In all our teacher development work we look to ensure the sustainability of our projects once they come to an end. One exciting innovation we have introduced this year in our English Language Initiative in Secondary Schools (ELISS) for teachers in Maharashtra is a mentoring pilot project. Eighty Master Trainers were selected and trained in mentoring skills and are now mentoring 15 teachers each.
After discussions with the government on a suitable mentoring model, we sent out a call for applications from the ELISS Master Trainers to become mentors in early 2015. We received over 300 applications in total. The mentor training for the 80 individuals selected took place in May in Pune and received very positive feedback. Topics discussed in the training included the role of mentors, active listening and giving constructive feedback.
After this initial training, mentors set up meetings with Head Teachers and teachers from their local areas to introduce the project, explain the aims and objectives and discuss next steps. Since then, mentors have been working with 15 teachers each, carrying out all sorts of activities, including conducting developmental observations, holding small INSET sessions and holding 1-1 discussions.
WhatsApp has been an important aspect of this pilot project and has made it possible for mentors from all across the state to keep in touch and discuss topics around ELT, attitudes to teaching and learning and ways of supporting teachers, as well as sharing their experiences of carrying out mentoring activities with their teachers. Over the past six months the group has blossomed and bonded very well. To quote one of the mentor’s posts: ‘This group is very very nice. It has become a family. Just everyone tries to take care of each other, share everything that is a must to live a healthy life, improve teaching, some article, discussions, views and social messages.’
After the pilot ends in March 2016 we hope to scale up so that all 420 Master Trainers become mentors. To do this we need we need to learn from our experiences and continue to improve. There have been several difficult situations and challenges faced over the past six months and one thing we have learnt is the importance of good communications between everyone involved – between British Council staff, government officials, Education Officers, Heads, mentors, teachers … everyone. So far, it’s been a great learning experience and a lot of fun. It will be interesting to see how things develop over the next year.
To read about the mentoring pilot from the perspective of a mentor, take a look at Mahesh Dudhankar’s brilliant recent blog post on his experiences on the project so far.
ELISS is a four year partnership project in Maharashtra with Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA). It aims to improve the teaching skills and language confidence of 16,400 secondary level English language teachers in government schools across the state, using a variety of innovative delivery formats.
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