How to Prepare A Reflective Teacher? — Needed Reforms in Teacher Education Continuum* : Indian Journal of Teacher Education

                                Mohd. Akhtar Siddiqui
                               D.K. Bhattacharjee
*Based on M.B. Buch Memorial Lecture 2009 delivered by Prof. Mohd. Akhtar Siddiqui at Centre of Advanced Studies in Education, M.S. University, Baroda

Besides examining the key question on how to prepare a reflective teacher, this contribution makes a critical analysis of the challenges that confront teacher education today and suggests, among other things, the need for setting up of professional development centres in each district to conduct continuing in-service programmes for teachers round the year through face-to-face as well as distance modes.


Introduction
‘In a world of science and technology, it is education that determines the level of prosperity, welfare and security of the people’. This is not a mere statement of faith in education as expressed by the Education Commission (1964-66) but a very well proven truth as well. Many nations even with poverty and sparse resources at their disposal with such kind of faith in education invested their resources for educating the people on priority and through education succeeded in overcoming the evils of mass poverty and ignorance. In Asia perhaps the best and earliest example was of Japan which during the mid-19th Century suffered a lot due to poverty and under-nourishment. But during the Meiji restoration in 1860s, it decided to invest on universal literacy and public health for its people and successfully achieved the twin Utopian goals by the dawn of next century which laid a clear trajectory of the bright destiny of Japan.
We know that Japan is not endowed with any natural resources except human beings and that its land area to the extent of 86% is also covered with uncultivable and almost resourceless mountains. Besides these limitations, Japan was one of the worst sufferers in the World War II. Despite all these odds, after the world war, Japan was able to quickly recover and restore its lost economic strength. What made Japan to recover so quickly and stand up shoulder to shoulder in the comity of most developed nations of the world is its early realization that prosperity and welfare of its people lie in educating them all on utmost priority and with equity. They acted fast on this principle much before A.N. Whitehead’s words of wisdom warned the nations of the world that ‘in the modern world the rule is absolute – any nation which does not value trained intelligence is doomed’. Similar is the story of education-based strides made by many other nations. It is this experience across the world that made the Kothari Education Commission begin its report with the visionary statement that ‘the destiny of India is being shaped in her classrooms’. The Commission also asserted that ‘this, they believe, is no mere rhetoric’. As the time passed by, everyone witnessed this belief turning into a concrete reality in terms of socio-economic and political development that has been experienced by Indian people steadily during the last six decades. It is the educational or technological feat that has lifted the status of Indian economy to the level that it is now ready to join the ranks of developed nations of the world. Of course in the process it is yet to address fully the issue of equity and reverse the yawning disparity between the haves and have-nots. This issue can also be addressed effectively if our children are facilitated to join a common classroom, a common school system imparting quality education.
Kothari’s symbolic classrooms embrace all sites of learning for children. The gravitational centre in these classrooms, despite all kinds of technological developments, remains to be the teacher who, unlike an ordinary worker, acts as a master craftsman, an artist, a strategist and a powerful motivator. The environs of a classroom are enlivened by the inspiring, dynamic, enthusiastic, encouraging, skillful and dedicated teacher. It is he who shapes the destiny of students and that of the future citizens who eventually shape the destiny of the country. Such a teacher only can successfully inculcate among children values that strengthen the ideals of social justice, equity, secularism and pluralism. We may enumerate many such attributes of such a teacher. However, defining what makes one a good teacher is difficult. Knowing how to prepare a good teacher is the subject of much debate. Different models of teacher preparation and development exist. From the point of view of knowledge base and nature of teacher preparation and his practice, teaching is now commonly accepted as a profession and teacher as a professional. By its very definition, a professional, including a teacher, is a lifelong learner because of his association with scientific knowledge which keeps growing and so opportunities have to be afforded to ensure that he keeps learning and developing throughout his professional life. This is precisely the responsibility of teacher education system which is more than a mere combination of two of its major components, i.e., initial teacher preparation and in-service education. Professional preparation and professional development of teachers is a continuous process. It begins with the selection of an aspirant teacher and includes his initial preparation, induction into the profession and his continuous development throughout his teaching career. Schwille and Dembele (2007) suggest that the formulation of policy and design of teacher preparation and continuing professional development should optimally take into account the whole spectrum of teacher learning, i.e., teachers’ opportunities to learn from the beginning of their own prior schooling and throughout their teaching careers. This perspective of teacher development is known as the continuum of teacher learning or teacher education. The term thus implies not only the formal teacher preparation, induction and continuing professional development programmes, but also the many informal influences on what and how teachers learn to teach. While each of these phases of the continuum is unique in terms of learning needs, the notion of continuum of learning calls for an integrated approach to meet these needs. The continuing professional development may also be further split into in-service teacher education programmes organized systematically as per a laid down policy as well as continuing self-directed learning through different modes. This would necessitate the need of inculcating among teachers an attitude and a habit of self-development. Like all other professionals, teachers also need to spare some of their time and resources voluntarily for this part of their professional development.
