We have a culture of professional development, collaborative planning and openness to sharing best practices with colleagues. Teacher vacations are cut short by several weeks, weekends include working Saturdays, and work days include stay back as often as it takes to do the job right, through development of resources, reflection on classroom management practices, streamlining of course syllabi and lesson plans—and frequent feedback based on classroom visits and “micro teaching.”
Happy teachers raise happy children. From workshops and retreats related to emotional intelligence and self-awareness, a host of other well chalked out workshops are coordinated for teachers across Preschool through Grade 12. Whilst the School dedicates significance to cultivating a culture of reading for all its teachers to keep their emotional wells brimming, and to keep abreast of the best current teaching-practices, it also dedicates significant amounts of focussed time and resources for professional training of teachers, both off site and by inviting specialists to campus. The nature of workshops ranges from whole-school to faculty or demands-of-the-discipline-specific, from child psychology to developing deep understanding of special needs and learning difficulties in students, from philosophical to spiritual, from pedagogic to various approaches or theories of education. We also draw inspiration and learning from Partho Bhaiya who engages teachers in mindfulness, spiritual and systems thinking experiential workshops; the Waldorf Approach; project-based learning models by Steven Levy, and the Big Picture Schools; and have had intensive teacher training and curriculum development exercises in the field of Mathematics and EVS by Jodo Gyan for over a decade. Apart from this, the School regularly plans and arranges field visits for its teachers to observe the best practices in other progressive schools across the country.
The School also periodically engages Adhyayan, a school accreditation organisation which focuses on rigorous lesson planning protocols and an international benchmarking system for recognising and cultivating excellence. Increasingly, Heritage teachers conduct in-house workshops for their respective faculty members and also across departments, thus further developing deep understanding in the process of researching and conduction these workshops as much as they are able to facilitate those participating in these sessions.
Each School also devotes time and resources for periodic retreat programs, traveling to a hill station or a resort in order to focus on inward reflection, team building, personal challenge and development. As much as they are intended to be relaxing, these retreats are also hard work, as teachers are challenged to test their courage and convictions through activities designed by professionals.
The aim of teaching is to create conditions that facilitate autonomy in student learning. In order to be able to equip each other with effective teaching-learning strategies, teachers set aside focussed time every week for planning, resource development, reflection on action, and further professional development. Teachers also reflect upon case authentic studies to collaboratively devise intervention strategies and plans on the basis of the feedback, insights, past experiences and fresh ideas of faculty members. Further, teachers review each other’s class boards/structures, documentation and notebook correction process on the basis of co-created criteria. Teachers meet by the grade level and by department or subject area for these extensive sessions, during specifically decided non-teaching periods and on assigned stay-back days, each week.
The teacher community at The Heritage sustains itself through continuous self-renewal, and participates in making the teaching-learning process one that is nurturing, cultivating and transforming. The model that the school has co-created for this purpose is that which firstly creates structures and an environment to stimulate tangible desirable learning, and secondly one which enables the observer and the observed to partner in this shared activity so that the generated feedback is seen, felt, and assimilated with positivity. Apart from pre-classroom observation conferencing and post-classroom observation reflection with team-leaders and coordinators, teachers also engage in peer observations for other members of their faculties. This not only fosters trust and an attitude of openness to learn, but also facilitates creation of opportunities for optimal ongoing teacher empowerment. Peer observation also allows certain critical concepts to be modelled by the relatively experienced teachers for the new faculty members. Further, the teachers and facilitators engage in Learning Walks which involve a mindful, observant presence in the corridors and classrooms through the day.
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