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
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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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."

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Students posing with their drawing art
Students posing with their drawing art

Here is the narrative from Chennai Fellow Abhinaya on her experiences with the second year of Fellowship along with her students.

"It gives me great privilege and pride in sharing my journey with Teach For India so far. I am Abhinaya, an Engineer in Computer Science, who worked in the corporate sector for two years. My passion to work with children with special needs gave me the courage to quit my well-paying IT job and follow my dreams of becoming a special educator. I pursued my Post Graduate Diploma in Special needs and worked as a special educator for two years before joining Teach For India, to be part of a greater movement.

Working with Teach For India has been one of the greatest experiences for me so far. Working with my school, the community and the organisation has shaped me into an open-minded and positive person. My 17 9-year-old students inspire me each day and from them, I have learnt that nothing is impossible. The journey has taught me the rewards of hard work and the importance of consistency. All the challenges I have faced have shaped me into who I am today and I strongly believe that it’s a continuous process.

Facing the daily challenges, travelling through the ups and downs definitely has made me a stronger person. My school saw a sudden drop in attendance and a huge drop in enrolment when my fellowship started. This was due to the migration of a huge chunk of the community to a different area which had more facilities. I started my fellowship with low enrolment and attendance which had gradually improved. I find that my students are present at school almost all days and engage in high rigour content. Their interest in education and involvement has improved. Their love for the English language has helped them become creative and expressive. Now, my students proudly walk to me and tell me on how they have now begun to think in English and express their thoughts accordingly. They feel extremely proud of themselves.

Apart from academics, my students have always shown interest in arts, sports and reading books. They have grown more responsible and I can clearly see them shaping into conscious citizens, who want to change the future. They actively engage in topics that involve persisting issues such as pollution, alcohol abuse, lack of justice, equality and so on. They participate in competitions willingly and do not hesitate to express themselves in front of an audience. The major challenge I faced initially as a fellow was low attendance. Since I was born and brought up in Chennai, language was never a barrier. The parents were not so invested as they had other pressing issues to address on a daily basis, and lack of education for their kids was of least importance to them. But after the first few months of my fellowship, my students and their parents got more familiar with me and things began to change.  As a teacher, I made sure they saw the growth of their child, no matter how small it was. I notice that the investment from parents is slowly beginning to shift.

Apart from parent investment, there were other reasons which resulted in low attendance, such as poor nourishment resulting in low immunity, child labour and so on. With consistency, I sincerely hope we, as a school team, are able to overcome the other challenges faced by the children in the community. Each day has been as rewarding as much as it has been challenging. My rewards come with beautiful moments - every time I walk into the school a bunch of kids come running to me just to wish me and then I see a spurt of hands raised high up whenever I ask a question in the class.

I can never forget the day when my dyslexic student had come to me after the class to say he had got all his ‘addition sums’ right, and he had his friend proudly walking beside him to say he helped him. It feels so good whenever my kids tell me how they have begun to think in English and how it is helping them to express themselves better. Seeing the pride and smile on their faces when they receive a small appreciation or get something right, I feel that I found my secret ingredient behind my lovely so far. I am sure that all these moments will be etched into my memories forever."

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Students in a Socio-emotional learning circle
Students in a Socio-emotional learning circle

Here is a narrative from our Chennai Fellow Aarthi on her Fellowship experiences.

"The Fellowship has been a very gratifying and challenging experience for me. My classroom and I have grown in the past four months in terms of academic excellence, relationship building and values, and I look forward to the remaining two terms with my children with utmost zest and hope. 

We’ve been having Olympiad classes in English and Math for the past two months after classes. The children engage in peer-learning (Students learning from each other leveraging each other’s skills and knowledge), with minimal teacher intervention.

We have an on-going project on Socio-Emotional Learning in collaboration with the Thrive Foundation, Chennai. The project aims to educate children about their emotions and equip them to channelize their emotions in a better way without getting agitated and reckless. The children have been responding well to the sessions and we’ve incorporated the learnings from these sessions into our classrooms as well.

We also worked on an International project, called “Go Ladli” for our non-TFI high school girls to empower them about women-centric issues and problem-solving. Five of our girls worked on women issues in their communities by collecting data, processing the data, coming up with solutions on their own and submitting the report. We’re excited to inform you that all of them have been selected to the National top 10. They have all finished their personal interviews with their mentors from the US and are awaiting final results.

This incredible journey hasn’t been without challenges of their own. One of the biggest challenges was the influx of 10 new children in my second year whose RC levels were below 0 and absolutely knew no English. It was difficult to orient them to the classroom with most children at an RC level above 2 and the medium of instruction was largely English. But we met this challenge as a class team by mapping every new child with another higher-RC order student of the class for peer-support after and during class.

I would like to share my most exciting day from this term.  I had a Learning Circle with my children on Transgenders. The objective was to sensitize my children on the basic human rights of transgenders. I showed them some videos highlighting the role of transgenders in our community in various workplaces and the discrimination they face on a day to day basis. Then we had a discussion as a whole group sharing our perspectives and experiences on the same. After a week my children came up with a brilliant skit on the life of transgenders. The script was original and it was thought-provoking and inspiring.  I was stunned witnessing the immense impact a small classroom discussion can have in the mindset building of children."

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Teach For India

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