Phases of Teacher Education Continuum
Five phases are visualized in teacher education continuum. A brief description and an abridged critique of implementation of these phases is presented here.




·         Apprentice observation
Continuum of teacher education, says Lortie (1975), begins with apprentice observation which means teachers learn about teaching from observing their earlier teachers during their own schooling at elementary and secondary levels. Often they tend to imitate their most liked teachers when they are required to teach. Most people do not consider this phase as a part of teacher preparation. However, many researches indicate that this learning often has a powerful effect on how future and beginning teachers think about teaching. It is rightly said that teachers are the products of the school system. An important implication of this unseen and undefined phase of teacher education continuum is that teacher preparation attempts in the later phases should be conscious of the strong impact that the trainee teachers bring with them from this phase. Many teachers are found to be more influenced in teaching by visualizing how they themselves were taught in schools than by their formal teacher education. So, if they are influenced by their teachers who used direct methods of delivery with very little use of interactive and student centric activity based methods, it is likely that they will identify themselves more with such methods of teaching and would be resistant to any superficial attempts to change them. Formal teacher preparation efforts, therefore, must take cognizance of the influences already embedded in the minds of trainee teachers and approach them accordingly. Ignoring these influences held by trainee teachers may sometimes make formal teacher preparation efforts as infructuous. Andragogy also believes that teachers’ own experience and experiential learning substantially influence their training.
·         Initial preparation of teachers
For pretty long time this phase of the teacher education continuum was treated as the only phase of teacher development and teacher education was solely identified with this phase. In India while drawing attention on the recommendations of Kothari Education Commission (1964-66) very lately, the NPE 1986 and its revised version 1992 formally recognized the significance of two phases of teacher preparation and development, i.e., pre-service teacher training and in-service teacher education and agreed that these are parts of a continuous process of teacher development and they are inseparable.
This is the phase of formal and planned pre-service teacher preparation and learning. Being the oldest recognized phase of teacher education, most teacher educators presume that they know what happens in this phase and what are its typical characteristics? ‘There are groups who either promote it on the basis of rhetorics about its virtues many of which are never realized or imperfectly realized in real practice, or denigrate its value on the basis of stereotypes, but no one substantiates its observations with contextual research based knowledge’.
In the work of Feiman-Nemser (2001), this has been demonstrated that there exists a fragmented structural framework in pre-service teacher development and that the typical programme of pre-service teacher preparation is a collection of unrelated courses and field experience. The pre-service programmes also seem to be disjointed with the later phases of teacher education. She also criticizes the pedagogy of teacher education used in this phase and at the in-service education phase as this pedagogy is a reflection of the pedagogy of higher education where we lecture, conduct seat-based learning and discussions. Teacher educators very often have been found preaching what they do not practice. This phase often does not create an environment to challenge the deeply held influences of the earlier phase of apprentice observation and promote fresh understanding which it should very consciously do. This phase is also confronted with the issue of length of training, issue of providing subject knowledge and its quantum and training in professional skills. It is not clear what is the threshold beyond which subject knowledge does not have much impact on teacher performance. Teaching arguably is recognized as a profession which demands that it should have its own scientific knowledge base which keeps evolving and expanding and so knowledge acquisition level of subject, before starting training of a particular stage teacher, must be gradually enhanced. For example, earlier a middle school pass was considered an acceptable qualification for a primary school teacher. This was later enhanced to high school which was subsequently enhanced to higher secondary stage and now it is suggested that it should be raised to graduate degree level, besides training in teaching, in order to allow one to become an elementary school teacher. How and where various attributes of a good teacher at different levels are acquired by teachers or developed in the teachers is still unclear. Research based curriculum development of pre-service teacher education is yet to take roots. Should pre-service teacher training curriculum always follow the school curriculum requirements or teacher training curriculum and teacher education institutions should help formulate school curriculum and improve school practices are some other unanswered questions related to this stage of teacher education continuum.
Induction
Induction is a phase of cultural and bureaucratic transition from teacher’s initial preparation to a state of regular teachership in a specific institutional ethos. Once a prospective teacher completes his pre-service training and joins service as a full-time teacher, this phase of teacher education continuum comes into operation, both formally and informally. There is a growing awareness about the value of this phase since in this phase only the new teacher is to be helped to adjust himself to the need of his profession and learn the ways to deal with the exigencies and demands of a specific school situation. A formal process of induction offers such programmes which enable the beginning teachers or interns to adapt to and learn about their roles as teachers and perform accordingly. These programmes are intended to support and enhance teacher learning and instill in them a greater degree of self-confidence. These programmes are organized around mentoring in which the mentor and school administrator as well as the curriculum of the mentoring process are important ingredients. Mentoring may be quite structured wherein the mentor introduces the teaching tasks gradually to the interns with lot of mutual planning, observation and feedback or it may be quite liberal in which mentor avoids pointing out mistakes and shortcomings and allows interns to learn from their own mistakes and follows the approach of sink or swim. It has been found that even if no formal mentoring process is initiated, induction does take place as an informal process of on-the-job training. The beginning teachers in this case learn from their practice and from the culture and norms of the unique school settings wherein they have been placed and interact with these cultures.
