Digital tools, emotional wellness: Covid-19 is changing how UAE teachers are trained


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Dubai - A fresh approach to upskill training is need of the hour, experts say

By Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 15 Aug 2021, 4:37 PM

The raging Covid-19 pandemic is prompting changes regarding the training of teachers to make them future ready, according to experts in the UAE.

A fresh approach to upskill training for teachers with understanding, implementation and mastery of hybrid teaching methodologies coupled with a forward-thinking curriculum drives the agenda of a new education policy.

Educator preparation programmes are integrating newer online tools, virtual instruction and emotional wellness in their courses.

“All schools have had to ensure a readiness for online learning if there is a need to go for another round of lockdown and move to online teaching again. Government requirements aside, most learning organisations have the technical know-how and resources to move to online learning and have been successful in implementing them ahead of the pandemic to meet the needs of today’s learners,” said Glen Radojkovich, the head of School Improvement at Taaleem.

He added, “However, currently, schools globally are examining the benefits of digital learning and adjusting their approaches to classroom teaching to meet these needs. Teacher training, sharing of best practice, student leadership, budget review and digital strategies have been examined with a lens to improve access and share best practices across our 17 schools.”

As a result, early childhood, primary and secondary education in the Arabian Gulf is experiencing a melding of digital practices to meet the needs of learners while at the same time retaining teaching practices that had been honed in classrooms and were not driven by digital learning requirements.

Sangita Chima, Principal, Amity School Dubai, said, “Learning and training for a digital future with emphasis on embedding curriculum changes and gaining a hold on assessment data to know exactly which pupils need support, are necessary practices for immediate attention in schools.”

She added, “Creative and compassionate pupil engagement strategies will enable a transformational mindset. High-level technical courses for teachers, ongoing training on adaptation to hybrid teaching-learning and pandemic impact redefined student assessments are completely new patterns and trends in our school’s learning journey.”

While school leaders are hoping to offer onsite learning as widely as possible in the new academic year, which starts on August 29, amendments to standards and curricula have already been initiated.

Simon Herbert, CEO of GEMS International School, Al Khail, Dubai, said, “Teachers have found creative means to engage students away from their screens, knowing that mens sana in corpore sano, a healthy mind needs a healthy body. At our school, we know that students who have voice, choice and autonomy have a greater sense of trust and wellbeing. We insist on this from all teachers and we also aim to similarly support and trust our staff because that trust and latitude to try new ideas must also be inculcated in every employee.”

Schools have also started focusing on personal, social and health education programmes for their staff, “Our popular ‘My Health’ programme, includes classes given in sports, arts, cooking, dance and wellness, provided by teachers for other teachers. As a Principal, I enjoy learning Arabic on Tuesdays after school with my colleagues, taught by one of our Arabic Heads of Department. This is good for everyone’s well-being,” he added.

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