LEAD Academy: Helping teachers level up to bring out the best in their students

Posted by Kaveri Hannah Bhat on Oct 8, 2021 11:42:53 AM
Kaveri Hannah Bhat

Tags: Thought Leadership

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How do we better support our teachers to put their best foot forward every day in the classroom? Definitely not by expecting them to do it all on their own! Here is how LEAD Academy is reimagining teacher training for our beloved educators in partner schools. 

The adage, “The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see,” shows the guiding role educators play in children’s lives. But, oftentimes, teachers are expected to come equipped with all the skills to shape generations of students into well-rounded adults. That is neither a fair nor realistic assumption, as teachers, much like any other professional, need to be exposed to opportunities that help them improve upon their craft. 

Strongly believing that a systemic shift in education will take place only when change happens from within the system, we at LEAD have been partnering with schools for the past four years. Our mission has been to especially bolster teachers from Affordable Private Segment (APS) schools in Tier 2, 3, and 4 towns and cities

Our constant endeavour to innovate for teachers to provide holistic education for children led us to brainstorm on how we could support them even more than we do currently. LEAD Academy came up as a natural solution to LEAD’s Vision for Excellence 2.0 early in 2021. 

While LEAD’s Teacher Development Workshops (TDWs) have been giving us two touch points across the academic year with educators, we wanted a more continuous engagement to spur lasting professional development for teachers in LEAD-powered schools. 

While our TDWs have a prominent place of importance in LEAD’s engagement with teachers, we found that not enough ground could be covered during these twice in a year school-wide workshops. Teachers needed to do some work before the workshops in order to take full advantage of the TDWs. Moreover, tracking attendance and engagement for teachers during TDWs was a challenge. 

So, we envisioned LEAD Academy to mitigate these issues and to provide constant high-quality training content to the 20,000+ teachers across our 2,000+ partner schools. The goal is to provide educators with the means to learn the best tools and techniques to teach students and how to optimise LEAD’s integrated and multimodal learning approach for both online and physical classrooms. 

How LEAD Academy works

LEAD Academy is structured into a three-year course for teachers within LEAD partner schools. In the first year, teachers go through the basics of understanding the LEAD product, the frameworks within which delivery happens, and best practices in pedagogy that LEAD promotes through its Academic Excellence teams. The second and third year entail getting teachers into the habit of preparing ahead for lessons and deepening their subject knowledge as they do so. 

Training takes place through 10-20 minute videos, with a presenter walking the teacher through the concepts. Each teacher goes through 5-6 courses a year, and gets certification of completion after each course group. The summative assessment at the end of the year will test the teacher’s knowledge accumulated over the year; a score of above 70% within two attempts earns them a certificate of merit.

Courses and modules are not all, however. Webinars and panel discussions are also arranged for teachers, where principals and teachers will be sharing their best practices. LEAD Academy acts as a networking space, where learning and networking is all integrated together in LEAD’s Teacher Mobile App (TMA).

Teaching the teachers

In order to meet the demands and rigours of the real world, children need teachers who can bring alive lessons and make the all-important connections to real life. Imparting education, however, cannot be a weight that is piled on the teacher’s fragile shoulders alone.

Here are the reasons we identified for the need of a solution like LEAD Academy: 

  • Motivation

Teachers in the APS segment especially have been saddled with multifarious responsibilities, which have rendered them stretched and overwhelmed and unable to do justice to their lesson planning and execution. A lack of professional motivation sets in. LEAD Academy enables teachers  to take their career aspirations seriously. Certificates of completion and merit from LEAD Academy act as a motivator and provide the aspirational quotient for teachers looking to do their best by their students.

  • Reinforcement 

Traditional teacher training efforts typically during the summer break have not proved to be very effective, especially since teachers forget the instructions the moment they get back to their jobs. LEAD Academy’s knowledge repository helps teachers refer to concepts, instructions, tools, and resources as and when they need them. 

  • On-the-go and self-paced 

Available within the LEAD TMA, LEAD Academy courses and modules can be easily accessed wherever and whenever the teacher can fit in learning in her packed schedule. Since it is delivered in bite-sized nuggets and short videos, the course loads are not heavy and the teacher can set her own pace to tackle them.

  • Testing

The MCQ quizzes and assessments at the end of every course enable teachers to course correct and prepare for their course certification assessments easily. Testing at appropriate moments ensures teachers grasp and retain concepts so that they can convey them effectively to their students.

  • Modelled by teachers  

As a former teacher myself, I remember my frustrations with teacher training as they only outlined the ‘what’ and never elaborate the “why” and the ‘how’. The LEAD Academy courses are designed by teachers and educators who clearly understand pain points and demonstrate how it should be done as well as the consequences of NOT doing it as well. Further, our Academic Excellence Coordinators bring intel about user engagement from their assigned schools so that changes can be incorporated wherever needed.

  • Lockdown-friendly 

LEAD Academy is designed in a manner that suits the unique needs of teachers from schools in the APS segment in India. Training continuity is, therefore, assured during lockdowns and in low bandwidth situations.

We have done the soft launch in 20 partner schools in August and I am happy to note that it was received with a lot of enthusiasm. In a nod to our audience, the final version of LEAD Academy was launched on Teacher’s Day across all LEAD-powered schools in the country!

Just like anything else out of the LEAD stables, we believe in constant innovation. So, our team will be revisiting and rechecking content for relevance, making tweaks based on user engagement, feedback from teachers and principals, and data analysis.

As a former teacher myself, I believe that teaching is a reflective practice. Knowledge, skills, and mindsets need to align so that teachers are able to put their best foot forward every day in their classrooms, online or physical. LEAD Academy is our commitment to help each teacher along that journey.

LEAD is transforming schools by making children future-ready. To make yours a LEAD Powered School: Partner with us today

About the Author
Kaveri Hannah Bhat
Kaveri Hannah Bhat

Kaveri Hannah Bhat is the Director of Learning & Development (Excellence) at LEAD. Being from Harvard Graduate School of Education, she has extensive experience in education and project management. She has worked internationally to bridge students' learning gaps, improving school partnerships and in building teacher capacity. Prior to LEAD, Kaveri has worked at Teach For India and Teach For Malaysia on a wide range of projects. At LEAD, by addressing the training and development needs of stakeholders working with/ at schools, she aims to ensure global standards of quality are implemented to maximise student engagement and performance at schools.

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