In India, though no such process of induction training for fresh teachers is followed yet, in the beginning of their professional life new teachers, like others in many other professions, are given a time frame ranging generally upto to two years to learn the ways of the institution they have joined. This phase is known as probation period and is administratively treated as a trial time. If the school administrator finds that the new teacher is performing his role satisfactorily, he is accepted as a regular teacher or else he is either given more time to understand and adapt the ways of the institution or removed from the job. James Committee Report (1972) rightly observed that ‘on his appointment the new teacher is received in the school and introduced to the ways of the place. But no one suggests him that he is in a special situation, or entitled to unusual help. He teaches a full time-table including one or two of the notoriously difficult groups of pupils. No one goes near him in the mistaken belief that to do so would be interference with his professional integrity’. And thus he is left to himself to learn informally from on-the-job training and become a full-fledged teacher. Induction does play an important role in teacher development and, therefore, it merits our attention. Some countries like Sri Lanka etc. have realized its significance and have launched special training programmes for newly inducted teachers. Significance of this phase is yet to be recognized in our country.
·         Continuing professional development
After induction level learning of varying durations, begins the longest phase of continued professional development that lasts upto the end of one’s career in teaching. This phase assumes that effective and continuous teacher development leads to maximum pupil growth. It includes in-service teacher education and continuing self-directed learning. While we have started attending to the in-service teacher education aspect of the continuum, particularly since its inclusion in the NPE 1986 pronouncements through special initiatives by the government and departments of education, we are still not sure how to promote self-directed professional development activities among working teachers. In-service teacher education keeps teachers continuously refreshed in their knowledge and reoriented and motivated in their practices. This not only helps them maintain and enhance their worth as successful practitioners but also enables them to progress in their career. A critical look at the existing arrangement of in-service education programmes for school teachers which are largely organized by DIETs, SCERTs, CTEs, lASEs, BRCs and CRCs suggests that mostly these attempts are fragmented, routinized and offer discreet short term programmes which do not form a part of a progressive and cumulative continuum of professional development. This phase is generally not guided by a long term vision of teachers’ continuous professional development needs and so does not have a clearly laid down phased professional development curriculum design which should spread over the entire professional life of teachers. Of late, in-service teacher training is also being used by the educational administrators as a substitute of the pre-service teacher training for those who have been appointed as untrained or even underqualified teachers. The duration of in-service training programmes in such circumstances is comparatively longer. It has been rightly argued that however long this training might be, it cannot replace fully the gains of pre-service teacher preparation and the benefits of formal induction training for teachers, just as a programme of pre-service teacher preparation of any length cannot become a substitute for continuing in-service education of working teachers. In China and Japan, in-service teacher education and continuous self-directed professional development concepts have very well been practised and a well thought structure of in-service professional development has been put in place quite effectively. These countries follow various forms of cumulative continuous teacher improvement programmes and practices and also offer rich learning opportunities to new teachers through rigorous induction training programmes. For continuous professional development of teachers in these countries, well planned permanent institutional structures have been set up in each district with a vision and a long term action plan. Such arrangements do not exist in many countries including India.
·         Continuous self-directed learning
Continuous self-directed learning is sparsely prevalent among our school teachers and educators. Serious attempts have also not been made to promote it among them as, on the one hand, it has yet to become a part of public discourse on teacher development and quality education in our society and, on the other, we have still not been able to fully attend to the in-service education needs of teachers. The concept of need-based professional development programmes has hardly gained favour of providers of such programmes. A great deal of self-learning opportunity on almost continuing basis may be made available on strategically located chain of teacher resource centres, which may remain accessible to teachers and educators after their routine engagement hours in their schools and colleges. This innovation was successfully carried out in England for decades and was initially experimented in India as well during 1980s.
Need for Reform in the Structure, Content and Process of Teacher Education
Every phase of teacher education continuum as explained thus far has a definite role to play in improving teacher education, teacher quality and the quality of school education and has implications for policy planning and programme implementation. There is a need to initiate reforms both in policy planning and in the structure, content and process of teacher education encompassing all phases of the continuum. Each of these aspects for every phase of the continuum deserves serious attention of all stakeholders, including educators, educational planners, policy makers and educational administrators on the following lines.
