How to lead Professional Development as a continuous improvement journey in your school?

Entitlement of Teachers to Professional Development- Part 3 

Nita Luthria Row – Resource person for workshop for Adhyayan,  panelist for many sessions, PYP and Junior school head in Bombay International school.

Reena Singh – Alumnus of Loreto College, Ex-Principal GD Goenka Rajnagar, Kolkata, Master trainer CBSE schools in Rajasthan, Principal Khaitan School, NOIDA
Thomas Remigius School leader with 22 years experience at senior management in schools in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka

Jayshree Iyer

The session took off with Jayshree briefly summarizing the takeaway from the last two sessions that were on the professional development journey of the teachers and that of a school. For the present session, she introduced the versatile moderator Nita who while using her vast experience in the field of education, engaged everyone present in a discussion on continuous professional development at their own level.

Introducing Reena Singh as a dynamic and motivated educator par excellence, she talked about her contributions in the field of education getting her a well-deserved, ‘The Most Admired Principal’ award. Reena Singh has also been empowering teachers through her transformational leadership and fostering supportive relationships. The clear and transparent objectives are followed by traceable key result areas very much in the Adhyayan way.  She promotes the collaborative environment and with continuous professional development, has built a team that is always ready for equipping and empowering young minds.

Reena taking over as a principal of a large school in NOIDA, Delhi NCR, that was already doing well in terms of results, rather than sitting back complacently, tried to measure whether the three most components of the school that is Curriculum System, Instructional System and Data System are aligned to each other; the teaching-learning is taking place for every single child; do students and teachers care for each other and find answers to similar questions.  As she could see the misalignment between national goals of developing skills like critical thinking and problem-solving and the instructional design followed in the school she sought the support of the management of the school and asked for help from Adhyayan. Coaching and evaluation have to happen from different sources. Placing her trust and seeking help from Kavita Anand from Adhyayan she realizes the need to develop skills in teachers as a continuous and thorough process.

As a next and essential step, she shared her vision of reaching the last child with her faculty. She talked about the ”Agreement Matrix”  whereby she found out whether the teachers knew what they didn’t know and whether they agreed to do what needs to be done. Here again, the trust factor was very important.   She communicated to the teachers the action plan for which 30% agreed and others followed suit by and by.

 She went back to Adhyayan and got her leadership mapping done notwithstanding her management training or international level achievements. She followed a ‘Flat Structure’ meaning everyone can deal at an equal level which helped her to collaborate and connect with her teachers in a more cordial way. Transparency in the system made her more approachable to her staff and helped in building a caring relationship among them. Through ‘Buy-ins’, she could prioritize the achievement of the annual goals of the school. The mid-level leadership emulated her path and brought back an impact story like hers.

The teachers were empowered through 3 months of rigorous professional development. Reena redefined the term ‘Observation’ in her school – it was done by the teacher for herself, reflecting upon her class activities, lesson plan, tools used, linking learning with real-life events, and so on. It also helped them to understand weaknesses and strengths. The teacher not only understood what is to be achieved as a personal goal but also what she needs to achieve for the annual school goal.

The data as an assessment tool for parameters of learning and student outcomes were analyzed to measure the gap between goal and current achievement. Once the problem areas were identified where exactly further professional development was needed, the training of teachers continued to reduce the gap. The cycle of Plan, Do, Check and Act and taking help from an external coach helped in sustaining the continuous improvement.

She concluded by citing ‘John Kotter’s 8 Step Model’ that endorses three basic principles of ‘Creating Climate for Change by Creating Urgency’.

Nita resonated with Kavita’s tweet that ‘learning of a student should never end’ connecting to ‘learning of a teacher should also never end’.

It was indeed an engaging discussion on how a leader carries out her vision of professional development of teachers in a school to make it achieve National Goals in Education.

Hat’s off to Reena and to Kavita her coach! Just wow!!

Introducing the second panelist, Thomas Remigius, who believes in being a leader who empowers schools to achieve International standards by cultivating best practices. Spending two decades at senior management in school in Rajasthan Maharashtra and now Karnataka, he supported the teaching-learning process through collaborative leadership and professional development opportunities. His motto is to ‘Make Every Day the Best Day for Every Child’ and that ‘There is Something to Celebrate in Every Student’.

He considers the PD as not a short sprint but a marathon, an ongoing and sustainable continuous process. According to him, PD should be personalized as per the teacher’s needs. The seriousness of a leader in PD is reflected if there is enough provision for it in the school budget and the time allotted for it to take place.

Tracing his own journey of PD as a school leader, very humbly he admitted the senior teachers in his first school made him learn a lot and later he learned from peers and from his interactions with students, literature read by him, his professional training from IIM Ahmedabad, enrichment programs for principals and finally from social media. He developed the culture of older teachers to mentor the newcomers while the latter brought new ideas. His staff meetings were used as PD sessions by himself along with other experienced staff members. The senior teacher on being trained in turn trained the rest. Saturday afternoon was devoted to subject-based discussion. Apart from that,  in-service training by Adhyayan and their support in arranging exchange programs for his teachers with schools in other states brought the success of the PD program in his school. Being a school assessor helps him grow as a leader. Several webinars, MOOC programs, and CBSE programs were also useful. 

Nita created a sketch note to put together on one page synthesizing a lot of ideas from all three sessions. A culture of continuous growth, the importance of reflection as well as being a role model as a reflective leader helps in bringing success in PD programs of schools. Conferences, workshops, webinars are a very important part of professional development but there are so many other ways that an educator can grow continuously as professionals- online courses, books, podcasts, educational magazines, social media – as long as one is one’s own learner. Life as a teacher begins the day one realizes that one is always a learner. Wise use of social media can make it an invaluable source of learning that should be tapped by professional learning communities. Nita suggested that after listening to a TED talk or attending a conference or a webinar,  if it is pursued with a book on similar ideas, it helps to get in-depth knowledge. Additionally having a coach or a mentor is the ultimate, and if there are several people it’s even better to get different perspectives as well but there is nothing like having that one person who’s your cheerleader who is always there for you. She made suggestions of some good books for those who have further interest in learning on their own.

Kavita Anand and Spokey Wheeler interacted with all three of them exchanging ideas on how a school leader makes their teacher come out of their comfort zone and try something different that benefits them in their professional development as well as the child for whom we all are meant to be there. A must watch again and again!


Click here to watch the full session recording!

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