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May 7, 2019

Reflections and experiences from the Chennai Fellow

Students participating in Just For Kicks.
Students participating in Just For Kicks.

The narrative from one of the Teach For India - Chennai Fellow, Meera is as follows:

"I believe that wherever I am today is because of the opportunities I got while growing up. I was blessed to have parents and teachers who believed in providing excellent education and gave me the opportunity to choose the path I wanted and supported me throughout the journey. Though I knew the fact that India is also amongst the countries which have not been able to provide even the basic elementary education to all our children despite the Right to Education.

But after seeing the reality, I realized why the numbers are all skewed. I decide to join the Teach For India fellowship to play my role in eliminating educational inequity and making sure that my students will become leaders one day. My experience during the past 20 months has been utterly gladdening. My students and I pushed each other to give our best in every task. I didn’t want the circumstances to affect the learning of my students Initially when I joined the school the average mastery of my class was 55% in Math (i.e. only 55 % of students had mastered the content of Math according to their grades) and 1.7 grade level in reading and writing (the average reading level of kids is equivalent to below grade 2 even if they study in class 6).

At the end of this year, they have achieved the mastery of 75% in Math and 3.7 in reading level. To maintain the idea of holistic learning, my school team and I started a lot of projects in the school and since we all believe not only academics are important but also the values and mindsets are very important for the students to grow as a leader. For academics, we prepare kids for Olympiads (30 students in math and 30 students in science participated and 2 students got selected for second round) conference and city level summit, Research project (How well Chennai knows about Electricity) submitted at City As Lab, is an annual, city-based research project undertaken by school children for 3-4 months, which culminates in a one-day conference event. I was a coordinator for under 12 boys and girls football team for Just For Kick's intervention to build life skills through football coaching.

We conduct the regular assessment and track their individual growth. We have organized regular Parent-Teacher meetings which impacted 120 parents across 3 classrooms, co-planned and executed lessons with 15 government teaching staff, established students committee of 8 students to solve the community-based problem. The most important thing for me is my students learning. When I see my students being curious, coming up with a great idea for projects. Students came u with the ideas like making biodegradable sanitary napkin, conducting a session for community women to make them empowered. These are some of the events will always make me feel about my students. I have faced a lot of challenges that emerged out of teaching in lower income government schools like lack of resources, exposure to various opportunities, self-motivation in children and faith of parents in education system, support from the Principal, and other school staff in holistic development, unavailability of proper mental space to study, violence in the community. To tackle all these challenges, I started setting goals for my students and slowly moved towards co-planning and now my students are motivated enough to set their own goals. Proper analysis of data and communicating each and every success of my class made my principal to trust me and the students. Taking up projects like Just For Kicks (intervention to build life skills in kids through football coaching), Dramebaaz (theatres for kids to showcase acting skills and be themselves), MaKER’s club (TFI led a space for students to share their knowledge, skills and interests), ties up with American International School, Taramani and Artmozo have given a lot opportunities to my students. Through effective team management, rigorous planning, effective execution, time management and resourcefulness I further strengthened the parents and staff investment."

Apr 29, 2019

Camp Diaries building life skills in classrooms

The Project ‘Camp Diaries' was initiated to nurture the underprivileged kids with some extracurricular skills such as music, dance, art & others through some volunteers. Each child deserves to write their own story and follow their passion. The aim is that each kid leaves with a zeal to pursue them. Under our mentorship, kids organize camps in primary schools & volunteer to teach these skills and art form to their juniors.The skills also include public speaking, fine arts, photography, videography and others.The project has seen a huge success as it enabled students to not only live their passion but also honed their creative expression and interpersonal skills. The most significant part of this initiative was the small kids found some curiosity in some other activities apart from studies & it was also helping them to be happy in their daily turmoil of family & community issues. It also helped in establishing a bonding between the senior & junior classes & in between students of particular area of interest. Such was the reach of the project that Fellows from Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Pune also replicated the concept in their classrooms and observed impressive results in learning patterns and enthusiasm level in students. The best part of the project is, once briefed; students drive it themselves with rigour making it a point that their juniors get the essence of the concept and carry forward the legacy of it to future classrooms.

Feb 27, 2019

Teach For India turns 10!

TFI's 10th year logos designed by students
TFI's 10th year logos designed by students

As Teach For India celebrates its 10th year, we are truly grateful to you for having embarked on this journey with us. Summarising the progress that we have made and the challenges we have faced last quarter – The three most important areas where we've learned and made improvements are:

1. The relay model has been working and our students are being prepared for life in the real world as they graduate.

2. Our Alumni are feeling strongly about systemic change with the Alumni leaders spread across various sectors and levels within schools and communities, leading social impact organisations, and driving change within the Government.