>    Implications for process and delivery of initial preparation courses
New Perspectives of Foundation Components, Theory in Education and the Process of Linking Theory to Practice
The foundation component of teacher education curriculum should help the student teachers to confront the challenges of theorizing education. Can education claim itself as an independent discipline in its own right? Is education an interdisciplinary subject? Is education an area of study with its multi-disciplinary knowledge base? There is a need for critical analysis of concepts, principles, theories, assumptions and contexts related to issues unique to ‘education’ as a discipline and how these are linked to pedagogy and practices. This critical analysis could set the basis of discussion about whether education is a discipline or an area of study? The relationship of education with other disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, sociology, management, etc. needs to focus on how knowledge could be connected across disciplinary boundaries to provide a broad framework for insightful construction of knowledge.
Theory or foundation courses in education are derived primarily from different disciplines, viz., Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, Management, etc. and each discipline offers different theories, concepts and ideological context. These have not been elaborated properly in the perspective of education and teaching-learning. Literature in education which can resolve such elaboration by presenting ‘educational perspective’ based articulation is not available. Such literature needs to be visualized and developed for teacher education programme.
The foundation component of education needs to provide guidelines about how to bridge the gap in the process of knowledge construction – between content knowledge and pedagogy knowledge, school knowledge and knowledge generated outside the school, empirical knowledge and experiential knowledge, knowledge on action and reflection on outcome of certain theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge and between universal knowledge and contextual knowledge.
There is a need to focus on the vision of school education and teacher education. The vision needs to be derived from multiple sources such as Constitution of India, the reports of various commissions/committees, analysis and synthesis of different schools of thought, thinking of great Indian educators, the multiple contexts in which the schools and teacher education institutions




are functioning and the complex process related to educational transformation in the backdrop of national development.
Education is slowly emerging as a distinct area of study with its multi-disciplinary knowledge base. The involvement of numerous support systems makes the endeavour of education and teacher education multi-sectoral and complex by nature. There is a need to search for new profiles and new roles, demanded for teachers in the emerging context. Teacher needs to be a reflective practitioner.
The foundation component needs to highlight the process of education and various interactions that take place in the process of education. Some of these are the interactions that take place between the child and the environment, between school practices and life outside school, relating subject knowledge with life experience of the child and between knowledge and practices. Methods of interaction as conceptualized in the educational thoughts of Socrates, Plato, J. Krishnamurti, Paulo Friere and their application in day-to-day teaching-learning could be highlighted. The process of knowledge construction for development of concepts, understanding, logical reasoning, critical thinking and problem solving needs to be highlighted. ‘Critical Pedagogy’ is sure to improve the quality of the process of education.
The foundation courses of pre-service training programmes need to focus on issues like education policies, concerns and pedagogy prescribed by National Curriculum Framework (2005), changing approaches to evaluation, modalities of intensive interaction with the community, social realities and complexities under which the school functions, integration between theory and practices, student competencies and teacher competencies, social goals and values enshrined in Indian Constitution, competency in curriculum and textbook development, curriculum transaction, impact of culture and cultural interactions on schooling, professional ethics and commitment of the teachers, all-round development of the child, human rights, rights of the child, national values and methodology of its education, environmental education, inclusive education, language and communication skills, adolescence education and citizenship education.
Write-ups based on research and documentation, project reports, reviews, case studies, success stories/innovations, experiential records, panel discussion on issues highlighted earlier such as Education Policies, National
Curriculum Frameworks, Constitutional discussion for education, etc. could be used for participatory interactive processes wherein group reflection, critical thinking and meaning making could be encouraged. Considerable part of theory classes could de devoted to such discussion. A major part of theory classes could be devoted to practice-cum-discussion session, provide fundamental concepts and conceptual inputs facilitating transition from ‘theory’ to ‘practice’.
The gap between theory and practice in teacher education may be reduced substantially through organisation of seminars, tutorials, interaction analysis, dialogue sessions on practice, reflective practicum, etc. In theory papers, there is a need to provide opportunity to reflect critically on issues in terms of their political, social, economic and moral aspects. It should highlight acceptance of multiple views on social issues and commitment to democratic forms of interaction. A critical framework could help the teachers see social issues from reflective perspectives and how such issues are connected to their lives and for setting the goals of schooling. Critical reflection on essential qualities of an effective teacher could make him more aware of these core qualities such as empathy, self-concept, compassion, tolerance, flexibility, love for children, aptitude for teaching, love for teaching profession, etc.
It is important for teacher educators to learn the methodology of how to get in touch with the core qualities of a good teacher and how they can stimulate these qualities in student teachers. This will lead to a deeper involvement in the learning process of teacher educators as well as student teachers. The inclusion of appropriate content knowledge about essential qualities of a good teacher in relevant theory papers and practice of affective domain related traits in school situation for a longer duration could help promote these traits in student teachers. The teacher education programme needs to allow the space wherein a teacher’s personality could be developed as someone who is reflective, introspective and capable of analyzing his or her own life and the process of education at school so that after becoming a teacher, he becomes an agent of change.
