The effective form of teacher training

Teacher training is the mantra of all educationists. Numerous training programmes are run throughout the country every year, where thousands of teachers participate. Evidence suggests that these aren't effective. These are some times also interpreted as, teacher training isn't necessary, confusing theme of teacher training with the product, the way it is delivered. I call this as intra-hypothesis validity and blogged about this earlier here.

Teacher training is only a label. It can have several forms depending on the content, focus and delivery.

  1. Evocative coaching: This form of training aims to improve the motivation levels of teachers, reignite the passion for teaching, by talking through their problems, hearing them out and responding accordingly.

  2. Pedagogy: This includes ways of teaching a particular concept, accompanied by focus on the underlying philosophy. For example, peer group learning. A mere training on moralities of teaching a concept forming groups of peers, and encouraging learning isn't enough. The teacher should also have the belief that children can learn from each other.

  3. Understanding how children think: One of the important problems with most of our teachers is that they aren't trained to observe, how children think. All incorrect answers are put under one category, mistakes. However, the reason for doing something incorrectly differs from child to child. This form of training includes training teacher on doing granular diagnosis and accordingly giving customized treatment.

  4. Dislodging prejudices: Some teachers are known to have prejudices that students of certain gender, caste and income groups are inherently less capable of learning. This affects their approach towards teaching and their efforts too. A form of teacher training should dislodge such beliefs. The advancements of Implicit Association Tests (IAT) is of great help here to identify such prejudices.
  5. Addressing emotional needs of children: The poverty and the conditions in house affect the child mentally. A child, whose parents lost their livelihood due to some unfortunate incident, isn't likely to concentrate like other students in class. New teachers aren't trained to identify and address such situations, where emotional and mental support is needed. Some teachers pick this up with experience.
Ideally speaking, we should try to do all these forms of training programmes but which of these is the most effective in Indian context?

My vote goes for the first, evocative coaching. This isn't based on any rigorous evidence but a deduction from my understanding, which of course might be a result of my biases. The first form of training is different from the others in the sense that, if a teacher trained in other four forms, the knowledge and skill of the teacher might develop, but in order to see this reflected in their classroom, there is still a last mile gap - motivation and commitment, the other form of governance capacity. The first form deals precisely with this. It doesn't have any last mile gaps and is directly reflected in classroom teaching.

This isn't to mean that the other forms of training are unnecessary but working on first form of teaching might have huge spillovers. It will put the existing skills and knowledge of teachers regarding other forms, to use. Further training on these four forms might be still required though.

I believe, this makes a strong case for an RCT. The learnings from this will be of great  value!

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