Saturday, 23 June 2012

The importance of In-Service programmes for Teachers

Now when I look in retrospect at the In-Service programmes organised by the SCERT in Delhi, I realise how important it is for teachers and principals to develop a positive attitude towards their profession, and the students. This is a tribute to the YUVA SLP in-service programmes that I attended as a teacher in a Government Aided school in Delhi. The first thing we were told at the beginning of the In Service Programme was how a positive attitude would change the words, “ God is nowhere” into “God is now here!” It is as such very important to develop a positive attitude among students and teachers as developing a positive attitude in students is beneficial since being hopeful, expecting success, remaining enthusiastic, not getting stressed, not giving up, trying to find something good in everything,  helps achieving goals and attaining success easily! It is therefore very important for teachers to Applaud the students. Teachers should make students reflect on what exactly positive attitude is –and how helpful it is to maintain a positive attitude.  Attitude is a mind-set  the‘way’ we think and look at things. An attitude is positive when it shows clearly the following: optimism, motivation to accomplish  goals, believing in yourself and in your abilities, being inspired, constructive thinking, creative thinking, expecting success,not giving up, choosing happiness, displaying self-esteem and confidence, seeing opportunities. It is clear that having a positive attitude brings happiness and more energy all around, higher motivation for self and others, fewer difficulties are encountered,accepting failures with grace, learning from challenges and shortcomings, more respect for the person.
Attitude, as per the YUVA SLP Hand book for teachers is:  the way you look at things. Half a glass of water may appear half empty to one and half full to another. Attitude is contagious. A positive attitude gives energy to you and to those around you. On the other hand, a negative attitude drains your energy and the energy of those with whom you come in contact. A person with a positive attitude gets on with the job at hand.He doesn't brood over what's gone before or might happen in the future. If there is a problem, she/he quickly thinks of ways to solve it.He doesn't pass the buck or blame on other people or circumstances for it. If the problem cannot be solved with a single hand, she seeks help from someone.He doesn't feel that it's below her dignity to seek assistance. A positive attitude translates into a sunny bright personality.When we are positive, we find that our interactions with the world and ourselves become brighter,more productive and perpetuate the ‘feel good’ factor. This in turn makes us healthier and more peaceful.All of us, at one time or another, express the three different types of attitudes: positive,negative and neutral. Those with a neutral attitude are sometimes the most challenged to deal with, and can be called as “spectators in the game of life.” We often try to avoid contact with those carrying a negative attitude, “the critics of the game of life.” And we are drawn to those with a positive attitude, “the players of the game of life.”
Education, thus is a partnership between the teacher and the student and it is not just about learning tenses or simultaneous equations, rather it is about learning life skills, it is about encouraging students to learn pro-active, and positive coping strategies for success in life! Success in life doesn’t end with a healthy pay-package, but means that you have  the best set of life skills and are always positive and thus always smiling! The learning of life skills is important for all, and it is the duty of teachers of all subjects to ensure that their students should adopt and learn the same.  It is in this context that it becomes important for teachers to attend in-service programmes regularly, at least once a year! It is a fact that over time most professionals develop an attitude of emotional detachment as a result of the oft repeated cliché, familiarity breeds contempt! This can be seen in teachers paramedics, police personnel who after some time develop the ability to detach themselves emotionally from the situation at hand. Often, when teachers join fresh, they might be filled with zeal and zest and have a joyful approach towards their job.I have come across  teachers who had such a positive approach towards their jobs in the beginning but after years had become rather depressed, disgruntled, and disappointed. They kept on complaining about how difficult it had become to teach students, how students were becoming stubborn, they were not doing their homework, that they had problem children in their classes, and so on. If a teacher begins to have such a poor opinion about his students, then what life coping skills will he impart to his students except for a negative and defeatist attitude? 
The purpose of conducting in-service workshops for teachers is thus to help revive their own life skills, to brush up their coping skills, and to revive their positive attitude so that they can make the teaching process a joyful learning process! Perhaps by adopting a more positive attitude they will be able to motivate their students better than if they were themselves de-motivated and with poor self esteem. From the subject point of view also it becomes important to conduct subject specific workshops. One subject in mind that has undergone change is English. When I joined as a Lecturer in English in 1994, we taught formal Grammar. In class twelve we even had what were called as single sentence definitions. In class nine there was a lot of grammar including such topics as Clauses, transformation of sentences,  Non-finites, tenses, direct indirect speech and so on. This went on till class ten. In class eleven there somewhat less grammar as more importance was given to the practice of higher order writing skills, and of course literature. In class twelve there was no formal grammar. Today, the curriculum framers believe in what is called as a communicative and interactive approach towards the teaching of English. As such teachers marking the twelfth class Board papers not to penalise students too much for grammatical mistakes, and to favour them more for communicating their understanding of the question and their ability to put their ideas into words. For many teachers steeped in the traditional methods of teaching formal grammar and the importance of grammatical sanctity, it had become rather confusing to switch over to the communicative approach and to avoid penalising students for grammatical errors! The in-service workshops helped make the teachers understand the philosophy behind this paradigm shift in teaching methodology for teachers of English.
In the year 2009 C.C.E. C.C.A (Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation) was introduced which involved assessment based on different skill areas and different learning objectives. The students performance throughout the year was divided into four F.As.(Formative Assessments where different skills would be assessed through different methods like projects, recitation, speeches, educational games, enactments…etc ) and Two S.As. (Summative Assessments-the equivalent of the traditional written tests). Such changes in the system of assessments and teaching methodology was initially confusing for both teachers and students. However, numerous workshops and in service programmes were organised by the S.C.E.R.T. and Education Departments throughout the country to sensitise teachers and to train them in the new system. The quantum changes taking place in the system of education introduced by the C.B.S.E. and the S.C.E.R.Ts. have made the attendance of in-service trainings and work-shops mandatory for all teachers, and even Principals. Last but not least, it is clear that we just having a B.Ed. degree is not enough, rather it should be followed up with regular in-service programmes and work-shops so that our teaching skills are continuously up-graded and honed!

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