·         Duration
How to decide the duration of initial teacher preparation? There is a need to prepare a task-time matrix based on the new roles of the teacher and what all is required for a good teacher in terms of theory, practice, practicum and field interactions.
Content-cum-pedagogy approach
There is need for a planned effort to integrate content and pedagogy in the course of training teachers, the way it was so aptly visualized in the Teacher Education Curriculum Framework (1978). In this process, it would be highly beneficial for student teachers if distinction is made between core or generic teaching skills and discipline level or group specific teaching skills and attention is focused on development of both through the integration approach. Again, mere content and pedagogy integration is not adequate. Various interventions like activity based strategies, reading materials, ICT, multi-media, demonstrations, experimentations, remedial instruction, continuous and comprehensive evaluation, etc. also need to be meaningfully integrated to content-cum-pedagogy approach. In teacher training institutions, the faculty dealing with subject contents and pedagogy should interact frequently. In fact, subject teachers in such institutions also need to have some orientation into the ways about how this integration is done. Their dealing with the subject knowledge in the setting of a teacher education institution has to be distinctively different from what it would be in a general college of arts and science.
Also instead of just focusing on general methodology (as done in teacher training institutions such as heuristic method, deductive method, inductive method, problem solving method, etc), there is a need to focus on methodology appropriate for multi-grade situation, methodology for multi-level teaching, methodology of handling children with learning difficulties, methodologies of integrating physically challenged children to regular classroom, institutional design for teaching science, mathematics and languages to weaker or to rural children, methodology of handling the gifted or talented children, etc. Teacher and teacher educator need to function as a role model. Teacher is a facilitator and a co-learner and should have intimate relationships with the learner.
Implications of andragogic techniques for delivery of teachers training need to be understood, since experiential learning, field interactions, reflection and teachers’ own experience substantially influence the organisation of training.
>    Implications for induction training
Time has come to give serious thought and a shape to induction training of newly recruited teachers for which a space though with a different connotation already exists in the system. At present in this space new teachers learn to adapt the ways of the profession at their own by informally learning from the cultures and norms of the schools and that too in an environment of uncertainty and insecurity. There is a need to identify senior colleagues in each school to designate them as mentor teachers and orient them through a well drafted programme for the need, content and process of mentoring. The administrative probation period that generally preludes to the teacher’s appointment as a regular employee and is treated as a trial period for the new entrant into the profession may be redefined as induction period and the new teachers be supported, guided and helped by mentors and school administrators in adapting to and learning their roles and taking full responsibility in the schools. During this period principals and educational supervisors would provide feedback, guidance and on-the-job training to inducted teachers and would also arrange classroom visitation of good teachers, team teaching, etc. for new teachers.
>    In-service programmes and continued teacher support
        The redesigned in-service programmes offered by DIETs, CTEs and lASEs need to be linked to the redesigned initial teacher preparation programmes of these institutions. For instance, the regular teachers of schools where diploma or B.Ed, students undergo their internship should participate in ‘in-service training’ as a matter of priority. All teachers of the chosen schools should undergo ‘in-service training collectively’ to make a deeper impact. However, besides this level of school-wide training, the need for organizing subject-specific need, specific in-service training of a particular teacher or a sub-group of them in every school would continue to be addressed.
        All training content and approaches should be based on the classroom and student learning needs of the teachers, may it be content enrichment, which may include orientation, the nature and structure of different needed skills and strategies in classroom organization and management learning facilitation, learning sites and situations organization, understanding children’s learning strategies, error analysis, children’s assessment, etc.
        Short-term as well as need-specific bridge courses could be designed for the professional development of teachers in service on the lines of courses designed by IGNOU in Primary Mathematics Teaching.
The language proficiency of the teachers should be enhanced through specifically designed training modules and programmes offered on thejob.
At the regional level or in a small cluster of districts or even in one large district, dedicated teacher professional development centres should be established like the chain of Academic Staff Colleges set up for teachers in higher education, which could act as centres of systematic and regular professional development of teachers. Evaluation status done on academic staff college performance should help in better designing of these centres. Programmes in these centres have to be organized as per a laid down policy of professional development. Prefecture professional development centres for teachers set up in each district in Japan may further provide a good model to be adapted in Indian conditions.
The SSA funds can be utilised for training of teacher educators by the lASEs and for redesigning the in-service training of teachers to make it more classroom based.
Resource centres set up by pre-service student teachers during school internship programmes could become the hub of professional development of regular teachers.
Following the establishment of appropriate lASE-based programmes in elementary education, academic support should be provided to teacher educators in the SCERT-DIET system for re-conceptualizing in-service training of teachers. The objective should be to develop professional development programmes that are rooted in classroom realities and directly address teacher’s needs.
