How can upskilling of teachers help increase the overall education standards (both for educational institutions and students)
The 21st-century education standards have come a long way from the conventional ones. They are now about blending knowledge, thinking, innovation, and real-life experiences. While the educational ecosystem can manifest this by making policy changes and taking necessary approaches, when it comes to giving them shape in reality, it begins with having upskilled teachers. This is because only a skilled and upgraded teacher can construct knowledge in a way that fosters students to develop new and relevant skills.
Teacher upskilling is not just upgrading the teaching skills and methodologies. It is the pedestal that empowers teachers to make a real difference in the classroom. Upskilling helps teachers take the overall education standards in the right direction.
It is not wrong to say that the education standards for students and educational institutions overlap to a great extent today. After all, a student’s success is the ultimate testimony to a school’s success. But then, the roadmap to achieving these standards can vary slightly for both these parties.
Teacher upskilling pivotal for increasing educational standards in 21st-century learning
One of the go-to steps to upgrade educational standards in the 21st century has been the changes done in the curricula and the introduction of technology. However, teacher training that would be able to support the changes still needs work. So, training teachers to extract the maximum benefits out of these changes is a necessary step.
21st-century students’ learning motivation is changing with the fluid global market dynamics. They aspire to build an agile knowledge base to develop solutions that cater for the needs of the ever-changing world. An upskilled teacher would be able to match the complex demands of this new era by mobilising pedagogical and psychosocial resources in the right context.
In this light, here is how teacher upskilling is directly responsible for improving the standards of education for both students and educational institutions:
Honing critical thinking
Developing critical thinking skills is a necessity today. Students must be internally motivated to analyse a given situation, draw inferences, identify patterns and seek solutions out of the box.
Here, teachers must be up-to-date with pedagogy supporting risk-taking abilities. Skilled teachers can identify creativity in students and use rubrics, feedback mechanisms, creative partnerships, and metacognitive pedagogy to promote it. Such teachers are also aware of the demands of creating an environment necessary to develop these skills.
For example, skilled teachers would know that creative thinking takes time to shape up. Hence, they would articulate their approach to the students using appropriate rubrics” so they feel encouraged to pursue their thoughts.
Today, with technology at their disposal, students are on the path of self-learning. With skilled teachers promoting independent critical thinking, educational institutions can become catalysts for innovation.
Using collaboration to grow
The modern learning environment allows students to collaborate beyond classroom projects. Students are already doing a tremendous job connecting with their peers at an international level and designing unique solutions to everyday problems. We see this almost everyday in the news with reports of young minds coming together to improve operations in areas like health sciences, energy efficiency, etc.
Skilled teachers could give appropriately complex learning activities to students. This way, the students are stimulated to engage in positive interdependence, and also benefit those struggling to participate actively.
Educational institutes stand to benefit greatly from this as they become incubation centres that foster the growth of student skills and competencies. Such students become an asset not only to the evolving society but to the educational institutions as well since they add immense value to the institution’s name.
Mastering soft skills
Soft skills are widely called the skills of the future. They make work effective and efficient. As the world becomes increasingly connected, soft skills like emotional intelligence, negotiation, networking, and conflict resolution are the need of the hour. The future leaders of Industry 4.0 will need these uniquely human skills to wade through the ecosystem and show their competence in a way that machines can never.
Teachers can work in this area with their students by talking to them about the importance of these humane qualities and their growing significance in the future. Designing the right lesson plans and activities to develop the most demanded soft skills is an area where teacher upskilling will be the answer.
For educational institutions, this streamlines their institutional goals with the larger objectives of modern education. They can ensure that their learners are not just acquiring knowledge but are also ready to use it appropriately in the real world.
The World Economic Forum in 2016 shared that 65% of primary students will end up in jobs that do not even exist yet. In such a scenario, teachers play the vital link that can connect the present to the unknown future by preparing a future-ready workforce. In addition, trained teachers will be mentors and guides to their students and will be able to build confidence in their students to navigate through the future.
It is through them that the real transformation of education will take place in a meaningful and relevant way. Hence, education stakeholders need to emphasise the importance of teacher upskilling to see significant positive changes in the overall education standards.
(The author is Mr. Rishabh Khanna Founder and CEO of Suraasa and the views expressed in this article are his own)