MGM English School was established 23 years ago by MGM Orthodox Church Centre in Pune. Though it started with a vision to provide only basic elementary education to underprivileged children in the locality, over the years it became a prominent educational institution. Mrs Krutali Karanjkar worked as an assistant teacher for 7 years before becoming the supervisor in 2012. Due to her continued dedication and commitment towards improving the school, she was promoted as the Principal in 2015. School Leader, Mrs Karanjikar joined the ISLI program in 2018 along with her junior teacher who supports her in implementing best practices in the school.
Challenge faced by the School Leader
In spite of being associated with the school for the past 10 years, one major challenge for the School Leader was teacher management. The crux of the problem was that some teachers did not have a good rapport with the principal. To make matter worse, there was resentment among senior teachers because of the highly invested, skilled junior teacher, was now observing their lessons and conducting school walkthrough along with the School Leader. The dissatisfaction among the teachers became a major huddle for implementing ISLI best practices.
The need of the hour was clear - establish a positive school culture among the teachers and ensure that all teachers understood the essence of internal support to learn and develop professionally. But it’s easier said than done.
Intervention by the ISLI Programme Manager to support the School Leader
The school leader started conducting meetings with the teachers to discuss the rationale behind ISLI practices. She also discussed the same during one-on-one feedback sessions. After trying out everything that she could, she decided to involve her Programme Manager and innovatively tackle this challenge.
The School Leader and Programme Manager co-planned and co-facilitated an exclusive session for the teachers in which they discussed the concept of growth vs fixed mindset and the importance and process of lesson observations. They introduced a peer observation tool where teachers observe each other’s lessons and provide critical, well-structured feedback.
The School Leader ensured that other teachers also observed lessons conducted by her. This step towards breaking down the hierarchy within the system as well as in the mindsets initiated a positive learning experience. When everyone observes each other’s lessons, the dissent regarding a junior teacher observing a senior teacher is also indirectly addressed. The peer observation tool was introduced as a voluntary practice so that it would not be overwhelming and does not feel forced upon. The Programme Manager helped the School Leader to institutionalise the peer observation strategy by simply encouraging her teacher to include it in their daily timetable.
Steps taken by the School Leader
School Leader and her teachers made a monthly plan regarding peer observations and enthusiastically started the process.
Initially, 3 teachers and the School Leader formed a group and decided to observe each other’s lessons. However, they went on to observe lessons of other teachers as well resulting in at least 1 peer observation per teacher in a week. They worked together to collate data about one particular teacher’s performance and used the data to improve the quality of the feedback. They also conducted a role-play session with the Programme Manager emphasising the nuances of effective feedback and the various ways to execute it. This small group activity soon became the highlight within the school where more and more teachers were willing to join.
Impact on teachers and students
This initiative taken by the School Leader helped the teachers to improve the communication with each other as well as with the School Leader along with building a strong team culture. The qualitative analysis helped them to understand themselves and their peers which directly increases the scope of personal and professional growth. Through peer observations, teachers could identify their strengths as well as areas of improvement. The feedback mechanism helped them analyse and plan future action steps towards development. In the process, teachers could display their analytical and presentation skills. They mutually benefited and appreciated each other’s support. It became an avenue for mitigating certain professional barriers between the fellow colleagues.
The School Leader could fine-tune her observation and feedback skills which helped in building a better relationship with her teachers simultaneously establishing an open learning culture within the school.
The School Leader believes and understands that this is an ongoing process and wishes to implement the following in the future:
- Share the knowledge gained through the ISLI workshop with all the teachers so the entire school works towards the common vision
- Involve teachers in administration work and assigning tasks to the faculty based on their interest and skill set
- Invite nearby school teachers for peer observation to get a different external perspective
Photo Source: MGM English School