Established mechanisms for teacher support such as BRCs and CRCs could be strengthened in skills of pedagogy and teacher support by SCERT-DIETs using the proposed new process framework. Coordinators of BRCs and CRCs be trained by SCERT-DIETs to assess teachers’ needs for support to function as reflective practitioners. All CRCs and ward resource centres should become regular teacher resource centres with additional inputs to be provided to them for this purpose.
        Teacher education institutions need to formulate extensive range of in-service programmes and short term professional development courses.
In-service education should link training colleges, schools, self-learning teachers’ groups and resource persons
        In-service training programmes need to be linked to schools.
        In-service training programmes for school teachers need not be organized at one stretch. Split-up model could be followed for organizing in-service training of school teachers since it has a lot of potential to improve upon the drawbacks of existing in-service programmes. The split-up model may consist of short period training followed by application of knowledge and skills gained during the training in their own school situation and a follow-up training and interaction session, wherein the teachers could share their experiences through reflective and open discussions. During these reflective discussions, link between theory and practice and integration of different elements like learning materials, TV programmes, ‘reading materials, child-centered joyful learning approaches, remedial instructions, enrichment lessons, continuous and comprehensive evaluation, etc. with content-cum-methodology approach could be highlighted. Thus, the in-service training model may include self-study, theoretical discussion in training college, practical application in schools, sharing of experiences in training college followed by a feedback.
Networking for in-service training may include IASE/DIET/ BRC, self-learning teachers’ group, schools and resource persons. Teachers’ incentives, appreciation and recognition would come a long way in enhancing the quality of in-service programmes.
·         Types of Activities
In-service training could comprise a variety of activities in addition to contact lectures and discussions during face-to-face interactions and may include practice in schools, projects and other assignments for the teachers in their classrooms. Teachers’ training and teachers’ day-to-day classroom works need to be integrated.
·         Short-term courses
Teacher education Institutions could plan short term courses for teachers/ teacher educators for 4/5 weeks adopting multi-modal approach which includes face-to-face contact programme, home-based self-study and teleconferencing utilizing EDUSAT. Necessary technical staff needs to be provided for the purpose. These short term courses should be developed for different areas where training opportunities are limited such as strategies to handle multi-grade situation, use of ICT in teachers’ training, guidance and counselling, yoga, peace education, art and music education, aesthetics education, physical education, research methodology, etc.
·         Transaction of in-service and continuing education programmes
The in-service training transaction methodology should focus on activity-based training approaches, constructivist approach, andragogic approaches and ICT/ ET integration in training transactions. Adult learners are autonomous and self-directed, have a vast amount of life experiences and knowledge and would respond better if learning is problem/life/task oriented. The transaction of training for teacher educators should also focus on teacher/audio/video demonstration of skills/competencies/ interventions/strategies followed by group discussion, group reflection, seminar reading, panel discussion, brain storming sessions, reflective discussion on operationalization of interventions/strategies, practical work on development of evaluation tools/diagnostic tools, development of materials guidelines, activity sheets, interventions, teaching aids through participatory/activity based group work, undertaking case studies, dissemination of success stories/innovations, library work-cum-self-study, methodologies of individualized instruction, working in small groups, cooperative learning, teaching large sized classes, multi-level teaching, and visits to schools and analysis of problems following action research approach. There is a need for social sensitivity training by which trainees should get opportunity to develop sensitivity to socio-cultural, economic and political issues confronting the Indian society.
>    Implications for continuous professional development
Continuous self-directed learning also needs attention as intermitently arranged in-service programmes cannot always keep the working teachers completely abreast with developments taking place in their respective areas of teaching specialisation. Reading and self-study habits need to be promoted among teachers through regular discussion forums, reflection meetings, sharing of ideas and action research results on continuing basis at teacher resource centres, BRCs and CRCs. Habit of spending at least some personal resources on purchase of books and maintaining a small personal library need be inculcated. The relevance and importance of such a library as a resource and a unique place to spend leisure time fruitfully need be highlighted in all pre-service and in-service training programmes. Personal computers with internet connectivity may also become a great source of continuous self-directed learning for working teachers. Teachers and teacher educators should also be encouraged to organize and participate in seminars, workshops, conferences, discussions, dialogues, talks, action research and research projects individually and jointly on voluntary basis and contribute to periodicals, newspapers etc. It is necessary that suitable avenues, guidance and support for such participation are also provided. Teacher resource centres, lASEs, DIETs as well as SCERTs can become hubs of such activities which should be organized more frequently and thoughtfully than what is done now in DIETs, etc.
The Challenges to Confront
As stated earlier, part implementation of the teacher education continuum, i.e., initial preparation and in-service education phases and that too in a fragmented and discrete manner have resulted in a number of difficulties and obstacles.
