Reimagining Teacher Development
Updated: Oct 3, 2022
The COVID19 pandemic upended a lot of systems. Especially learning systems worldwide. Not only did it disrupt school calendars but it also brought to light the need to reimagine our learning systems. But what about the people who run these systems?... The people at the centre of it all, save for the students, teachers were majorly affected and their systems and approaches needed to be reimagined too.
Led by a panel of 4 professionals from government to grassroots, Metis brought together 70 + leaders in our first 2022 event to explore opportunities for reimagining teacher development. The collective explored what it would take to reimagine teacher development in Kenya and the steps that we should take to realize these changes.
Our panellists included:
Mercy Munialo, Senior Leadership Coach, Dignitas
Ruth Mugambi, PA & Technical Advisor to the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Education
Dennis Omolo, Teacher & Founder, The Teaching Pool
Carol Owala, Founder & ED, Kenya Big Picture Learning
Didn’t make it to the event?... We’ve got you covered.
Here are some meaningful ways the collective identified as effective steps towards teacher development.
1. Prioritize building leadership mindsets.
As a first step towards effective teacher development, educators need to ask themselves a conditional question: Am I a change agent in the classroom?...
This question presents them with the chance to reflect on what Ruth Mugambi referred to as their ‘core assignment’.
It’s been said that teaching is indeed a calling and teachers should therefore ask themselves why they chose to answer the call.
There is a need for educators who are yet to identify their core assignment, to pause and reflect on what role they want to play in their learners' lives.
Once their purpose is clear, then the development can begin.
Mindset coaching helps the teacher think about their core role as a teacher...am I a mentor or just a teacher and how can I be both?
2. Embrace localized training.
Localizing training allows educators to address issues that are locally relevant to their communities and allow for more meaningful learning experiences.
Through localized learning, educators can identify their unique weak spots and work out solutions to improve them.
Educators can localize these learning experiences, to serve their specific community needs by asking themselves "What is the most important skill that teachers in this locality need?...
In the CBC teachers are encouraged to be innovative and contextualize their teaching depending on the kind of learners they have and their location and situation. “ - Ruth Mugambi
3. Allow teachers to be in the driver’s seat of their own development.
“Give us choice. We want to be able to set priorities for ourselves. It’s overwhelming when change is always coming from the top” - Dennis Omolo
Teachers value agency and autonomy and we should give them the space to exercise their autonomy especially when it comes to improving their skills.
4. Enable peer-to-peer learning.
The premise behind building communities of practice is for teachers to improve their skills and work towards achieving better quality learning experiences.
Communities of learning enable teachers to:
share their best approaches and learn new ones from fellow educators in their communities
Get good quality feedback from their peers which translates into them better reflecting on their practice and performance.
5. Facilitate life-long learning
In addition to communities of practice, teachers need to constantly update their skills. Regular refresher courses help in the learning and unlearning process that’s required for us to better reimagine education.
6. Leverage technology for teacher development.
Tech provides a wide array of tools for building virtual communities of practice for teacher development, learning, and discussions.
There are already localized examples of this in practice from our everyday Whatsapp groups to online spaces and events. However, for these spaces to be effective, they need to set a regular cadence to facilitate relevant and even lifelong learning.
(Stay tuned! Metis is launching ConnectED to enable peer learning later this year)
7. Provide avenues for mentorship & collaboration
Mentoring is an important aspect of professional development for educators. The benefits of which aren’t limited to the apprentice. Through mentorship, experienced teachers can pass down instruction and guidance, personal support, and provide feedback. Novice teachers also get to improve their teaching methods and practices. Open communication between the mentors and the mentees is also crucial to success. Teachers often draw support from each other and consulting with more experienced educators paves the way for collaborations to be born thus positively contributing to school improvement and student success.
8. Remember teachers are HUMAN!
We need to create support systems & safe environments for learning and teaching.
Mental Health is an important factor in education that is mostly overlooked despite its delicate nature and vast impact. School and classroom environments also have an important impact on the sense of belonging and overall mental health of both students & teachers. Internal school support systems help teachers respond positively to the challenge of improvement. Maintaining positive relationships among teachers & students within a caring school community and safe, welcoming, inclusive classrooms, contributes to students' social-emotional wellness and readiness to learn. Schools should feel like safe spaces for both educators & learners to thrive.
It's a fundamental truth that all teachers are open to improving but how do we measure their growth?...
In a results-based evaluation approach, it may seem attractive to take student performance as a basis but we have to keep in mind that the education system isn't a farm or a factory for churning out A’s and good grades.
Good teachers activate learners' intellect, emotions, imagination and bodies for more effective and holistic learning.
Many alternative approaches can be used to evaluate teacher outcomes: lesson observation, peer observation, interviews with the teachers, parent and pupil surveys among many others.
As we work towards reimagining education there is plenty of room for improvement that cannot be covered by teachers alone. It's up to each and every one of us in our own power as individuals, institutions and organizations to contribute to the holistic development of our systems. Metis continues to look forward to seeing education stakeholders go above and beyond in ensuring they provide quality education for learners in Kenya and beyond.
Looking for a community of educators, innovators and changemakers in education to get you started on your development journey?
Written by Tracy N.Mwaura
Communications Officer, Metis