched-based resources from leading educational institutions all over the world. This is the time for self-study, practicing concepts with assignments, and collaborating with peers by posting their own thoughts and acknowledging the views of others. Educators at Ekya not only work on these during the year but also carry these forward in summer breaks by choosing areas of study that match their interests and requirements.
“The Learning Festival”- is a culminating PD day that celebrates teachers’ hard work and passion that they put in planning and implementing varied learning experiences for their students. Thinking along the lines of an action researcher, teachers share a problem or a challenge they noticed in their class and describe how they overcame that with specific strategies resulting in positive outcomes. This sharing not only reiterates teachers’ beliefs in self-motivated efforts but also enables peer learning with cross sharing of ideas and practices that worked.
What is the effect?
There are multiple pathways to learn and learning is not confined to attending mandatory sessions planned in an academic year. Participation in PDs is beyond marking attendance, and encompasses intense engagement in the learning process – thinking, reflecting, sharing experiences, interacting with others, active listening, critiquing, asking deep questions and challenging one’s own thought processes. Similarly, education is not about gathering degrees but is a lifelong process of inquiry that requires looking back at one’s acquired disciplinary content knowledge and keeping oneself up to date with concepts and skills essential in today’s time.
There is a strong relationship between teacher learning and student effectiveness. If teachers have the understanding of how children learn, they can work skillfully with a wide range of learners. If teachers are passionate about their subjects, they can make their students enthusiastic about their use in the real world. If teachers take charge of their own learning, they pave the way for students to be independent and responsible learners.
These are our aspirations for our educators and these drive our PD initiatives too. Success in any endeavor like these comes only when people are involved whole heartedly. Indeed as is seen, educators at Ekya try their best to not miss participation in varied learning opportunities, and also apply gained understanding in their interactions with students. And, it is this silent contribution among other things, that is providing our PDs deeper meaning and sustainability day by day.
Introduction to the Series
The New Education Policy 2020 envisions a society high on social, economic, and scientific indicators with one key resource i.e. ‘its people’. It shows the possibility of tackling social and natural concerns with a renewed focus on education that is multi-disciplinary, skill-based, and liberal in nature. It envisions nurturing students who not only diligently acquire greater capacities for an independent life for themselves but are equally concerned about the lives of fellow human beings.
Ekya upholds each idea of NEP strongly and relates well with its philosophical and curricular strands. Much before the policy was drafted; it has been implementing many of its stated features such as- its instructional program that emphasizes conceptual understanding and not mere information accumulation; integration of technology for learning and professional practices and projects for student projects that result in their thoughtful response to real-world problems.
To disseminate many of these aspects with you and gain from your views as well, a series of blogs have been put together by various members of Ekya and CMR – K12 schools. We are happy to share with you the first part of this NEP blog series today.
About the author
Priya Iyer holds an academic background in Psychology and Education and is associated with the education sector for more than two decades. This journey of hers has been a combination of teaching and research both in school and higher education institutions. She started her career with an NGO as a teacher, a school leader; pursued research work at Oberlin and Claremont McKenna College, USA and later, a field study at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada. As a faculty at Azim Premji University, she taught a course on School Leadership and Management to post graduate students and worked extensively with the Foundation’s initiatives on Pre-Service Education. As a UNICEF Consultant, Priya supported government efforts in implementing a program on education leadership that drives student learning outcomes. Currently, Priya Iyer supports concept, design and facilitation of capacity building programs at Ekya and CMR- K-12 Schools as well as CMR University as a member of the Professional Development Institute