> The success of the first phase of the continuum entirely depends on the quality of the existing schools and the quality of teachers working there. The biggest challenge lies in the quality of education offered in these schools. According to the current quality discourse, quality education fundamentally depends on classroom process or pedagogy used in the course of curriculum transaction which demands that schools must have qualified, trained and continuously upgraded and committed teachers to teach. In many states at the elementary and secondary stages, governments as well as private players are inducting under-qualified and untrained teachers. In the Oslo Conference on Elementary Education held in 2008 it was reported that almost 10% of the untrained elementary school teachers in the world are located in Indian schools. Situation is no better at the secondary level. The untrained teachers do not use relevant and effective pedagogy and ICT and multi-media and fail to enthuse desired interest in their students in learning. Quality of education acquired by these students is poor or at best mediocre. Students taught by such teachers are rarely exposed to variety of teaching-learning methods and are generally conditioned by the traditional rote learning methods. When such students become student teachers their conditioning in traditional learningmethods becomes a stumbling block in orienting them to new methods of teaching. Yet another challenge is that many faculty members in teacher education institutions are not capable and also unwilling to use non-traditional pedagogy and androgogic approaches in the process of training of students.
>         Initial teacher preparation system in the country, which is dominated by self-financed private stand-alone teacher training institutions, operates in isolation and hardly has any link with the school education system or institutions of higher education. The curriculum of these institutions, the study materials and the facilities offered by most of them are not regularly improved and refurbished. The faculty in such institutions is again of mediocre quality. Most of them have no prior exposure to school teaching and so are unaware of the nuances of school level teaching. They are hardly exposed to regular professional development activities except for some such programmes discretely attended by them.
>         Another challenge is posed by those who come to join teacher training programmes as an option of the last resort. Academically mediocre, lacking aptitude and motivation, a majority of them when subjected to training by mediocre teacher educators leaves much to be desired in terms of expected impact on their teaching competence and attitude towards teaching. Attempts to screen entrants to teacher preparation programmes on the basis of their aptitude for teaching and knowledge of subject content are either made incomprehensively and reluctantly or are sometimes intercepted and made infructuous by the vested interests.
>         The issue of attracting talented students to teaching profession has become more serious due to more competing and rewarding avenues of employment emerging in the society. In Japan, though teachers are paid 11% more salary than those of their counterparts appointed in other services, still the country faces the problem of attracting talented pass-outs to teaching profession. The same challenge is being faced in India also. Moreover, even if talent is attracted to teaching profession through upscaling the reward system and ensuring better status of teachers, it is difficult to say whether it will help to improve teaching-learning in schools in view of the weakness existing in teacher preparation curricula and its transaction.
>        Induction training phase faces with the challenge of mindset of educational planners, administrators as well as the working teachers who refuse to appreciate its need, significance and desirability even though it does not cost much in economic terms. An administrative initiative and some academic preparation can begin to create a favourable environment for this phase to become an experience and a worthwhile active part of the continuum.
>        It has been more than two decades since we began to take large scale initiative to create conditions for continuous in-service teacher education of school teachers in the country. In this regard, a centrally sponsored scheme for strengthening of teacher education system was launched by the Government in 1987 and institutional structures for this purpose were created across the country in cooperation with State Governments. However, even after a lapse of such a long period, this step has remained an appendage to the teacher education system and has failed to become its integral part. Many envisioned activities for these institutions have either gradually weakened or disappeared due to poor State Govt, support to these institutions. A large number of them suffer from heavy shortage of faculty, lack of cadre-based teachers and inadequate facilities. They have failed to provide leadership to the rest of the teacher education institutions in the country.
>        On the other hand, private self-financed teacher training institutions have mushroomed, most of them with a profit motive, leading to unbalanced expansion and commercialization of teacher education, with some parts of the country facing severe shortage of such institutions while some other areas are having excess number of these institutions.
>        In many states, the governments for saving their resources and for other reasons have resorted to recruitment of untrained school teachers with lower salaries and poor service conditions which has serious implications for quality of school education.
>        The state of the art model teacher education institutions, i.e., RIEs were set up in four regions of the country with the object to experiment and evolve new models of teacher preparation. The four years integrated courses still remain confined to RIEs and have not been replicated by other institutions. In four year integrated courses, there is hardly any interaction between education and subject content faculty and the courses have failed to initiate experiments for content-pedagogy integration.
>        The in-service teacher education system seems to be unprepared as yet to provide continuing in-service education at regular intervals to the army of 6.5 million teachers. Schemes of in-service teacher education are not regular in nature and state govts, avoid to shoulder enough responsibility for arranging regular in-service training programmes for their school teachers. A majority of teacher education institutions being in the self-financed private sector have remained out of the ambit of shouldering any responsibility for in-service teacher education. Existing lASEs, CTEs, DIETs and SCERTs as funded by the centre and states are not fully equipped to cater the need of in-service teacher education. The existing in-service teacher education programmes lack direction and continuity which are supposed to spread over the entire career path of working teachers.
