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Are Quality Teachers in Shortage at Your School?

“The primary task of a society is to find a real teacher, one who performs his duty with perfection and dedication and is a perfect moral example for the society.”
—Rabindranath Tagore

Is the dearth of quality teachers at your school keeping you awake at night? Take heart, we have some suggestions for you to improve the quality of teachers at your school.
Quality Teachers Critical for Quality Education
The quality of education imparted to students at your school depends on many factors. The key factors influencing the quality of education are:
• The quality of teachers
• Effective design of curriculum and course content
• Lesser number of students in a class
• Right infrastructure, including access to digital equipment and devices
• Availability of a variety of learning contexts – guided independent study, project-based learning, collaborative learning, experimentation, etc.
• Soliciting and using feedback
• Effective assessment of learning outcomes
• Professional development programs for teachers during their career
• Fair and transparent administrative policies
• Judicious and adequate funds allocation
• Proper and prompt evaluation of teachers, with the right incentives in place
• Good governance
• Linkages with other institutions and organizations
Among the above factors, the quality of your teachers has a key role to play in imparting quality education to your students, so much so that without quality teachers filling the ranks of your staff you can bid goodbye to quality education.
The key characteristics of high-quality teachers are (Mitchell, et al., 2001):
• Passion for teaching
• Commitment to their students and their students’ learning
• Love of children
• Mastery of subject matter knowledge – know the substance and structure of the disciplines they teach
• Mastery of pedagogical techniques – understands how learning occurs—how students construct knowledge, acquire skills, and develop habits of mind—and knows how to use instructional strategies that promote student learning
• Subject-specific pedagogical knowledge – goes beyond knowledge of the subject matter to include ways of representing and formulating topics that make them understandable to students. It also includes an understanding of what makes learning a topic easy or difficult for students—for example, misconceptions about the solar system that might impede learning about astronomy
• Are able to translate difficult substantive ideas into terms that students can understand, to diagnose students’ understandings and misunderstandings, and to develop explanations, examples, and representations, including learning activities themselves, that are appropriate for students’ levels of understanding
• Make knowledge accessible to all students by treating students equitably
• Use knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom
• Adjust their practice based on observation and knowledge of their students’ interests, abilities, skills, knowledge, family circumstances, and peer relationships
• Understand how students develop and learn
• Know how to ask questions and stimulate discussion in different ways for particular purposes, for example, probing for learner understanding, helping students articulate their ideas and thinking processes, promoting risk-taking and problem solving
• Encourage convergent and divergent thinking, stimulate curiosity, help students to question
• Foster students’ self-esteem, motivation, character, civic responsibility, and their respect for individual, cultural, religious and regional differences
• Monitor student learning through ongoing assessment of student progress
• Understand how to motivate students to learn and how to maintain their interest even in the face of temporary failure
• Ability to collaborate with other teachers and community members – fosters relationships with school colleagues, parents, and agencies in the larger community to support students’ learning and well-being
• Capacity for reflection, self-assessment, and improvement – experiment with, reflect on, and revise their practice to improve their effectiveness in meeting students’ needs and achieving instructional goals
Ensuring Quality Teachers at Your School
Let us see some of the steps you can take as Principal or Vice-Principal of your school or head of the department to ensure that the quality of teachers at your school is high and stays high:
1. First of all, you need to have the right selection criteria in place when recruiting new teachers. The teachers you select must be having relevant degrees, be professionally competent, have student teaching experience, have good pedagogical training, have good communication skills, be friendly in disposition, be firm but empathetic, be highly conscientious, have good analytical abilities, etc.
2. The additional training you impart to them must be of high quality, one which motivates them to perform well in their classes.
3. Develop consensus on vision and values.
4. Identify and promote the most effective teaching practices and pedagogical methods that achieve the desired learning outcomes for students.
5. Have in place a teacher mentoring program led by senior teachers.
6. Evaluate classroom performance of teachers.
7. Hold periodic and regular teacher development programs.
8. Give suggestions to teachers regarding the use of newer teaching methods through service training, professional development programs, and other
means. But the authority should not dictate about method to be used by teacher. The teacher should enjoy academic freedom in the discharge of professional duties.
9. Have in place good formal and informal leadership.
10. Conduct healthy and two-way communication with the community and other authorities in the school ecosystem.

Call To Action
Given our vast and burgeoning experience in dealing with teachers on a first-hand basis, having been communicating with them on the problems they are facing, their strengths, their vision for teaching and pedagogy, etc., in addition to our interactions with all the authorities in the school ecosystem, we are in a position to guide you in your quest to find and improve quality teachers. So, feel free to contact us and initiate a discussion.

 References
Mitchell, K., Robinson, D., Plake, B. & Knowles, K. eds., 2001. Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality. 1st ed. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

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