YOGYAKARTA – The training facilitators from seven provinces (Aceh, North Sumatra, Banten, West Java, Central Java, East Java, and South Sulawesi) received training on how to observe and identify strengths and weaknesses in teaching and learning, and to consider various ways to address the identified weaknesses and then practiced their skills in mentoring teachers in class. This six day event was held in Yogyakarta and the facilitators were split into two groups: primary schools and junior secondary schools (24/9).
"Many facilitators still have difficulty identifying strengths and weaknesses in the lessons they observe. They also find it difficult to give inputs for the improvement of the lessons. During this activity we are training facilitators to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a lesson, and provide guidance to teachers after their observation," said USAID PRIORITAS Program Director, Stuart Weston.
During the training, the participants observed videos of lesson. Then they discussed the good points (strengths) and the problems (weaknesses) that they observed in the videos, and discussed solutions to the problems they identified, guided by some questions. The findings of the small groups on these strengths and weaknesses were discussed in a plenary session with the whole group. The facilitators also practiced their the skills in providing guidance through thought provoking questions to help teacher teachers become reflective practitioners.
Three Important Things in Mentoring
According to Ujang Sukandi, a USAID PRIORITAS Teacher Training Specialist, there are three important things facilitators need to do when mentoring teachers.
First, give the teacher the opportunity to comment on the implementation of the lesson. Then, give appreciation to the teachers for the positive things about the lesson as it is important to motivate teachers to be more daring in their innovations. Second, invite the teacher to reflect on matters related to important aspects of the lesson. Third, ask the teacher to think of improvements to the lesson, then offer ideas for improvements and/or developments related to the important matters discussed, for example about the assignments given to the students, classroom management, or the questions posed to students.
"If mentoring is carried out effectively, it can help teachers to plan improvements or development of their lesson plans based on the identification of their strengths and the weaknesses in order to improve the quality of learning in the classroom," said Ujang.
On the last day of the training, the participants practiced identifying the strengths and weaknesses they observed in real live lessons, as well as practicing their mentoring skills at SDN Ngoto and SMPN 5 Sleman, Yogyakarta.
Eko Budi Raharjo, a science teacher at SMPN 5 Sleman who was one of the teachers observed and mentored, felt he had gained a friend to share his experiences with to improve his lesson. "I was getting students to experiment with vibrations in groups numbering 5-6 students. As it turned out, I recognized during discussions with the facilitator, who was supporting me, that there were some passive students, who relied on their friends. In the future I will form groups of 3-4 students to give more opportunities for each student to be active. The students' reports on their experiments also still need to be improved, especially where they are drawing conclusions," he said.
Meanwhile, Sutinem, the school principal of SDN Ngoto, explained her plans to encourage teachers to apply the results of the assistance from the facilitators. "We will remind the teachers to apply the principles of active learning effectively. Furthermore, starting tomorrow, we will carry out a daily activity of silent reading for 15 minutes before the lessons begin, in order to interest the students in reading and increase their reading skills," she said after discussions with the facilitators.
The national facilitators, who took part in this training, will train selected district facilitators through the provincial training of trainers (ToT). They will then train the remaining 1,500 district facilitators who will train teachers in partner schools through the primary and junior secondary schools teachers working groups. (Anw)