School management can offer training to the teachers, send them to workshops and do all they can to professionally develop teachers.
But hell hath no fury like a teacher being trained by an admin who has little or no classroom experience! Seriously…school administrators need to undertsand a few things before they throw around words like ‘teacher training’ and ‘professional development’!
- It takes one to know one
If you have been inside a classroom and you are not one of the thirty or more students, then you must know how all teachers feel. There are some batches of students that can give nightmares to even the ‘Queen Bee’ teachers of the school! And it is only a teacher who can actually understand another teacher’s issues and be a viable support system. When the likes of us see an administrator (read outsider) trespassing into our territory and offering unsolicited advice as to how we can better deal with students, it’s a lost cause.
We turn a blind eye and a deaf ear the minute you say something like, “I have never been in a classroom”, “I have hardly taught”, or “it’s been ages since I entered a classroom”.
2. It ain’t that mechanical
Some tips and tricks fool us into believing that all processes are alike. But this isn’t always true. For instance, making a lesson plan is as non-mechanical as making a time-table is mechanical. While the latter requires logic, compartmentalisation and the like, the former requires one person to understand the needs of many and to ensure that those “those numerous needs” are all included in the lesson. To top that, we have diverse instructions to include and diverse strategies to incorporate which must be linked with each other.
3. Use what is to be taught
Reading up on teaching strategies is one thing; implementing those strategies is quite another. Simply providing photocopies/handouts of diverse teaching strategies or making a vibrant Power Point presentation is not enough. You HAVE to practise what you preach. Humans learn by doing; so if you taught by the same strategy that you are teaching the teachers – it might just do wonders. But this would be a tad difficult if you have not had first-hand experience as a teacher in a classroom.
4. Watch your words
I remember being made to attend a workshop where attendance was compulsory for all the team leaders. The email that was circulated stated:
“We have scheduled the training for day after tomorrow after school hours. ATTENDANCE IS COMPULSORY. IF YOU DO NOT ATTEND, ONE DAY OFF PLUS ONE DAY’S PENALTY WILL BE LEVIED. NO EXCUSES!
As much as I wanted to be a part of that training, I hated sitting through it because of this email.
So, a word of advice, next time you plan a training workshop for teachers, do some research on the requirements and the methodology. And above all, remember that you are dealing with (mostly) competent adults and not kindergarten students!
Are you a teacher? What are some of the issues you have faced with your school’s managment? Tell us at [email protected]