3. We are focusing on our need for innovation in order to reach our Phase 3 (2017-2022) goal of impacting 1 million kids by 2022. Our innovation cell project, TFIx, is supporting entrepreneurs to adapt the TFI Fellowship model and launch leadership Fellowships across India.

In this quarter, we will strengthen the organization to make it safer, fairer, and more supportive of the communities that we operate in.

1. Reimagine policies & training: This initiative is being led by our Chief Operating Ocer, Ritu. Our vision and goal are to implement sustainable behavioural changes and look at this holistically; from policy reviews to learning and development-oriented trainings for all operational sta, fellows and individuals as well as preventive measures for the future, monitoring and evaluation, recourse measures for our people and closing the loop with them. We are evaluating the Sexual harassment policy, the Child Protection Policy and the Fellow Code of Conduct in this quarter.

2. Fellowship Program: We will reassess the breadth of programmatic support needed by our Fellows with an aim of maximising impact on students, while maintaining a focus on the well-being of our Fellows.

3. Organisational Health: We will undertake a deep dive to uncover any additional root causes that can impact organizational strengthening; our Strategy and Learning team will lead an eort in partnership with Mckinsey & Co., to diagnose our organisation’s health. The recommendations from this study, which will end in Feb 2019, will feed into medium term changes designed to strengthen our culture and organizational backbone.

The impact of Teach For India’s programs is evident across all stakeholders

Impact of the program on the students : A Longitudinal study done in collaboration with Columbia University and Educational Initiatives suggests that Teach For India students perform 7 times better in language and twice as better in Math as compared to their peers. In 2016 , our first batch of students appeared for their Grade 10 exams and secured a pass rate of 94%. In 2017, the second cohort achieved a pass rate of 96%.

Impact of the program on Fellows: While joining the Fellowship only 9% of the Fellows state that they will continue in the development sector post the Fellowship. We’ve observed that as Alumni, over 74% remain in the development sector, thus making Teach For India one of the largest talent providers in the space.

Impact of the program on our Alumni :  Our Alumni have created impact through positions of leadership and influence at all levels of the education ecosystem. We incubate Alumni entrepreneurs, support the growth of Alumni-led projects and learning communities and create platforms to foster connection and collaboration.

  1. InnovatED incubates early-stage education entrepreneurs in a 9-month program that includes financial support, mentorship and in-person bootcamps. Our Alumni have already set up more than 35 start-ups in the field of education.
  2. The Alumni Leadership Incubator, creates opportunities and provides the financial assistance, mentorship and skill-building for Alumni to work in positions from school leadership to roles within the state governments. Through this program, our Alumni work as Assistant School Leaders in the system, and are placed directly within the government system.
  3. Teach For India Connect is a digital platform that connects our growing community of 2500 Alumni in a common virtual space. Launched just three months ago, Teach For India Connect already has approximately 1200 Alumni connecting to have greater impact. 

While the Fellowship and Alumni Continuum remain the core leadership development funnel, we’ve constantly innovated and designed solutions to scale and develop a critical mass of leaders within and outside the sector to affect change

 To address scale and rural India, we’ve innovated with a pilot – TFIx - that develops leaders committed to educating every child, in every corner of the country. Through a year-long incubation program and a life-long community of support, we enable entrepreneurs to launch and sustain independent, high-impact Fellowships to build local leadership.TFIx advances beyond urban metropolises and English-medium contexts, reaching states such as Bihar, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh. This year, the first batch of TFIx Alumni was launched. It contained 8 TFIx Alumni, branching out to 200 Fellows impacting 29,000 students.Read about TFIx's 2018 Cohort.

 The Kids Education Revolution is a committed collective of schools and educational organizations that are working towards reimagining education at scale and are driven by a profound belief in the power of student leadership. Kids Education Revolution (KER) supports a student-led re-imagination of education. The KER team focuses on sparking the idea of student-led change through a series of workshops, regional Summits, and a student-led National Summit highlighting the work of partnering schools and organizations such as Avasara Academy, Akanksha Foundation and many more. Read about the many KER workshops held

 Our Online Teacher training portal- Firki enables teachers across the country to access an open-source, online teacjer training portal to support their professional development. Firki’s portal constitutes over 60 courses with engaging content, video based learning, web application, and enables interaction among educators. Read about the evolution of Firki.

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