>        The concept of self-directed professional development among school teachers and even among teacher educators has not gained any ground. Self-study culture among them is yet to take roots. The absence of any licensing and license renewal concept for teachers has eventually set in a state of complacence in them. Despite claiming to be engaged in teaching profession, most of them are found suffering from the disease of ‘asteriosclerosis’ (long set habits) and ‘no desire for change’ which does not allow them to innovate, adapt, grow and improve.
Wading through these challenges the continuum of teacher education has to assert its worth and fully establish its position. It would just not be possible without the sincere appreciation of its worth and relevance for quality education by the State as well as by the private players and without their concerted indulgence in terms of articulating a clear long term teacher education policy and required generous financial support for the implementation of this policy. Simultaneously, meeting of the challenge would require teacher educators and teachers to dispose themselves as professionals and not as floor level workers and willingly subscribe to the principle of accountability inherent in the profession besides responding to other calls of the profession.
Looking at the Future
1.       The teacher training structures such as lASEs, CTEs/B.Ed. colleges, DIETs and SCERTs need to function both for pre-service and in-service training programmes. These structures need to experiment with all the stages and modes of teacher training so that teacher education could function as a continuum.
2.            Production of quality teachers should be indentified as the goal and focus of teacher education programmes. Quality teachers are described as having some combination of the following attributes:
        Content knowledge of a subject area ;
        Pedagogical knowledge;
        Skills and attitudes necessary for effective teaching;
        Strong understanding about child and adolescent development;
        Strong sense of ethics;
        Language and communication skills;
        Capacity for renewal and on-going learning; and
        Emphasis on practice, observation, role modeling, reflection.
While developing syllabus of teacher education programmes, the above attributes and the methodology of developing the above attributes need to be emphasized.
3.       For developing quality teachers, there is a need to develop performance
standards for teachers relevant to all subject areas, all stages, which in
turn also demands development of performance standards for teacher
educators. There is also an urgent need about setting standards for
admission into teacher education courses even at the State level, teacher
education curriculum and standard for in-service and continuing education
of teachers.
4.            For evolving performance standards for teachers, the interface of all the modes of teacher training/education is necessary. The word ‘performance’ means ‘what the teacher is doing’, while ‘standard’ has been understood as ‘a reference point or a basis for comparison and evaluation’. Performance standards for teachers should be developed in cognitive, affective/social, physical/environmental and organizational dimensions.
5.        In order to link initial preparation and in-service training there should be greater focus on experiential learning, constructivist training, and making training observation-based, field practice based and practical experience based.
6.            For socialization of students and for developing continuing self-directed learning, critical theory, critical pedagogy and critical thinking become very crucial theoretical inputs. Critical pedagogy provides an opportunity both to teachers and the students to reflect critically on issues in terms of their political, social, economic and moral aspects. Further, both the ‘local knowledge’ and ‘hegemonic knowledge’ are mediated by critical pedagogy. Radical critical pedagogy believes that everyday knowledge of the child about the local context is a valid knowledge and it needs to be used as a school knowledge.
7.            It is also asserted that a valid teaching method is always based on action research. This highlights the importance of field interaction in modifying theoretical knowledge. In addition to observation based and field practice based experiences, the training institutions need to provide laboratory type of experiences through specially organized demonstrations, use of new technological devices/systematically designed presentations under controlled conditions etc. which can help them to view both initial preparation and in-service training situations as mutually exclusive yet interlinked and unseparated parts of the continuum. Both training institutions and schools need to come very close and view pedagogy as a process which is large and varied in epistemological sense.
8.        There is a need for field experience/internship of teaching of longer duration which may include guided and mentored school experiences, multi-cultural placement, guided field observations, substitute teaching opportunities to reflect on their school experiences, analyzing and synthesizing events during internship, skill training and application, preparation of learning materials, use of ICT, action research/case study, reflective critical analysis during post-internship and contextual transaction of content. During internship of teaching, the focus on pedagogy could be on development of critical thinking, problem solving, reflection and meaning making.
9. There is a need for setting up of Professional Development Centres for the teachers. The professional development centres will be responsible for organization of in-service and continuing professional development programmes round the year. At least one professional development centre could be set up in each district preferably attached to DIETs/ CTEs/ lASEs, etc. These professional development centres will take care of in-service and continuing education of the teachers through face-to-face and distance mode. In-service programmes will be school based and regular feedback will be given on the basis of teachers’ experience and action research.

One Reply to “How to Prepare A Reflective Teacher? — Needed Reforms in Teacher Education Continuum* : Indian Journal of Teacher Education”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *