Jun 5, 2021

Progress of TFI's Blended Learning Program

Delhi Fellow
Delhi Fellow

During the last quarter of 2020-21, we witnessed our Fellows and Students return to classrooms safely and courageously. At the beginning of March, it was heartening to see the students, who we were able to reach, receive 18 hours of instructional time per week – almost double, compared to December. In some of our schools in Hyderabad, between February and mid-March, we witnessed a spike in the attendance of our students in physical classes from 40% to 70%. In Delhi, the increase was even more pronounced - from 12% to 95% attendance.

Given current circumstances - rising cases and increased restrictions, we are back to virtual spaces to ensure that our students bridge the learning gap. We are focusing on the safety of our community, and resuming relief operations to support the families in need.

 

At an organization level , we are seeing progress in the wellbeing & engagement metrics we track:

• Wellbeing: 97% of our students (who are reachable) are healthy, feel safe or have ration at home

• Instruction hours: Our students are receiving an average of 18 hours of synchronous and asynchronous learning

• Attendance and Engagement:

72% of our students are able to access learning through blended experiences

68% of our students are attending at least 1 synchronous class per week

58% of our students are engaging with at least one asynchronous packet each week

 

With our experience of about a year of virtual and hybrid teaching, we have observed the following best practices:

• Enrolling parents as equal partners in the learning journey

As students spend more time at home, the role of parents in mediating learning has become increasingly important. In classrooms where student attendance to online spaces engagement with learning material was high, we noticed that Fellows had spent a significant portion of time investing parents. In these classrooms, Fellows co-created goals with parents, created structures to consistently update parents on their child's performance and created multiple spaces to interact with parents both virtually and in - person (wherever it was safe enough).

• Creating a conducive schedule for learning

There are multiple factors that influence student attendance, engagement and learning in a blended environment. Some of these are

1. Availability of the device during the day

2. The Student’s schedule at home

3. Level of independence of the Student

4. Consistency of support at home

Keeping these factors in mind, creating an optimum schedule for learning for the week was one of the most important practices with blended instruction. Classrooms with high levels of attendance, engagement and learning often had weekly schedules specifically created to address the above factors. Students were called in different shifts based on the availability of devices. Fellows took intentional calls about what material needed to be done synchronously and asynchronously based on the nature of the content and the Students' ability to learn independently. Some Fellows ensured that Students had opportunities to learn in smaller groups and some leveraged the support of volunteers to ensure that students had more touchpoints through the week.

Our Fellows have truly stepped up to overcome the challenges that the pandemic brought:

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, our Fellows pivoted to the virtual realm with astonishing agility and urgency, enabling many of our students to continue learning. While anything we say will fall short of their stupendous efforts, here are some stories as testaments to their unyielding spirit.

In March, Fellows in Chennai with the appropriate and recommended safety procedures conducted in-person meetings with their students’ parents to emphasize the need for attendance in virtual classrooms. The importance of online classes, the role parents play in bridging the educational gap, mental health, and what asynchronous and synchronous classes mean were some of the topics covered.

Megha, a 2020 Delhi Fellow, has been taking classes in two distinct parks since January to ensure that all children in her classroom can access in-person classes. She regularly travelled about 2.5 hours to reach these locations.

In early March, Ahmedabad conducted the first in-person space for Fellows. They did community visits where they spoke to parents, community leaders, Headmasters, and children.

Ahmedabad Fellow
Ahmedabad Fellow
Apr 21, 2021

Fighting Uncertainties

Our Fellow Srinivas narrates how this pandemic has changed our course of action and forced us to look at the 'impossible' as we adapt to the reality:

Uncertainty and complications was prevalent right through these months due to the lack of clarity and rumors about the status of schools resuming again. Initially the tenth graders were called back, and it looked like a sign that schools might gradually open up for other grades, and the assumption got more backing when the 9th and 11th graders were called back too. While all this was going around, we ensured to focus on our core which was to deliver quality content for our students irrespective of what the future holds and kept our community outreach intact by visiting our students and their families individually to understand what they are going through and formulating a collective idea about the situation in our community through these visits to execute our actions in accordance with our needs. We were constantly having discussions with our HM to keep her informed about the situations and happenings, and receive her inputs to plan next steps through our collective ideas. This practice ensured us to be informed and updated about our community and design milestones and course of actions for creating impact based on relevance rather than assumptions. We witnessed spike as well as consistency in learning as well as engagement from our students, in terms of attendance, learning and being involved.

Uncertainty and complications seemed to have become our new friends as we once again are in a phase were the Covid cases are rampant and on a rise after a period of subsiding, and this is followed by the elections around which only suggests that the long haul of waiting to step into schools is only likely to continue in the immediate future. Hence, we intend to continue with our community outreach and engagement ensuring safe practices and continue to deliver quality content for our students to learn and grow.

It’s been an unusual year, rather an unusual time in our lives that we never imagined before, and hence the nature of impact and transformation during this one year has been that way.

A remarkable impact would be our students exploring and exhibiting independence and their individuality which has been starkly contrasting to the previous years when they were unconsciously so dependent on their teachers for almost everything. It needs to be noted that this was a gradual process as the students were struggling and anxious during the initial weeks but strongly evolved through the process.

A batch of students have been able to enhance their communication skills and abilities as they could focus on spoken English this year, which was otherwise in the dark during a normal school year. The program helped to reap the desired results which is evident from the fact that one of our students enrolled in this program is tutoring her football coach in spoken English!

