Inservice Professional Development

Overall Goals

To empower teachers to teach the national and State curriculum while facilitating in their students the development of 21st C strengths and skills: the ability to take charge of their own development, to engage meaningfully and successfully in a diverse democracy, a strong academic foundation, problem-solving and application skills, and the requisite character strengths, attitudes and values that characterize engaged citizenship.1

Objectives

  • To provide teachers with the experience of an enabling 21st Century learning environment
  • To help teachers reconceptualize learning outcomes of school education to develop “agency” and “readiness” for the 21st Century world
  • To support teachers in necessary orientations to concepts, range of skills and processes that impact classroom transactions, with the use of technology and innovative delivery methods as an important component
  • To support teachers in creating effective 21st century curriculum for promoting conceptual understanding, developing effective tools for promoting and engaging in creative problem-solving and ideation in a classroom setting and with reference to complex real world problems
  • To support teachers in transacting the developed curriculum in their schools and evaluating its effectiveness
  • To support teachers in continuously and rigorously engaging with their own professional development processes

Approach to Inservice Professional Development

 The goal of Professional Development is to empower teacher educators, teacher mentors and teachers with the knowledge, skills and confidence to transform their own teaching practice and over time to become teacher leaders, able to approach every problem as a challenge, with the attitude of “Yes, we can”, by developing adaptive expertise, “the ability to apply meaningfully-learned knowledge and skills flexibly and creatively in different situations” (Fullan & Hargreaves, 2012)2. The emerging approach to professional development is informed by the understanding that changing classroom practice is a long and arduous process that requires rigor, appropriate and continuous support, a facilitative environment to debate, question and take risks, and above all, consistency of focus and staying-power3.  The strategy would be to help teachers “to act their way into new ways of thinking”. The underlying theory of change posits that “the effective change leader actively participates as a learner in helping the organization improve,” the program of active learning recasts the concept of experiential learning–earlier focused on “activities”, games and simulations–as a process of collaborative, inquiry-based learning to address real, immediate and complex problems, requiring not “input from experts” but dialogue with new ideas, frameworks and perspectives, towards crafting innovative context-specific solutions, which act as performances of understanding of the new knowledge.  Every TFC course for teachers foregrounds complex, real-world problems–international, national, regional, and local–and focuses on creating deep understandings for flexible, creative use in varied situations. And TFC’s Professional Development courses use collaborative learning as both content and process, and technology as both hook and enabler.

This process of Professional Development is generic in many aspects: while the curriculum developed depends on the subject being taught, the understanding of curriculum as a concept and of learning methodologies, of assessment and of classroom management and the creation of a facilitative learning environment, as well as of leadership (teacher leader or student leader) remains constant for all subjects, though overarching “education” concepts might be unpacked and illustrated using subject-specific examples.

Another piece that remains central to all Professional Development has to do with inculcating a social justice orientation and an understanding of engaged citizenship, which we believe is (or should be) the goal of all education. We prioritize a focus on “Learning to Learn” or “Learning for Life” for all learners, regardless of whether they are teachers, teacher mentors or students.  Here we consider 21st Century skills as crucial to building the kind of agency that every individual requires in the modern world. This concept of PD requires that we use and evolve a 21st Century international research-based framework suiting the varied contextual demands during our engagement with participants of our courses.

Core Assumptions3

  • Teachers need a facilitative and enabling environment that provides both resource support and the freedom to take risks.
  • Teachers will welcome and benefit from exposure to new ideas and learning opportunities that have direct relevance to their own concerns.
  • Teachers will value a professional community for dialogue and shared problem solving, in which they can collaboratively develop and trial creative solutions to the complex reality of their current classroom.
  • Active learning opportunities create deep understanding of new knowledge, which is generative, in that it can be used flexibly in a variety of situations.
  • Networks of teacher mentors and teachers at school cluster, block or zone and District levels that function as professional learning communities will be generative in multiple ways, triggering new change initiatives, new partnerships and new networks.
  • At State, District, block and school-cluster level, faculty of resource institutions and education officials who associate with active learning initiatives of teacher mentors and teachers will, if provided support, eventually acquire the requisite attitude, knowledge and skills to mentor and support networks of teachers to become professional learning communities.

Approach to Curriculum Development

The approach to curriculum development is based on the understanding that most teachers have not had the opportunity to develop a deep disciplinary understanding of the subject they are teaching or of the coherence of curricular areas that traverse the whole curriculum from Class VI to Class XII. This deficit in the teacher’s professional development results in a piecemeal approach to the year’s syllabus as a series of stand-alone lesson plans, an approach that sees the “teacher as technician” rather than as creator of new knowledge.

