Raising teacher performance in classrooms is critical to improving education quality. Both research and anecdotal evidence suggests that teacher performance in classrooms can be enhanced with consistent and need-based support (i.e., coaching) provided to teachers. To that extent, it is crucial to have a systematic mechanism in place that checks for teacher needs in a classroom and provides appropriate support.
The Indian education system has a dedicated layer of education functionaries, in the form of block and cluster officers, mandated to provide academic support to teachers on an ongoing basis. However currently, there is a lack of a mechanism that systematically enables these officers to understand teacher needs, effectively collate teacher performance data across a number of schools, provide feedback to the teachers and conduct need based trainings based on that data, rendering the process ineffective. A similar problem exists for private teacher training organisations, which may or may not have a systematic way of assessing teacher needs, and monitoring the impact of their programme on teacher development.
There are 9 million teachers in the Indian Education system currently. There is lack of a systematic approach to teachers, where each component of the life cycle of a teacher- from recruitment to evaluation, is seen as a distinct piece, and not as part of a continuum. It is because of this transactional treatment that interventions for teachers are looked at in silos, as separate problem statements needing different solutions. For instance, perceiving teacher observations as an independent solution, misses out on the opportunity of tying them into a longer trajectory of teacher support and development, where they are consistently observed on specific competencies, and provided the appropriate content and coaching to help them develop over time.
In our attempt to understand critical gaps in the current mechanisms for providing support to teachers, we at CSF felt the absence of a comprehensive product that regularly identifies their needs. Given the extent of the problem, there is currently no effective way of systematically :
- Understanding specific needs of teachers in a classroom based on a teacher competency framework
- Providing customised content to teachers based on their individual needs assessment and supporting their development
- Evaluating teacher performance and overseeing their progress over a period of time
We at CSF attempted to look at one piece of the puzzle – teacher observations. We have created a teacher observation app that allows for understanding teacher needs in a classroom based on a pre-determined framework. The tool helps collate individual teacher data through classroom observations, draw inferences of teacher performance from that as well as provide a systematic reporting mechanism for stakeholders in the system, to track progress of teachers over a period of time.
On piloting the app with some government schools in 2 states, we saw the need and scope of the app expanding manifold. We initiated this pilot with the intent of creating a proof point for a tool that systematically captures teacher needs and subsequent teacher progress, while providing the necessary support. The app saw huge traction from states as well as teacher training organisations, each interested in using an effective and dynamic product that is customisable to their needs.
The teacher observation tool has been tested for its use, its functionality and need in the education system. There is a clear demand for this piece of the Teacher Development App. We are now envisioning taking this product to the next level, encompassing the entire value chain of a teacher life cycle- identifying needs in a classroom, enabling appropriate support in terms of both need-based content and coaching, carving out a path for their career progression, as well using it as a comprehensive mechanism for teacher evaluation.