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 Education  India Project #20912

Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai

by Teach For India
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Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai
Excellent education for 3800+ students in Chennai

It has been more than four months now since schools closed across 190 countries, affecting more than 90% of the world’s student population. 32,000 Teach For India children have been out of school since then. While these prolonged school closures are threatening to exacerbate the existing inequalities, they have also presented us with a new idea – that children could learn beyond school

Our organization and Fellows are embarking on this journey of discovery to develop innovative teachers and robust infrastructure to enable our children to learn beyond school. Our teams have spent months researching, using new pedagogies, creating inclusive learning models, running virtual teaching pilots and gathering important lessons on the use of technology to move to a new normal. All of this has only strengthened our belief in the power and opportunity that blended learning brings for our children. We now have the potential to bridge the digital divide that has long contrasted income groups. With technology, we’re presented with limitless chances to differentiate, provide personalized instruction, and envision an educational system that transcends the boundaries of school. Perhaps for the first time ever, this new type of learning could be a true equalizer for all children.

To put this into effect, our Fellows are following a comprehensive teaching method - Blended Learning (a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning). One of our Fellows, Porvika Bala, narrates how she went about the entire process since the last 3 months -

"My students’ community reported their first COVID case very early on, by mid march. Since then I’ve distributed grocery and hygiene supplies for my students twice, through Teach for India. Mental wellbeing of the students also took a hit, and many of them reported feeling very lonely and missing their friends. To help with this, I allotted time for Socio-emotional learning during our Zoom classes, and I create space for them to play, chat and share with their friends every single day.

One of the earliest classes I took for my students was about the COVID 19 situation - statistics, precautions and how we can do our part. We brainstormed ways in which we could spread awareness to our family and community. They produced several ideas without my assistance and implemented them with the help of their parents and siblings. Some of these include drawing creative rangolis at their doorsteps, creating funny videos to share with people they know and sticking posters around their house.

Due to the delayed reopening of schools and the potential of online learning, my biggest priorities are parent investment and personalized learning. To that end, I have been in regular touch with my students’ parents, Headmistress, conducting Parent-Teacher Meetings and receiving feedback.

Some of the biggest challenges are - getting children to engage, gauging how much they understand, and attendance. Several children keep videos off/leave the call in between and it's not always possible to figure out why. Also, completion of homework is a challenge, coupled with parents and siblings helping out - ultimately data isn't very reliable on how much they understood. Attendance is also difficult, due to network, only one device, interest levels, etc.

One of the things going really well in the virtual classroom is differentiating learning for kids and individual attention, since I'm able to split them into groups. I'm able to talk to each of them without much interruptions. Another thing that has been working out is literacy (since kids have to type and read a bit), for a fraction of the kids English has improved. "

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City updates - Chennai:

Chennai Students Kondattam is the largest Fellow-led event organized by Teach For India - Chennai. With an annual participation of 3000+ students spanning over the two days, it was a remarkable success this year.
While the stage was set beautifully by all our stakeholders, our students leveraged the opportunity well to maximize their learning and to showcase all their incredible talents.

Teach For India’s Response To COVID-19:

Our Staff, Fellows, and Student communities have been tirelessly working during these tough times. Over the past 3 weeks, through sustained and dedicated effort, our Fellows, have managed to get in touch with 70% of our students and their families. We have been looking to understand how these families are doing in terms of physical health, availability of essential supplies, housing, finances and access to learning. We are continuously working to identify the families most in need of assistance so we can use our emergency fund to help them. We are also preparing for the possibility that schools may remain closed for some time, and so we are working on a plan to help our children learn virtually.

Anantharaman and his school team identified the requirements in North Chennai Cluster and got onto to grounds in distributing food packets and essential kits (in collaboration with Yein Udaan). Immediate financial and medical needs of the community was attended to. Families in need of help for paying rent were directed to external support system.

 

Fellow Narrative from Mr. Srinivas Subramanian:

As the academic year comes to an end, I take this opportunity to extend my deepest gratitude from the bottom of my heart. The last term whizzed in a flash as the students were filled with all-round activities right from their academic calendar to extracurricular activities like their yearly ‘Chennai student Kondattam (CSK)’ . As they
were rigorously preparing for their term end exams to finish their year on a high, things halted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic taking over the globe.The focus shifted primarily towards working on the enhancement of the students reading and writing skills as they are moving to their 9th grade. Students indulged in systematic and consistent practice of reading various books apart from their school texts and were in the process of mastering their abilities to write a book review.


