The work of NATU’s Teacher Development Institute (TDI) is overseen and steered by the President of NATU, and assisted by the Vice President: Professional Matters.
The fast-changing teacher-learner interface occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic necessitated that a snap survey to determine NATU teachers’ biggest felt needs related to continuing professional teacher development. Overall, 400 questionnaires were distributed to five NATU Regions. Altogether, 278 duly completed questionnaires were returned, giving a return rate of 70%. The results of the survey indicated the following topics as the top five areas of felt need:
- School leadership and Management
- Online and virtual teaching and learning skills
- Computer literacy skills – Microsoft Word, Including Excel & PowerPoint
- Digital/ Electronic communication skills – Zoom, MS Teams, Skype; and
- Curriculum management
These priorities were very important for planning CPTD programmes for 2022.
Priorities for 2022
As the country strides towards head immunity, indications are strong that the thread of Covid-19 will be much less in 2022 than it has been since March 2020. Therefore, the TDI is hopeful that we shall begin to get more funding for training. Accordingly, the most immediate plans for 2022 include the following:
Online Teacher Development Management System (OTDMS)
Electronic platforms have become urgent and a norm for the ‘new normal’. This will be the main platform for
- Implementing teacher development initiatives, and
- Sharing information for the benefit of members.
The information that will be shared will include government policy documents, government circulars, teacher development announcements, study guides and manuals. Apart from online learning and teaching, through e-mails and the internet, Microsoft (MS) Teams and Zoom can be used as effective virtual platforms for delivering CPTD Programmes. However, since most training will be conducted on this platform, it will be both important and necessary to have a reliable learner management system (LMS). The TDI is acutely aware of the difficulties that some members may have with access to appropriate devices and connectivity data. This is a matter that the TDI addresses by soliciting sponsorships and collaborations, although it remains a major challenge. For the past two years, the TDI has utilised the WhatsApp platform each time there has been training. Through this platform, information has been shared among participants as well as from the facilitators and organisers to participants. This has included information on logistic, sharing documents and for instructional purposes. Overall, WhatsApp Groups have been very popular and effective.
Typically, the teacher development programmes rendered through educational technologies are meant to support contact tuition. So, although some training can be conducted by using educational technologies from beginning to end, the value of contact training sessions cannot be dismissed. In fact, much as digital learning platforms may be effective, desirable and preferred by some people, we know from diversities in learning styles that not everyone will find them optimal for their own learning. The same goes with electronic/ digital teaching strategies – not all teachers will be able, or desire, to use educational technologies in their teaching. As much, some training will be conducted through contact sessions – an approach which also offers interactive varieties and can be effective if appropriately applied, subject to the observance of the Covid-19 health protocols.
Currently, there are a number of programmes which are SACE endorsed. All these can be offered online, subject to SACE’s approval. In effect, because of its nature, online education can be made available to all interested members, irrespective of geographical location. So, the intention is to reach as many people as possible in 2022. Some of the programmes to be offered will be:
- Assessment for leaning
- SMT Training – School leadership and management
- SMT Training – School discipline: Alternatives to corporal punishment
- SMT Training – Curriculum Management
- Online and virtual teaching and learning skills
- Computer literacy skills
- Digital/ electronic communication skills
- Positive school culture
- Inclusive teaching
- Data use and school improvement planning
- Proposal writing for Master’s and Doctorate Degrees
After difficulties, uncertainties and challenges of 2021, let us hope for a better 2022. Members are encouraged to participate in the planned teacher development activities. Notifications will be sent out inviting participation in the various activities and the onus will lie with the members to flag their intention to participate, and all effort will be made to accommodate as many applicants as possible. Unfortunately, for programmes which require confirmation of sponsorship, we shall have to wait until such confirmation has been received before invitations are sent out.
Good Luck and Best Regards!
Prof. SN Imenda
Director: NATU TDI