I am not a Mentor Teacher,but I want to be.
It was mesmerizing for me to see the insightful observations and comments made by the mentor teachers of Delhi government school in various discussions held at Washington DC during the orientation workshop of teaching excellence and achievement (TEA) program. I could see the awestruck faces of the audience from 40 different countries. The clarity of thought, deep knowledge and powerful expressions of the mentor teachers made the presentations supersede all the expectations. In the 50 days of intense engagement in TEA Program, all the participants returned home with a strong image of our mentor teacher program. I could hear the participants talking about replicating this program in their own country.
What makes this program so special that it could leave a global imprint.
Delhi is very uniquely placed and it would not be an exaggeration to acknowledge that it’s also a knowledge hub of the country. Prior to the initiative taken by the Delhi government in the field of education, only institutions like JAMIA,IIT, JNU and DU were considered as the center of knowledge creations. Nobody cared about the strong resource pool of 50,000 teachers working in the Delhi government schools. It was the idea of the Delhi government to tap these resources. The government came with many initiatives to unfold the hidden treasure locked inside the boundaries of the schools.
The Mentor Teacher Program of Delhi government is one such initiative which made the school boundaries porous. By this, I mean, the knowledge could flow from inside to outside and from outside to inside. I think, this helped many teachers to rise as teacher leaders. Teachers got the golden opportunity to unleash their potential. Within two years of time span, Mentor Teachers(MTs) could leave their imprint on almost every forum of educational dialogue; both at the national and at the international level.
For teachers,there were almost no opportunities for professional development. This is one of the reasons why many people do not consider teaching as a good option for their careers. The MT program emerged as a wonderful opportunity for all the teachers who wanted to move ahead in their professional career.
The government provided excellent training opportunities to MTs. They were enabled to facilitate the teacher training programs. They were encouraged to engage in the content development work. They wrote research papers and presented the same at various platforms of educational dialogue.
There are people,who often question about the work done by mentor teachers. There is no harm in asking these questions. In fact, These questions must be asked for a democratic society to function smoothly. The purpose of questioning is to understand. But, in my experience, most of the questions asked to MT were not for understanding but to blame. And there cannot be an answer to a blame, there can only be explanation. MTs don’t need to explain the worth of the work they are doing. Yes! They need to answer those who want to understand it.
I think,to understand the work of the MTs,one needs to look into the Pragati series work books. These are excellent books prepared for the students studying in various grades. They have also prepared other content to facilitate the learning of the students.
To understand the work of the MTs, we need to look into the teacher training program as well, which they have facilitated over the last 2 years.At least one thing which we all agree to is that There has been a transformation.
And the best thing I see, is that, through their representation at different educational platforms, they have emerged as a credible face of the Delhi government school teachers. They are the brand ambassadors.
The 1st batch of mentor teachers is unique in many senses. At one hand,we have the teachers who stand in queue to sign in the attendance register so precisely at 2pm so that they would be able to save 1 minute for several more important work in their life. On the other hand,Mentor teachers chose a highly unpredictable time schedule. For the next day,many a time, they knew when were they leaving their home for work,but they certainly didn’t know when were they coming back from work. In these two years, they have worked day and night on a war footing. I am not using ‘day and night as an idiom here. I mean,MTs have actually spent days and nights on various training programs outside the city.
Many people join teaching as this is the most suitable job which help them to meet their family commitments. Our 1st batch of MTs breached this strong patriarchal family norms. I see these MTs as trailblazers. They chose uncertainty, they took risk, they are the leaders,they are the change-makers. They have facilitated the informed choice for the 2nd batch of MTs.
Delhi government is now recruiting the second batch of MTs and many teachers have applied for it. The 2nd batch of MTs can’t be trailblazers, but,they will be the pioneers. The first batch of MTs have already travelled on a windy path; they have paved a smooth path for the new MTs. For the second batch of MTs, the work would not be as difficult. No doubt,the responsibility now would lie on the second batch of MTs to take this program to a new height.