In addition to offering teacher development courses, Nepal Teacher Training Innovations (NTTI) runs a Mentor Program to provide NTTI-trained teachers with the on-going support they need to move from an awareness of best teaching practices to being able to implement best teaching practice methodology with competence and confidence.
Khika Bahaur Bhandari is one of NTTI’s exceptional Mentor Teachers. We met with him at his school in Thumpikar Village Development Community (VDC) to discuss his experience as a Mentor Teacher.
Mr. Bhandari has been teaching all subjects at the primary level and Nepali language at the secondary level for the past seven years. He says his greatest pleasure in the world is interacting with his students. He was selected to become a Mentor Teacher because he is one of the most talented teachers in Thumpikhar VDC.
“The best thing about the NTTI Mentor Program, Mr. Bhandari told us, is that, teachers know they will be observed, so they feel pressure to do a good job.” “Some teachers only want to make an effort when they know they will be observed but once students know that their teacher is capable of teaching them in an engaging way, they get upset when their teacher tries to return to the traditional lecture method. So, to save face with their students, even the teachers who are not so committed keep making lesson plans and keep using the NTTI methodology“.
When asked how being a Mentor Teacher has impacted his own teaching, Mr. Bhandari told us:
Because I am a Mentor Teacher, I feel my class has to be a model all the time, so I spend a lot of time planning. Since the NTTI Training and then becoming a Mentor Teacher, my teaching is very different because I do a lot of collaborative work and the children have more of a voice. I talk less and encourage the children to talk more. Before being selected as a Mentor Teacher, I only thought of my own class while now I care about all the teachers and the entire school.
NTTI has trained more than 75 Mentor Teachers from 6 VDCs ( Thumpikhar, Tulipikhar, Hagam, Filpinkot, and Rayale) in3 districts (Sindupolchowk, Kavre and Gorkha) . Mentor Teachers observe teachers on their caseloads multiple times a year and send reports back to NTTI Master Trainers. Teachers report that being observed and getting feedback from their Mentor Teachers keeps them motivated and principals are pleased that, because they do not want to look bad with their students in comparison to their colleagues, teachers are working much harder to create engaging lessons. NTTI is the only teacher program in Nepal that utilizes Mentor Teachers and Mr. Bhandari thinks this makes our program “revolutionary”.