Dr Arun Prakash
Mentorship and Teacher Development: In the summer of 1988, a new chapter unfolded as I entered the gates of Delhi Public School (DPS), Korba—an educational haven brimming with potential. The sprawling campus, adorned with all the necessary facilities, stood as a canvas waiting to be painted by the vibrant hues of a academic year. Little did I know that this journey would transcend the conventional, unravelling the intricate dance of mentorship and teacher development.
Navigating Uncharted Territory: As a fresh addition to the teaching fraternity, my journey commenced with the echoes of anticipation reverberating through the corridors of DPS Korba. My schooling from village primary and small-town secondary schools seemed like distant echoes in this elite institution. The assumption that my experiences, even at the university level, would effortlessly translate into this setting proved to be my initial misstep.
The diverse student body, ranging from university-level to middle and high school, demanded a recalibration of approach. It was a revelation—the key to effective learning lay not just in imparting knowledge but in understanding and building trust with students. Unlike the familiarity of university lectures, here, a personal connection became the linchpin for success.
Teaching, I soon discovered, is a delicate choreography—simple yet intricate, akin to the art of “careless shown carefully.” To appear effortless demanded more than subject expertise; it required thorough preparation, unwavering commitment, and boundless dedication. In this rapidly evolving world, where new ideas continually sprout, the beacon guiding effective teaching became evident—continuous mentorship.
Mentorship: A Tapestry of Wisdom and Tradition: The need for mentorship mirrors the age-old practice of gathering around elders in a community. In the evolving landscape of education, the essence of mentorship remains paramount. Modern-day educators, armed with theoretical knowledge but often lacking practical experience, find a compass in mentorship.
In a profession where anyone can choose to teach, mentorship emerges as the indispensable guide. Traditional teacher training, sometimes falling short on practical insights, finds a complement in a system of mentoring and shadowing seasoned educators. This holistic approach ensures that new teachers not only grasp theoretical nuances but also imbibe the subtleties of classroom dynamics, school culture, and effective teaching methods.
Challenges in the Educational Tapestry: However, the educational tapestry of India is not without its challenges. Mandatory teacher training often results in educators entering classrooms armed with theoretical knowledge but minimal practical experience. In-service workshops, though beneficial, tend to focus heavily on theoretical aspects, leaving the crucial “how-to” questions unanswered. The absence of a robust mechanism to evaluate the long-term impact of such training further exacerbates the issue.
The Guiding Light: Dr. B Singh Sir: Reflecting on the early days within the hallowed halls of DPS Korba, a significant figure emerged—the mentor, our principal Dr. B Singh Sir. His influence went beyond the traditional role of a principal; he was a guiding force, a mentor, and a seasoned colleague. Dr. B Singh Sir’s wisdom and support were not just professional; they extended to understanding the personal journey of each teacher.
The reciprocal relationship inherent in mentorship, where both mentor and mentee gain valuable insights, became the heartbeat of effective teaching. Dr. B Singh Sir’s influence transformed the corridors of DPS Korba from mere passageways to conduits of wisdom and growth.
Competency-Based Teaching: A Clarion Call: In interaction with teachers from renowned schools, the gap between theoretical knowledge and its practical application became evident. Despite an impressive list of in-house and external training sessions, the translation of acquired knowledge into effective teaching strategies remained a challenge for many educators.
A specific concern surfaced during these interactions—competency-based teaching. While teachers were cognizant of competency-based questions in assessments, the practical application of competency-based teaching strategies was elusive. Competency-based teaching, focusing on skill development over rote knowledge, demands a nuanced approach encompassing clear learning outcomes, student-cantered learning, competency assessment, feedback, individualized learning paths, real-world application, and a lifelong learning orientation. Competency based evaluation is followed with distinct absence of competency-based teaching and learning.
The disconnection between awareness of competency-based questions and the practical implementation of teaching methods underscored the vital need for ongoing mentorship and teacher development.
Teacher Development: Trainings, workshops, case studies may lead to teacher development. While teacher training can contribute to teacher development, the two are not synonymous, and the results of teacher training do not always guarantee sustained or comprehensive teacher development. The relationship between teacher training and teacher development is complex and influenced by various factors. Here are some considerations:
- Scope of Training: If teacher training is narrowly focused on specific skills or methods without considering the broader context of teaching and learning, it may not lead to holistic teacher development. Comprehensive training programs that address a range of pedagogical, content, and classroom management skills are more likely to contribute to ongoing development.
- Application of Learning: The effectiveness of teacher training often depends on how well teachers can apply what they have learned in real classroom settings. If the training is not followed by opportunities for practical application and reflection, its impact on development may be limited.
- Supportive Environment: Teacher development is influenced by the overall school culture and support systems. Teachers need a supportive environment that encourages continuous learning, collaboration, and reflective practices. If the school lacks such a culture, the impact of training may be diminished.
- Individual Motivation and Initiative: Teacher development is not solely dependent on formal training programs; it also relies on teachers’ individual motivation and initiative. Teachers who actively seek opportunities for professional growth, engage in self-directed learning, and participate in communities of practice are more likely to experience ongoing development.
- Feedback and Reflection: Effective teacher development involves feedback and reflective practices. Teachers need mechanisms for receiving constructive feedback on their teaching, reflecting on their experiences, and adjusting their practices accordingly. If post-training support and reflection are lacking, the long-term impact may be limited.
- Evolution of Education Landscape: The education landscape is dynamic, with new pedagogical approaches, technologies, and research emerging. Effective teacher development acknowledges the evolving nature of education and encourages teachers to stay current with the latest developments in the field.
A Symphony of Mentorship: In the symphony of education, mentorship emerges as the guiding light, illuminating the path for both novice and experienced educators. The collaborative relationship between mentor and mentee fosters a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and adaptability.
As the educational landscape evolves, the importance of mentorship and ongoing teacher development cannot be overstated. It’s not just about knowing what to teach; it’s about understanding how to teach effectively, bridging the gap between theory and practice. In the spirit of nurturing the next generation, let mentorship be the cornerstone that elevates the quality of education and empowers educators to unlock the full potential of every student.