We have a culture of professional development, collaborative planning and openness to sharing best practices with colleagues. Teacher vacations are cut short by several weeks, weekends include working Saturdays, and work days include stay back as often as it takes to do the job right, through development of resources, reflection on classroom management practices, streamlining of course syllabi and lesson plans—and frequent feedback based on classroom visits and “micro teaching.”
From nursery school through Grade 12, teachers are constantly encouraged to seek inspiration and keep abreast of current best practices by attending workshops either off site or by inviting specialists to campus. In the Junior Programme, input comes from Waldorf Schools, Jodo Gyan and international schools in Delhi, Mussoorie and Chennai; in Middle School, the primary influence is the Expeditionary Learning model, with collaborative workshops conducted by Steven Levy and Disha India, among others; in the Senior Programme, faculty attend subject workshops with colleagues at the best schools and collaborate with Adhyayan, a school accreditation organisation which focuses on rigorous lesson planning protocols and an international benchmarking system for recognising and cultivating excellence. Increasingly, Heritage teachers are asked to facilitate workshops for others, in areas such as integration of IT, French language instruction, accommodating special needs and in the experiential learning model itself.
Each faculty and department is also encouraged to spend time in retreat, traveling to a hill station or a resort somewhere in order to focus on inward reflection, team building, personal challenge and development. As much as they are intended to be relaxing, these retreats are also hard work, as teachers are challenged to test their courage and convictions through activities designed along the same lines as student expeditions.
With low student-teacher ratios, teachers set aside time for planning, resource development and professional development. Teachers meet by grade level and by department or subject area to do extensive planning, reflected not merely in the “division of content” or in unit plans but in daily lesson plans, each of which includes specific learning outcomes and formative assessments to indicate how the learning has been taken forward during that class period. Heritage lesson templates follow the model developed by Wiggins and McTighe called “Understanding By Design.”
Heritage teachers and administrators are committed to regular Learning Walks, which involve a constant, observant presence in corridors and classrooms, as well as Classroom Observations using a protocol developed by Robert Marzano and a set of standards which help teachers identify best practices for classroom management, introduction and revision of content and the creation of a supportive classroom culture. But this system of teacher support depends on an atmosphere of trust and openness, quite the antithesis of “inspections” or “performance management” which can be perceived as a threat.
Heads of department and administrators are specifically trained and qualified for their particular roles, through specialist degrees, certificate courses, extensive classroom experience, subject specialization, teacher training and school leadership. Four members of the leadership team have Masters in Education or Business Administration from Harvard, while one has a degree in Educational Policy and Administration, plus 35 years of experience in international schools. Each of these people has chosen the field of education as a career from a place of personal and professional dedication, passion and commitment.
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