I just attended a talk by OECD that spoke about the teachers and how they can get the best out of their students. The talk was very interesting, listing countries from Europe, Asia, south America and many others (The first cycle of TALIS was conducted in 2008 in 24 countries. The second cycle, TALIS 2013 – included 38 participants (34 participants in 2013 and 4 additional participants in 2014 and 2015). The latest cycle of the study, TALIS 2018 has expanded to include additional countries, bringing the total number of participants to 48 countries and economies. TALIS 2018 was answered by over 260 000 teachers and 15 000 school leaders from lower secondary, primary and upper secondary education levels.

In 2018, the main survey (ISCED level 2) was conducted in 31 OECD countries and economies – Alberta (Canada), Australia, Austria, Belgium (the Flemish Community of Belgium also participated as a sub-national entity of Belgium), Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England (United Kingdom), Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States. Non-OECD member countries who participated in TALIS 2018 are – Brazil, Bulgaria, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires (Argentina), Croatia, Cyprus,[1],[2],[3] Georgia, Kazakhstan, Malta, Romania, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Shanghai (China), Singapore, South Africa, Chinese Taipei,[3] the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam.
Additionally, in 2018, 15 countries and economies surveyed teachers and school leaders in their primary (ISCED level 1) schools, 11 did so in their upper secondary (ISCED level 3) schools and 9 countries conducted the survey in schools that participated in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) through the TALIS PISA link option.caption taken from OECD/TALIS website).

The survey that is referred to as TALIS (Teaching and Leaning International Survey) was sent to many countries and contains elements that affected the teaching environment during the pandemic (I guess this came as an after thought).

The questionnaire tested many items that are crucial to the effective teaching and learning arena, some of the questions I had found very intriguing, and here is my reflection on these few questions:

1- Technology- from our experience during the pandemic, we noticed a great need for proper technology infra structure, and that too was evident in the survey done by OECD. this dilemma was noticeable around the world, so despite that availability of everything “internet” around us, we still felt the need to have a better infrastructure especially while teaching children remotely using the internet. (for example I noticed my 5 year old grad daughter shy away from the screen when the teachers was writing on the screen, but looks at the screen when the teacher speak to the students directly, I also noticed that there was no proper interactions and thus she loses interest after the first 5 minutes).

2- Innovative environment. this is a crucial element, if we do not have innovation in remote and electronic learning, we will fail the students, we need to have proper methodology (white boards, videos, small groups, assistant teachers to manage the students etc) basically we cannot just continue to have a book and a teacher teaching on Zoom and call it electronic teaching.

3- Collaboration between teachers- this is a field by itself, and as far as I can see its a teachers’ induced feeling rather than an imposed policy. the teachers need to learn how to collaborate and she best practices. TALIS found out that the collaboration in primary schools is far better than secondary schools as it decreases by time.

4- Collegiality of the teachers- this is mainly the respect between teachers and the help each one provides to the other. I am sure that during the pandemic there had been great collaboration and help provided by teachers to teachers. I managed to speak to some teachers of primary schools and they confirmed that the do in fact collaborate with each other, whether in school, out of school or intra-school (based on relationship rather than having a process to follow)

5- Teachers well being- stress was the maximum especially in the first days of lockdown, and I dont think that it was elevated as the whole world was under stress, but the teachers felt it more as they are responsible for those children in their virtual classrooms.  unfortunately we needed some processes to elevate stress such as reducing the class size or combining subjects etc, non of this did happen. the result is stressful times.

Back to TALIS, I wondered why only the UAE had participated in the report, I wish we have more information from other Arab countries.