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Monday, 12 May 2014

Teachers as Changemakers


Nayan is our Training Fellow based out of Jaipur, Rajasthan. In this piece, Nayan shares her experience attending a conference organised by STIR Education.

Teachers are the change maker in the process of education. We need to acknowledge that, in order to solve the learning crisis, we need to have teachers who are motivated, trained and who bring innovation in teaching.

Teacher motivation and professional development is often inadequately addressed in the education sector. At the same time, there are organisations that are doing their best to empower teachers from different schools. It had been mentioned in documents also that policies, projects and products are unlikely to work without teacher support.


The NPE 1986 devotes a section on “The Teacher”:
“The status of the teacher reflects the socio-cultural ethos of a society; it is said that no people can rise above the level of its teachers. The government and the community should endeavour to create conditions that will help motivate and inspire teachers on constructive and creative lines. Teachers should have the freedom to innovate and to devise appropriate methods of communication and activities relevant to the needs, capabilities and concerns of the community”.
One fine Saturday morning I went to Delhi to attend the ‘Teacher Changemaker Summit 2014’ which was organised by STIR Education. There I met teachers who are highly motivated and committed. These are the teachers who are bringing innovations despite all odds. When I entered the hall it was packed with teachers, NGO partners and experts. I was amazed to see the participation and the enthusiasm of teachers.

STIR Education was established by Sharath Jeevan with the aim of empowering teachers as change makers. They believe in the power of teachers and principals to improve education. In order to bring change in classroom they focus on 3 ‘I’:
  • Innovate
  • Implement
  • Influence

This summit was organised with the aim of rewarding teachers (bright spots) who have brought change in the classroom and to create a platform where teachers from different schools across India can share their best practices with each other. I was humbled to see that there is space where teacher can meet and talk about their work and learn from others.

“(A) problem used to look like a big hurdle and it seemed that is impossible to solve but now we can talk to teachers of different schools and get ideas”, remarked one teacher who was sharing their experience working with STIR.

I could see the relation between recognition, freedom and teacher motivation. When teachers face problems in the classroom regarding teaching and learning, student attendance, community participation etc. it seems big...until they feel energised and motivated to solve the problem. Once they gain the confidence that it is a teacher who can bring change, then no one can stop them to create a marvel in their classroom.
A few points which need be given importance in this paradigm are:
  1. Importance of recognising the role of teachers
  2. Creating a teacher network
  3. Following up with teachers
  4. Professional development of teachers
Thus, teachers will continue to play a crucial role in the educational improvement and in implementation of policies.


References:
  1. Government of India. 1986. National Policy on Education and Programme of Action (1986). New Delhi: GOI.