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Teachers receive support to 1 visit nearby programs; 2 attend meetings of teacher cluster groups; 3 become members of a peer group in WhatsApp, a popular social media application in Indonesia; and 4 receive some on-site coaching if they live in one of several districts. Dyah had gotten to know some teachers in other villages, but due to travel costs and logistics, she had never had the opportunity to see what they do with the children.propnoxberssoftrott.ga
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Now, thanks to Frontline, she has spent several days in other programs, observing and, after the children leave, discussing issues with the staff. She is also trying to adapt some practices and activities for her classroom that she has seen other teachers do. Professional development researchers e.
The classrooms do not have to be models of excellence as long as the teachers are focused on learning from one another. These centers are often located far from the rural areas where most early childhood teachers work, and the materials and physical environment in the model centers are much different from the realities of small village preschools. For example, more guidance and facilitation were needed to help the visitors and the host teachers understand how to get the most out of these opportunities. Many teachers simply copied whatever they saw in their visit without making adaptations to their own context.
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In response, more user-friendly materials have been designed and distributed, and some on-site coaching is being offered described later in this article. Before participating in Frontline, Putri had taught for a year but had never attended meetings of the teachers in her area.
She was not sure why it was important to be at the meetings, and travel was difficult. In these meetings, she also has a chance to learn what others are doing and get other information that affects her work in the village. In more recent years, the concept was widely adopted for early childhood teachers, with monthly meetings of those from the same locality. Although the content of the meetings was often didactic and administrative, Gugus offered a promising foundation for developing professional learning communities. Many teachers say Gugus meetings are useful because teachers are thirsty for professional development.
They also see the meetings as important venues for gaining information about future early childhood events, government regulations, and funding issues. Although teachers had been given modest travel funds, in remote areas it was not always easy to travel to a central meeting point to attend Gugus. Furthermore, the content of many Gugus meetings had remained less practical and less interactive than was expected. As with the classroom visits, more specific guidance was needed about how to move from monthly lectures to a model of shared peer learning, with connections back to the practices being emphasized by the government and by Frontline.
As a young person in a remote area, Syifa has often relied on social media—WhatsApp is her favorite—to keep in touch with friends and relatives. Now she has another reason to use WhatsApp: it allows her to connect easily with other early childhood teachers. A few times she has posted photos of activities she uses, both activities learned in training and those she saw others use when she visited their classrooms.
WhatsApp Messenger, a free social media application, is widely used in Indonesia. Seeing an opportunity to connect teachers, Frontline asked those who provided the five-day basic training to create WhatsApp groups for each cohort of participants. Use of the groups has varied, but participants often share photos or other examples of what they are implementing in their classrooms. Focus groups showed that both trainers and teachers used and valued the WhatsApp groups.
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Teachers connected with others who had been in their basic training, and trainers connected frequently with one another and with the teachers with whom they had worked. These WhatsApp groups are especially valuable in connecting those living in more remote areas, as well as bridging the gaps between in-person connections with other early childhood educators either teachers or trainers. The potential for this type of social media connection is evident, but in practice it needed enhancement.
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Little support was provided to teachers or trainers for using WhatsApp for professional development. Some groups of participants used the platform primarily for communications unrelated to early childhood education. Trainers did not have specific guidance on how to communicate simple reminders about positive practices—but research in public health, education, and family engagement shows that such reminders are beneficial when delivered through social media or texting e.
Frontline trainers can disseminate messages to encourage recently trained teachers to implement specific practices and to share their experiences through WhatsApp. Visiting other programs, attending Gugus meetings, and exchanging messages with her teacher friends have been helpful, but when asked, Dyah says she would really love to have a coach—a more experienced teacher who could help her improve.
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She has recently completed her five-day basic training. Now, she wants to improve her ability to come up with playful activities connected to the assigned theme for each week. Before receiving training, Tari used to make presentations to the children about the theme; now she sees the need to engage the children in a different way.
In her district, there are coaches to give that extra support. In addition to answering her questions, the coach has empowered Tari to identify local resources that will continue to help her plan theme-related daily activities. Even in the United States, it is difficult to implement one-on-one work site coaching, despite evidence for its benefits e.
In countries like Indonesia, contending with greater poverty, more remote locations, and fewer qualified early childhood staff, implementing individualized coaching is even more challenging. Frontline is exploring various ways to make coaching possible, beginning in just a few areas. The first step has been to develop and pilot resources to train coaches, using group training sessions followed by required hours of practice and an observational assessment of coaching skills.
Those trained to be coaches come from various backgrounds: principals, government staff responsible for supervising local centers, and senior teachers. To create the possibility of a sustainable system, those who successfully go through this initial process are then prepared to train others as coaches. So far, the training and early implementation have been well received. Those trained as coaches want this to continue after the pilot, as their early coaching experiences have shown that it is very helpful for village teachers.
Not only that, some principals and governmental staff who have received the training have said that the skills are also useful in conducting their other, primary responsibilities. Because results like these have been fairly typical, and because sustainability is a major concern, the second year of Frontline is focusing on preparing early childhood directors and principals as coaches.
Another challenge has been that, given limited resources, in remote locations one-on-one coaching is sometimes not feasible or occurs so seldom that its effects are limited.
Small group coaching is an alternative Frontline is exploring.