The three important on-the-job supports for school Teacher: supervision and feedback, mentoring and professional development. Professional development increases teachers’ capacities and keeps them updated on key skills and knowledge. While professional development builds teachers’ capacities, real-life implementation of newly learnt skills in the classroom can be challenging. Mentoring, therefore, provides a powerful opportunity to improve implementation of newly learnt skills through teachers learning with and from each other. While mentoring goes a long way in ensuring teachers learn from each other, supervision by Head Teachers and feedback enables teachers to reflect on their practice and to question what they do as they go about their teaching.
Mentoring of Teachers by teachers as well as supervision and feedback by Head Teachers during Remediation is particularly essential so that teachers are continuously supported and receive feedback to improve transactions in the classroom.
Mr Rajesh Thapa, Head Teacher, Government Secondary School, Langang, observes teachers who are responsible for remedial classes. He recalls Mr P.T. Bhutia’s Mathematics remedial class. Mr Thapa talks about how Mr Bhutia started with the concept of Shapes and Understanding of Shapes to consolidate prior learning allowing students to collaboratively complete simpler exercises before moving on to complex concepts in Class 9 Geometry. Mr Narayan Basnet, Head Teacher, Government Senior Secondary School, Soreng recalls the class on Fractions by Mr.T.R.Karki who used a hands-on method of teaching Fractions using a BREAD to demonstrate the concept.
Several schools in Sikkim have created the culture of providing continuous support to their teachers through classroom observations, feedback, mentoring and support. The Professional Learning Community in the Girls’ Senior Secondary School, Namchi is an advantage as it helps teachers balance regular as well as remedial classes. The Professional Learning Community is a platform where teachers are mentored by Senior teachers and are provided with space where problems are shared, teaching techniques are reviewed, and methods to increase student learning outcomes are discussed. This community mainly helped teachers where they received regular mentoring support from Senior teachers when they were delivering Remedial classes.
Instructional leadership in these schools have created a community of learning. Teachers require additional support to transact the Remedial Education curriculum as it includes delivering earlier competencies in an interactive manner which will engage students. The Head Teachers of the schools have ensured the following so that teachers are supported effectively:
- The lesson timetable is matched to the Teacher handbook and My Workbook.
- Teacher handbook and My Workbook are available and used by the teachers and students.
- Teachers are supported to interpret and use the content of the lesson plans effectively.
- The Head Teachers have arranged opportunities for teachers to share their knowledge and ideas on lesson plans with one another through Professional Learning Communities.
- Head Teachers have discussed informally with teachers and have made sure teachers are teaching to the learning outcomes.
When Head Teachers observe classes and share feedback with relevant teachers or Senior Teachers mentor teachers to deliver remedial classes effectively, it creates teacher support environment as teachers deal with a challenging situation to address prior competencies in a class that has learning gaps.