Through the INOVASI program, the governments of Australia and Indonesia are partnering to improve student learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy in classrooms and schools across Indonesia. Through the program’s first pilot, Guru BAIK, teachers in West Nusa Tenggara have been equipped with a new way to solve local teaching problems.
GURU BAIK: WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
After signing its first formal provincial partnership with West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) in mid-2016, the INOVASI program implemented its first pilot in North Lombok and Sumbawa districts in the first half of 2017. Guru BAIK (with BAIK meaning Belajar, Aspiratif, Inklusif and Kontekstual) remains true to its local name: aspirational, inclusive and contextual learning. Or in other words, good teachers are those who are willing to learn and aspire to create an inclusive and contextual learning environment for their students.
Based on principles of Classroom Action Research, the pilot supports teachers to nominate, develop and test solutions to learning challenges they face in the classroom. It improves their competence and confidence to deliver curriculum and use classroom assessment techniques. Through a series of workshops and in-school mentoring activities, teachers discover what particular learning challenges the children in their own classroom face and then develop, test, review and iterate different solutions to address them. Through showcase activities, participating teachers then document and share their findings and experiences with other teachers in their own school, and from other schools across their district. Contextual problem driven methodology is central to the pilot design.
Over 200 teachers participated in the first Guru BAIK pilot in NTB, from 50 primary schools across North Lombok and Sumbawa. With warm reception from local government, Guru BAIK was then rolled out in INOVASI’s remaining partner districts – Bima, Dompu, Sumbawa Barat, Lombok Tengah – with APBD funding.
SIX PHASES OF GURU BAIK
All six phases of Guru BAIK were implemented through a series of four workshops with associated mentoring activities. During workshops one and two, INOVASI facilitators helped teachers identify the learning problem in their classroom, and develop a research action plan to better explore the problem and a possible solution. In general, root causes identified by teachers related to teaching skills, resources, student motivation, students’ Indonesian language fluency, and lack of learning feedback in the classroom.
Workshops three and four then saw teachers implement their action plan in the classroom and receive training in the development of formative assessment. By aligning learning instruments with formative assessments, a basis for evaluating the success of classroom lessons could be established. As a final step, teachers shared their findings and experiences with other teachers – including at large showcase events held in both North Lombok and Sumbawa in May 2017. More than 150 community and education stakeholders came along to each event, including local lecturers, school supervisors, district officials and school principals and teachers from non-participating schools.
Hen Yuliawati, a primary school teacher from Sumbawa, was positive about her Guru BAIK experience.
‘After the first workshop, we just knew how to identify student’s problems and difficulties in learning. We observed students from videos, observing homework, and also by looking at student’s aspirations. My problem while teaching early grade classes in primary school is to help them comprehend maths concepts. I was inspired after joining the INOVASI program’.
At the close of the pilot, 100% of Guru BAIK teachers had developed action plans, with 96% implementing them as planned in the classroom.
SHIFTING TEACHER MINDSET
While the Guru BAIK pilot certainly helped teachers identify and develop solutions to learning problems in their classrooms, the shift in teacher mindset and thinking could arguably be the most significant change.
Cici Wanita, an INOVASI Teaching and Learning Officer, and the lead of the first Guru BAIK pilot, reflected on teacher self-reflection as a key impact point.
‘At the beginning of the pilot, teachers still saw student behaviour as the main issue affecting learning outcomes, rather than the learning process itself. By the end of the pilot, teachers were more focussed on the learning process taking place in their classroom, and how to improve it’.
From her experience implementing Guru BAIK, Cici learnt that teacher self-reflection is key to improving the quality of classroom learning practices. Once teachers are willing to question the effectiveness of their own teaching practices and think about whether there are more effective and efficient ways to support student learning, the overall quality of classroom learning can improve. This includes thinking about what they have done, why they did it, what worked, and what did not work and why.
Said Cici, ‘to help teachers see the value of self-reflection, INOVASI put teachers at the centre of the workshops and focussed discussions on the learning process, rather than results. In doing this, the main role of our facilitators was to ask the right questions and help teachers think and reflect on their own practices. Teachers were better able to think of how to improve, rather than being given an end solution by someone else’.
Almost 80% of Guru BAIK teachers recognised the value of INOVASI’s distinctive approach to solving learning problems in the classroom, with 86% planning to continue applying the problem-solving process.
For a country where the quality of student learning outcomes remains a crucial challenge, influencing and changing the mindset of teachers will have only positive effects for students and Indonesia’s education system as a whole.
Said Abdul Azis, a fourth-grade teacher from Sumbawa, ‘I have one message to all teachers in Indonesia. If we want to change the minds of our students, we need to try and change our own minds first’.
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