The English Language Initiative for Secondary Schools (ELISS) was a partnership project between the British Council and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan (RMSA) to reach 16,425 teachers (grades 9 and 10) of English from Government and Government aided schools.
Maharashtra English Language Initiative in Secondary Schools
The objectives for ELISS were based on the recommendations from the Needs Analysis conducted in June 2013.
• To build the capacity of the RMSA to deliver high quality cascade training, and to move towards other more decentralised and sustainable models of in-service teacher development.
• To enable teachers to understand the rationale behind personalised, student-centred approaches, and apply them to conducting activities aligned to their curriculum and/or textbooks.
• To encourage and support teachers to take responsibility for their own Continuing Professional Development. This will contribute to teachers feeling greater professional satisfaction, considering their professional ambitions, and delivering classes using enhanced English language and pedagogical approaches.
The objectives for ELISS were based on the recommendations from the Needs Analysis conducted in June 2013. To build the capacity of the RMSA to deliver high quality cascade training, and to move towards other more decentralised and sustainable models of in-service teacher development. To enable teachers to understand the rationale behind personalised, student-centred approaches, and apply them to conducting activities aligned to their curriculum and/or textbooks. To encourage and support teachers to take responsibility for their own Continuing Professional Development. This will contribute to teachers feeling greater professional satisfaction, considering their professional ambitions, and delivering classes using enhanced English language and pedagogical approaches.
Throughout ELISS, a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system was used to measure the impact of the project. Results from the monitoring and evaluation indicate that several major milestones were achieved. Furthermore, a number of important innovations grew out of the project and have continued to flourish, leading to positive, transformative change in teacher education in the state. The major outcomes achieved on ELISS are:
• The state has a cadre of 420 skilled, experienced and motivated Master Trainers and mentors who understand learner-centred teaching and are focused on their own CPD.
• The Master Trainers have significantly improved their training skills and the majority are capable of delivering high quality cascade training. Specific areas that have improved over the lifetime of the project have been planning and preparation, use of interactive training methodology and reflective practice.
• The state now has a large bank of ELISS teacher training resources and materials that Master Trainers can use in future teacher development workshops and programmes for secondary teachers in Maharashtra.
• The teachers who attended ELISS training are taking ownership of their professional development and showing evidence of using learner-centred methodology in their classrooms. Endline classroom observations of teachers who had attended ELISS training showed that in the majority of these lessons, teachers demonstrated using a variety of activities and tasks that engaged and involved learners. The endline results were significantly stronger than the results of classroom observations of teachers who were observed at baseline.
• There has been a significant increase in awareness of continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities amongst both the Master Trainers and teachers. There has been a growing trend of teachers coming together to support their professional development throughout the project. Many of the ELISS Master Trainers have been at the forefront of this, whether through organising workshops and teacher clubs for teachers in their local cluster, to setting up large scale district level symposiums.
• The state has a model for planning and implementing district and state level teacher symposiums which can continue to run each year. Following the success of the ELISS end of year symposium in Year 3 of the project, similar symposiums were held in all 36 districts of Maharashtra. These were planned and organised using concept notes and templates developed by the British Council ELISS team.
• There are over 60 ELISS WhatsApp and Facebook groups for Master Trainers and teachers across the state. This represents a growing online community of teachers who use social media for their own professional development.
• The digital connect between teachers, mentors and officials via ELISS social media groups have reduced hierarchies in communication, enabled transparency and open learning and ushered in a new era and change in teaching practice as well as learning.
• The state has a mentoring model which has been piloted, reviewed and embedded in the education system in Maharashtra. This model provides teachers with a strong system of access to ongoing support at the cluster level throughout the academic year.
• Through the mentoring programme, the ELISS Master Trainers have been supported to use quality assured classroom observation tools. The training and classroom observation tools made specifically for ELISS can continue to be used by the state to monitor and evaluate future training initiatives.
The impact, achievements and initiatives highlighted above point to a strong ELISS legacy that is sustainable now that the project has come to an end. Recommendations and action points to be considered in future teacher education initiatives in the state are provided in the following section.
The key activities of the project were as follows:
• Needs analysis - The Needs Analysis was conducted in June 2013. The Needs Analysis report assessed the current levels, attitudes, teaching-learning practices and needs of 1049 key stakeholders, including teachers and learners in grades 9 and 10, Principals, parents and education officials. The report has been published online by the Government of Maharashtra.
• Master Trainer selection- based on language level, qualifications, teaching experience and levels of motivation.
• Face-to-face training - 6 days per academic year of training for three years for the selected Master Trainers. Master Trainers delivered training to 16,400 teachers for 5 days per academic year between 2013 – 2017, focussed on developing Grade 9 and 10 teachers’ ability to deliver student-centred classes based on the current curriculum and textbooks for English in Maharashtra.
• Monitoring and evaluation - To ensure learning and improvement in the planning, management and academic components of the programme and to ensure opportunities for professional development are exploited.
What the Master Trainers say
Some one said ‘I am much more confident now as a teacher and teacher educator and can take responsibility of my professional development.’
A mentor from Thane said, ‘As a result of the ELISS training, the learning process in my class is now effective and joyful and the fear of learning and using English language has disappeared in my learners.’
Another mentor said, ‘Firstly ELISS has given me recognition that I never thought I would have in my life. It has given me a new name and status as a British Council trained Master Trainer. Secondly, ELISS has brought tremendous change in my life with reference to teaching English. Thirdly, my classrooms have become more learner-centred and my learners are enjoying English. Fourthly, my classes have transformed to become activity based.
Mentoring pilot programme
In order to strengthen the ELISS model further 80 of the 420 Master Trainers were selected in Year 3 of ELISS to work as mentors with up to 15 teachers each in their local areas. In June 2015, the 80 Master Trainers received a five day mentoring skills training course. Following the training, mentors were allocated up to 15 teachers to support during the academic year. The target was for the mentors to meet their mentees each month and to conduct at least two developmental observations with each of their mentees. The mentors used tools provided by the British Council to help their mentees develop profiles of their learners and then make goals to help the learners improve. In Year 4 of ELISS, the mentoring pilot programme was scaled up to include all of 420 Master Trainers. This enabled the mentoring programme to reach and provide ongoing support to approximately 6,300 teachers. In addition, the mentors from the pilot programme received a further three days of refresher training to support, build on and consolidate their learning from their first year of mentoring.