They have made considerable progress as it is evident from the tracker they use to record their reading routine, and they are better organized when they write their book review. Based on the tests they have taken
for mastering their other subjects, there are 30% students who fair between 65-85%, 30% students who fair between 35-65% and the rest have been working to the best of their abilities and have shown their ability to
pass their papers.

One of the big milestone which the student indulged in for enhancing their access and exposure was through their participation in rural-urban exchange program that took place between our school and Anna Gem Private school. Students from both the schools got the opportunity to visit each other's school and they got to learn a lot through academic and cultural activities organized at both the schools.The visit also allowed them to build their perspective about the country's education system in general by comparing the education system in both a public and private set up. They went on to expand their friends circle as children from both the schools went on to become friends by the end of the program.

In continuation to enhancing their reading abilities and develop a love for reading, the students took on an additional responsibility to help their peers in 3rd grade primary school by sharing their knowledge about
reading words and whole sentences. As the project kicked off the students shared additional skills with their buddies in 3rd grade by teaching the art, colouring and painting. They also did some craft work together by sharing their knowledge of making a bird nest which they had learnt in their previous term. The children also
helped their little buddies in making them realize the etiquettes that needs to be maintained in a classroom to allow a wholesome learning experience both for the teachers and the students. The students took their buddy role responsibly, and it was visible from the interactions they continued to have during their break hours apart from the regular weekly visits during which they met. Our children on the other hand began to grow in terms of responsibility, maturity and ownership.

Taking career guidance coaching for students of 8th grade was something that was exciting and thrilling for me to conduct during this term as it was unique and the whole of our 8th grade together for this. No day was fixed and the situation necessitated for us to be on our toes, ready to innovate and enhance to keep up with
the uncertainties that was throwing up. We could get through this as a result of combined efforts we put up as a school team including other teachers like me!

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Model worksheet created by one of the students!
Model worksheet created by one of the students!

At Teach For India, every Fellow goes through a leadership journey with the students, overcoming the challenges and contributing their best to the growth of the students.

One of our Fellow, Dinesh from the 2018 Cohort reflects on his experience over the past term with his students.

"The Fellowship has been the greatest experience I have ever had in my life. So far, I felt like I’m someone who took from the society. Now, I feel satisfied to give back to the society through this fellowship. I am able to see many changes in the students’ lives and I have lots of hope for their future. 

The second term of this academic year is a great leap in my Fellowship journey. I feel satisfied with the growth in the academics, values and mindsets of the students. Last term, I realized one of the flaws that limited students learning -- students don’t have space to try their answer in written format. This term I have circulated all the students with worksheet for every chapter which will have questions from inside the chapter, questions behind every Chapter in the book and thinking questions related to the topics. Through this worksheet students got a space to try answering the questions through writing. They can try writing answers to question multiple times until it gets perfect as they use pencils for worksheets.

Because of the practice of using worksheets, 90% of the students scored ~10% marks higher than last term. Now students are able to read and comprehend the question, and write and then answer appropriately. I was able to witness the answers coming from the students are more specific with examples and clarity (when we have oral quiz).

 Initially, the students were less aware of resources and the proper way of using the same. But after assigning them with responsibilities they are operating in a completely different way. The responsibilities for library and computer lab maintenance, completion and keeping the worksheet safe made them more accountable, responsible and cautious about the resources. Students began to stay back after school saying if I go home early, I would waste my time. They also started to teach their parents about the importance of resources and the urgent need of limiting the wastage.

The big idea I’m having for third term is preparing a workbook instead of a worksheet, at the same time upskilling the students to make their own workbook. For skill building, I tried piloting the worksheet making for few chapters in term two, 60% of the students were able to drew ideas from the previous worksheets and make a worksheet for any chapter by themselves.

Most exciting and memorable moment for me as a teacher is when the students with less academic score last term showed better result during this term end assessments. The reducing number of issues related to bullying and complaining about others’ actions has reduced because every student is occupied doing their worksheets.

The challenging moment for me this term is dealing with students who had learning disability. By continual effort they were able to score above 15%, which again is a milestone for me in this year."

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Active learning ecosystem in the classroom!
Active learning ecosystem in the classroom!

2019 Fellow Shugeeth shared his reflections & learnings for the past 5 months in his classroom as a teacher:

"Teaching has always been my passion and I am thankful to Teach For India for giving me this opportunity to live that passion. It will be difficult for us to function without the sincere and consistent support of donors and supporters, so I express my most sincere gratitude for supporting us. Heartfelt thank you.