Lack of exam and assessment fears allowed a batch of students to comprehensively focus upon preparing for a competitive exams called NMMS exams to earn a scholarship. Some students in a different batch where excelling in exploring and analyzing scientific concepts by learning through experiments at home, which allowed them to participate and excel in an interschool competition called ‘Hydrathon’ held by the Rotary Club of Madras. A batch of students proficient in the field of arts exhibited their skills and talents in performing arts such as dancing, singing, gig, art and craft work, speech and more in platforms such as the weekly Madras Party and CSK (Chennai Students Kondattam) which are some initiatives conducted by Teach For India Fellows.

Last but not the least, these young adults played roles of responsibilities in supporting and running their families alongside their parents at a time of crisis and complexities.

Overall, the engagements this year has played the role of countering shock and helped in keeping our students learning curve in motion, which projects positive signs of them being equipped to ease into the transition of going back to schools as and when the environment is evaluated to be conducive for resumption of schools by concerned authorities.

I completed an internship last summer, wherein I was working with a group of unskilled labors to enhance their communication skills. Since then I have been working on short projects to build access and exposure for our students to build perspective about the society and world beyond their text books. One such project which was thoroughly fruitful was the ‘Wonder girls’ project.

In this project women excelling in various fields came to interact with our students to share about their journey in life and their careers, which was inspirational as well as instrumental in understanding different fields one could opt to make a career in as they grow up. It gave the opportunity for the students to look beyond their societal conditioning of taking up a job and earning money to meet the household needs. It also helped to think and dissolve gender biases strongly erected in our heads as a result of the conditioning from the societal structures we come from.

Rapidly adopting and tirelessly being on my toes to come up with actions and take decision would be the most fundamental of the positives aspects this year, as it was a year of indescribable uncertainties and complexities arising from the community we work with. The positives that has translated as a result has been deepening of trust, building meaningful relations not only with our students and families, but the stakeholders concerned with our school.

From 5% to about 50% attendance in classes, from despising learning to excelling in diverse opportunities, and from negligence to complete involvement we have come a very long way.

This year has been a year of exposure to our vulnerabilities and the dire need to look into ourselves and shed our ego and practice humility and humanness, towards which I could thankfully take a conscious effort.

Growing and maturing into my role has been at the forefront of the Fellowship experience for me this year. I have transformed as a teacher, not only in terms of delivering better content, but being able to feel and relate to my students in their pain as well as joy. I have become another person in the community we serve in rather than being the ‘other’.

As I reach the twilight of my Fellowship I am at a place where I am content and ready to shift gears to experience what life has got to offer and give whatever I could offer.

Apr 19, 2021

My Classroom Story

Christmas Gifts
Christmas Gifts

This time, we are sharing an update, straight from a Teach For India classroom. Here are some reflections a Grade 3 Fellow from Hyderabad has shared –

1. With school reopening in batches and in-person community visits, what have the past 3 months been like for you as a Fellow?

As a fellow, the initial online phase (Sept-Dec) was a big challenge for me considering the fact that the 3rd grade students were not used to the new normal. Since, my class was a Year 1 intervention classroom, I focused on setting up the culture, developing connections and making the students comfortable in an online space.  The students slowly picked up the pace, yet regular attendance was a pain-point. To solve this problem, I along with my Co-fellow implemented a hybrid teaching structure under the supervision of our Head Mistress.  In a week, initial 2 days were allotted for a physical space and remaining 4 days were online spaces. Owing to the structure, we saw drastic improvement in attendance numbers, connection with individual students, student’s performance, parent-teacher interaction and other stakeholder’s engagement. Holding physical spaces gave us an opportunity to do frequent community visits and gain a deeper insight on the existing Ed-inequity. Thus, the last 3 months were equally challenging and rewarding to me.

2. What impact has the class seen in this one year – what does the journey look like?

The class has seen its fair share of ups & downs in the journey so far. The journey gave us some eye-opening and enlightening moments to say the least.  The year was all about self-reflections and re-evaluating our choices to get an overall positive impact from each individual’s effort. The two biggest points of impact that our class saw was a significant growth in the student performance for those who attended regularly and second was a positive change in student behaviour owing to the Social and Emotional Learning classes they attended every weekend. The journey has just begun, we will see and hear more impactful stories in the years to come.

3. Please mention how has your journey in the classroom progressed in the classroom in the last 8 months?

My journey has been a collection of good, bad and ugly memories so far, a typical Hero’s Journey as described by Joseph Campbell. The last 8 months were a roller-coaster ride for me. The journey started with a lot of courage, hope, enthusiasm and a passion to do something for my country. As it progressed, I did face a lot of unprecedented challenges. The times were testing. I managed to get some overall stability in the later months. The classroom had an array of challenges, some of which were solved, some work-in-progress. It takes time to build and gain trust of students and other stakeholders especially in the times we are living right now, there’s no shortcut to this. From pin-drop silence to “bhaiyya can I share something”, the classroom dynamics have evolved. From “I don’t know you” to sharing tiffin and bringing surprises, the bond became stronger. Overall, there’s a significant growth. I see a huge potential in these kids and bright future for this classroom in the years ahead. 

My Grade 3 Classroom
My Grade 3 Classroom
 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.