Academies Teacher Preparation Programme – Creating leading IB educators | Aga Khan Academies

Academies Teacher Preparation Programme – Creating leading IB educators

19 July 2017

In May 2017, one Aga Khan Academy (AKA) Hyderabad Junior School teacher, two Academy fellows and three Teach for India (TFI) fellows completed an intensive three-week-long training institute as part of the Aga Khan Academies’ Teacher Preparation Programme (TPP). The TPP, newly launched at AKA Hyderabad, is designed to select highly promising locally trained teachers and further prepare them to  teach in an Aga Khan Academy. It equips these candidates with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively teach the International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes and lead highly talented students to achieve academic excellence. It is comprised of three major components: 1) the TPP Institute (three weeks); 2) the TPP Internship (18 months); and 3) the TPP Residency (one year). By creating leading teachers with strong pedagogical skills, the TPP also aspires to impact the broader regional education landscape by preparing  teachers to work effectively and enhance practice not just in IB schools but also as government educators.

“Day one [of the TPP Institute] was great - we dedicated it solely to exploring the philosophies of education,” reminisces TFI fellow Afeera Maryam, who has been teaching for four years but is new to the IB. “Subsequent discussions were rigorous and challenged us to think more about education. Jonathon (Marsh) gave us the freedom to express and learn on our own, while each of the other five TPP trainees brought great variety and depth to our discussions. Overall, the programme focused on making us better teachers by provoking us to reflect, collaborate and question ourselves each day. I particularly enjoyed designing unit plans and visiting the Junior and Senior School classrooms – I was inspired by the work of students and the wonderful learning environment created for them.”

In an effort to achieve this common goal of developing high quality teachers locally, the University of British Columbia (UBC), in Canada, has partnered with the Academies to formally recognize the TPP. The Faculty of Education at UBC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Aga Khan Academies on 20 May 2016 for future collaboration on a number of programme and research activities, the first of which outlines UBC’s role as an external assessor of the TPP. This has allowed the Academies to pursue formal recognition of the TPP under the International Baccalaureate’s Certificate in Teaching and Learning, which it conditionally received in June 2017. It is the first school-based programme in the world to be so recognised.

The programme employs a problem-based learning approach, rarely used in initial teacher training, and inculcates best practices in international education. “The TPP forced us to craft our own pedagogical pathways through a reflection of our own educational experiences as well as our personal beliefs and values - I liked this because it presented to us, from day one, the opportunity for immense self-growth,” says Himani Sood, an Academy fellow who was schooled in the IB and subsequently studied History of Art and Architecture at Brown University, USA. “We started our mornings with a 30-minute long session wherein a couple of us read aloud our journal extract from the previous day and then critiqued the style of writing as well as the depth of the reflection. This was personally the most enjoyable part of the day for me because it forced us to listen to one another, pay attention to how each one was growing, and fostered a sense of togetherness that was borne out of well-intentioned criticism.”

The next step for the six selected candidates is to undertake the 18-month mentored internship starting in August, during which they will teach paired with a more experienced faculty member. Following that, participants may be selected for a position in an Academy and join the school community as a fully fledged Academy teacher. However, their first year is viewed as a residency period during which they continue to receive extensive observation and feedback.

An integral aspect of the vision and mission of the Academy is to develop home-grown leaders – students as well as teachers. The Teacher Preparation Programme is an initiative that, through developing home-grown leading teachers, is crystallizing the possibility of developing home-grown leading students.