Though I started working with passion, I was hit hard by the harsh reality of inequality in the education. I have taken necessary steps to observe the class and its requirements so far. I have students coming from a varied spectrum of society and understood that a single mode of delivery of content will not suffice to justify education to them. I am looking forward for the next term, to provide better opportunities for them to learn in different ways possible.

For the past one term, the best I have accomplished is to create the thirst for knowledge in my classroom. The students have created an interest to learn and listen to mathematics and science classes. I can positively say that my ‘Introduction to New Materials’ sessions are comprehensive -- all 43 students in my class not only listen but also participate in the classroom session. They are getting more curious every day and this has improved their academic performances. They still face problems in formulating their ideas into statements in exams, this will be worked on priority in the second term.

The students are exposed to a wide variety of activities and competition. The class motto is “to understand our voice and let it be heard by the world. Winning or Losing doesn’t matter”. On that note, we have worked to get students compete in competitions and have encouraged them to participate without thinking about results. This has enabled them to see how the society functions outside the school and the many challenges they have to face once they leave school.

Few of the projects and competitions that we have been a part of this term are,

Go Laadli(Lead like a girl) – This is college scholarship opportunity for school girls. The girl student identifies a girl/woman-centric problem prevalent in India or in her community in particular and proposes a solution to address it. 5 girls from our school have been trained by us in Problem Identification, Root cause analysis and Decision making to help them create the right mindset to address and solve any pressing woman-centric problems in their community. We have presented their solutions to Go Laadli and are waiting for the results. Problems and solution vary from ‘Creating community centers to support girls in education’ to ‘addressing high numbers of alcoholic fathers’.

Lets Read Campaign - Let's READ is United Way Mumbai's nationwide initiative, which aims to nurture a love for books and reading among children who cannot afford access to books of their own. We had them conducting a session in reading and log keeping of what has been read. The highlight of the session was the STORY NARRATION by KadhaiSolli VIKRAM. It was amazing and my students enjoyed it a lot.

Olympiad Exams by SOF(Science Olympiad Foundation) - The Olympiad exams are competition for students of class 1 to class 12 in Math, Science, General Knowledge, English and Cyber. It is conducted by Science Olympiad Foundation (SOF) with the aim of identifying and nurturing future scientists, technologists and IT talent at school level. We have trained them for their various exams and they are going to write the GK Olympiad exam at the end of the term I.

Wings To Fly – Wings to Fly is a Rotary Club of Madras East (RCME) initiative. Every year they take up either science or Language and conduct competitions to identify the best qualifying students in the city. This year it is Elocution (Speech competition), and we have trained 3 students and have presented them as our school candidates. The city-level winners will be decided in the competition that happens in the second term.

My most exciting moment in the class has been sometime in the mid of the term when I saw my least active students in the class participating in the class lectures and answering questions. The Montessori way of teaching says that once we trigger the child’s curiosity the child learns on his/her own. Hence I consider this as my first victory. In order to create this inclusiveness I had to design my class lectures differentially, it always had something for the higher order kids and everything for the lower order kids."

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Every Fellow at Teach For India, craft their unique experience of Fellowship journey with their students! Please read the leadership experiences of our Year 2 Fellow, Sankirtana.

"My journey so far has been one filled with learnings of all kinds. Right from being immensely solution oriented, to enhancing the skill of execution, to vision casting, to planning, to balancing care and candor, every aspect of my life has undergone a revamp, in a meaningful way.

In the classrooms I teach, I have seen a holistic improvement in my children’s approach to studying as such. In Science especially, I have noticed a huge improvement in students taking up real life application projects of their own accord that led to increased investment in classes s as to implement heir learnings in real world situations.

The students conducted a Science seminar in the first term under the guidance of my then co-fellow and myself. Through this, we saw a lot of positive shifts In terms of student accountability, student leadership and ownership, apart from increased interest in Science as a subject.

During my first term, I conducted a school level seminar on Independence Day through which students spoke about the diversity in Indian culture, by highlighting different aspects of 9 different states in India. This included them conducting research, gathering information and dressing up in the traditional attire of that state. To top things off, the students conducted a quiz for all attendees to highlight the importance of the National Anthem. 

I think my most exciting moment last year has been the following: I had a student in my class who’d consistently seemed disinterested. At one point, due to her family circumstances, I visited her house and had a conversation with her. Post this, noticing that she had a teacher who cared, she had a tremendous improvement in Reading Comprehension. I hope such student impact is possible with the continuous support of everyone."

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Teach For India

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra - India
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Twitter: @teachforindia
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Merlyn Fernandes
Chennai, Tamil Nadu India
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