Self-Initiated teacher innovations in government rural elementary schools: Evolution, impact, and sustainability
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The challenge to the production function approach has attracted the attention of education research towards the behavioural aspects of key educational change initiators, i.e., teachers and principals. The teaching profession worldwide is going through a period of crisis. However, not all is bleak. Several government teachers in rural India despite the socio-economic constraints have been able to show self-initiated innovative behaviours. They have introduced several educational and enabling social innovations in their classroom, school, and local village. In this research, I have studied about the work of innovative teachers from a database of 5615 teachers. Educational Innovation (EI) bank led by Prof Vijaya Sherry Chand maintains the database under the aegis of Ravi J. Mathai Centre of Educational Innovation (RJMCEI, IIMA). The first part of the study looked at Innovation and educational quality from a macro perspective. It followed a quantitative approach. It used a natural experiment design based on the matched samples. It was to assess impact of innovative teachers on educational quality as measured by the state government. It was followed by correlational analysis of Innovation Scores (IS) and various educational Evaluation Scores (ES). ANOVA test on various ES between the top quartile (TQ) and bottom quartile (BQ) individually and in the context of various school types and district type helped me understand the contribution made by teachers as distinct from other infrastructural variables. It used a circular systematic sample. The results suggest that schools having innovative teacher outperform other schools on scholastic, co-scholastic, community participation, and school infrastructure scores. In addition, innovative behaviour is not just an individual trait. The institutional features do have a bearing on the initiation and continuance of such action. In the second part, the heart of my study, I took a micro-perspective and pursued 10 case studies. I looked at teacher innovation as role enhancement behaviour. The findings suggest that intrinsic motivation largely drives teacher innovation. The triggering event has an ethical and social relevance component to it. These innovations have not only led to the achievement of conventional educational outcomes but have also led to broadening of the educational agenda based on student’s interest and aptitude. The development of a partnership with the community and continuous engagement serves as key enablers. In exceptional cases, teachers have led community development and entrepreneurship. New models of educational and social sustainability in rural settings have emerged. The study proposes a model of self-initiated teacher innovation. The study suggests lessons for policy makers and other educational stakeholders to foster such innovative behaviour among a larger group of teachers.
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