We begin with a new academic year and once again we have millions of things we can do. But we need clarity about what can we achieve this year. And hence, like every year, we decide on our big goals for this year.
To give a brief idea about our big goal journey, we spent the first two years of our school just setting the culture of being truly child-centered. We made deliberate attempts at letting children open up and we reveled in their minor accomplishments.
The third year we spent on academic excellence. We as a school got together and worked hard to raise the bar of academic standards without compromising on the culture we had set. We wanted our students to do great at Math and Language but also be able to hold their own viewpoints and solve their problems without adult intervention. And we did achieve it. Our students, by the end of the year, not only read and compute much better they are far more confident than before.
This academic year, our goal is Teacher Empowerment. So far we have invested in professional development of teachers, but it has not been through a systematic program. This year we intend to have formal program- TeachStars, that recognizes and encourages great teaching practices.
TeachStars comprises of
- Core training sessions
- Classroom Observation
- Online / Offline course
- Book Reviews
- Blog posts
The core training sessions would be through an expert faculty, Uma Oza on topics like Understanding by Design, Art of question making, Assessments, etc. Each session would be at least a day long and the sessions would be spread throughout the year. They would help our teachers in getting better at the technical aspect of teaching and would enhance their practice.
We hold regular class observation. At least twice a month. However, this year the classroom observation would involve quantitative and qualitative aspects and would help us gauge the improvement in teaching practice.
The online/offline courses are meant to broaden the horizons of our teachers. With such courses, we end up being true learners and our student’s too see us as co-learners rather than just teachers.
As a teacher one cannot read enough and especially when it is about education. While we encourage our students to read often, our own reading involves little beyond newspapers and some fiction pieces. So this year, with the help of Uma Ma’am, our teachers would be reading up important texts about education like the work of J Krishnamurthy on education to books like Endangered Minds. All of us shall present our reading to the group and host book reviews.
As teachers, we write beautiful comments for our students, but when it is time to write our own thoughts, we are generally reluctant. And hence one more aspect of TeachStars is to write at least 4 blog posts in a year. The topics can be anything of one’s choice, but it is imperative to write.
While this is our plan as of now, it would be interesting to see how it pans out in the year. What are your thoughts about this? Any feedback?