To develop a coherent understanding of the discipline they are teaching and of the curriculum they must transact over 5 years, teachers need to unpack, re-conceptualize and reconstruct the curriculum, making it “their own”, re-organize the course (and text book) and reformulate the learning objectives so that they understand how to help students deepen and broaden subject knowledge over the years. Thus, the General Learning Objectives (GLOs) of an overarching topic such as “Democracy” in Social Science would be divided into inter-disciplinary units–across the years (VI to X) and across Social Science subjects (History, Geography, Political Science, Economics, Sociology)—with Specific Learning Objectives that dovetail into the GLOs.  In this understanding of curriculum, teachers would design entire Units rather than single lessons, make connections across units, grade levels and subjects to facilitate a coherent understanding not only of the entire curriculum but simultaneously make sense of the world they and their students live in, and further, would help students create new knowledge themselves, as they develop and extend such connections across subjects and time-periods to create deep and enduring interdisciplinary understandings.

Course Design

Courses encompass a series of complete learning cycles, each comprised of three cyclic processes: workshop engagement, school-classroom engagement and collaborative reflection. While the number of days has been fixed to ensure teachers experience a complete learning cycle, with rigorous and consistent collaborative engagement, modalities and timeline can be adjusted in dialogue with the teachers and the school’s or school system’s officials.

Overall Goals

To empower teacher leaders and teachers to reconceptualize 21st C learning outcomes for engaged citizenship. and to take charge of their own development to deliberately cultivate the knowledge, skills and dispositions to engage meaningfully and successfully with the development of diverse learners in the school system.

Objectives

  • To facilitate an understanding of the big picture of education in India in the context of a rapidly modernizing global economy
  • To support teacher leaders and teachers in necessary orientations to curricular concepts, range of skills and processes that impact learning, with the use of technology and innovative delivery methods as an important component
  • To provide teacher leaders and teachers with the experience of an enabling 21st Century learning environment
  • To support teacher leaders and teachers in creating effective 21st century curriculum for promoting conceptual understanding, developing effective tools for promoting and engaging in creative problem-solving and ideation in a classroom setting, and with reference to complex real world problems
  • To support teacher leaders and teachers in supporting groups of teachers to develop and transact 21st C curriculum in their classrooms and evaluate its effectiveness
  • To support teacher leaders and teachers in continuously and rigorously engaging with their own professional development processes
  • To facilitate the development and nurturing of web-enabled teacher networks for shared problem-solving, lateral learning and collaborative curriculum development for ongoing improvement of practice.

Expected Outputs

  1. Development of a portfolio of contextually relevant curricular units for school readiness, for 21st century capacities
  2. A growing knowledge bank of examples of excellent student work, high quality teaching resources and videos of best practice in the Indian school context
  3. Creation of a web-enabled platform for continuous professional dialogue, for collaboration, shared problem-solving and lateral learning, including sharing of ideas, reflective practices and innovative solutions to complex problems with no ready answers and for ongoing inter- and intra-zonal professional dialogue
  4. Use of technology to collaborate and share created ideas, continuous professional dialogue and reflective practices, innovative solutions to complex problems with no ready answers
  5. Documentation of process of trialing and refinement of curriculum.

Expected Outcomes

  1. Development of core capacities and improved learning outcomes of students, improved Board results, increased percentage of students seeking and gaining college admission, increased percentage of students seeking vocational and entrepreneurial opportunities.
  2. Increased numbers of classrooms with 21st Century learning environments, contextualization and use of high-quality education resources and “cool” teaching learning tools and processes
  3. Continuous creation of innovative, contextual, relevant education materials to improve classroom practice and student learning
  4. Development of key attributes and capacities to lead curriculum and professional development programs including evaluating its effectiveness and strengthening it further
  5. Generation and expansion of networked professional communities and continuous process of collaborative learning

Endnotes

  1. TFC believes the goal of school education must be to equip students with the core knowledge, strengths and skills that enable them to take charge of their own lives as they complete school and venture out to work-places or college, and to empower them to engage meaningfully and productively with the communities of which they are a part. This “readiness” to participate, with self-efficacy and agency, in the world around them represents the essence of “engaged citizenship,” and constitutes the spirit of the Right to Education for every Indian student.
  2. Hargreaves, A & Fullan, M. Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. (2012). New York, NY
  3. “A school that’s in deep trouble is going to take years to change, and it has to be a continuous process with continuous supports…it can’t be one person, but a group of people who are dedicated enough to stay with something for a long period of time” (Jack Jenning, President, Center for Educational Policy, Jan 25, 2012 cited in The Making of the Principal. Wallace Foundation, 2012).