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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Story in Eliminating Education Inequity in India .!

Hello Everyone,

I am Ritesh. I am a TFI - Fellow 2009.

TFI is a Movement which aims for addressing the Education inequity and the "acheivement gap" created thereon, for the Underprivileged, Low Income English Medium Schools in India.It is based on TFA Model (Teach for America ), with Funding from Dell & Susan Foundation. Times of India is also an active Partner . ( ( ..

Teach For India

I am here because: 1. I like Teaching 2. I Want to Contribute

I strongly believe that, Right Education would form the basis of Our " Social , Scientific ,Cultural & Poltical responses to ALL issues Our Country is facing Currently. Proper Livelihood is everyones right , it can be ensured through Sound Educational Base.As citizens Of this Great Country , it is high time we start owning Our Responsiblity. I have myself Come through a very tough Path , I always wish that I Can contribute . To back it up , I have a decent academic Record , & i am highly motivated to do this.....

The TFI institute - Training.

It was a very humbling experience to be in the midst of higly Energetic , richly talented, immensely positive group of -94 Fellows ,selected for the first batch of TFI 2009.

Week One- It was just as a week of getting into "Feel of things ".

We visted an Underprivileged locality at Shivajinagar - to know what it takes to be there. We tried to get into Sychic of Childeren in Underprivileged conftions , their intersts , their Expectations , their challange , their definitions of right or wrong - Mind you some of us Virtually collasped on that Hot day , some did not know what it was all about , some were wondering what is education enquity - is it a social khadi clad socuial workers job -or Young Smart Professionals /College grads that we were ......well more to come the NEXT.

We had Group tASKS , -to earn 10 Rs.(with virtualy any investment ) , To feed Children (without buying food ), To act out a street play (without -a plot or doing an act) , To Clean up Garbage and Make something Meaningful out of it (without using a dumper or using paid mAZDOORS).To everyones sutprise -No one said a NO .Everyone was so involved , it seemed , that was it -- this is the spirit ,this is the intention and the game was all one ;-)))))))))))

Next Started the Gruesome summer school.

The Summer School

Fellows from Two City locations - Pune and Mumbai , were allocated two schools - from the city to Teach at Special Summer school aarranged for us . Within a city - there was a further subdivision into COllabrative Group - A Group of 4 different indiviuals ...with Guides - Programme Associates - to each of them.

A typical Routine at TFI Summer School would be:

A Sample Day at Institute

6:30-7:00 am: Breakfast

7:00-8:00 am: Travel to summer school / set-up classroom

8:00-12:00 pm: Teaching assigned class / debrief with mentor / observation of other Fellows’ teaching

12:00-1:30 pm: Travel back to Institute / Lunch

1:30-4:30pm: Lecture on Basic cycle of learning and setting goals for achievement

4:30-5:30 pm: Small-group structured work time

5:30-7.30 pm: Lesson planning / preparing for next day’s teaching

7:30-8:30 pm: Dinner

8:30-10:30 pm: Creating and using resources in low-income settingsWake up at

What Do we teach at Summer school !!!!

Diagnostic -to cheque what children Know.

Objectives - was to cheque, What children should Know.

It was based On Educational Initiatives -A comapny which is supposed to have done lot Hard work on Child Learning .As they said around 16000 students FROM affluent schools ahd taken their test . The same test was given to these Underprivileged children Strugling to have a decent Education as well as Livelihood.

Target - % Growth in learning at the END of the Institute as compared to when it started.

Why summer School?

>> Need of summer School: To put it straight forward, it was a training for the Fellows to know what they are, what they have to be . It is easy to be the best and the most talented prospect for a Company, it is easy to be from a good educational institute.However when it Comes to KIDS. It is a real Challenge.

It was not that the Content was something we did not know (Of course some of us - were having little shivers in 3 rd grade MATHS:D )Issues were:

1. Behaviour Management – How to connect! How to converse in the KIDS Language.

2. Language Barrier: How to deliver, kids would simply not understand – a stand up or sit down , they would not know what is "Face the class ", they would be unaware that a Crow is actually A Kowa!!

3.Time Management: How to create sense of urgency ! How to effectively utilize the time

Moreover it was Summer School, which made us realize, that we may be " so called Bright and Shinning" but there are lot of things, which we needed to learn before we step into real class room.

Summer School training was one of the most IMPORTANT aspects in building up Confident Teachers.

Training at the Summer Institute

In retrospective it was a relevant training given the Fellows were from divergent backgrounds , having varied personal and professional experience ,the training provided a stage for common thinking and uniformity in delivering the BIG GOAL of TFI.

As a Critical and Logical thinker, I DID HAVE lot of issues with the training at the institute. Mainly:

>> 1. Excessive Stress on English Education: When we are talking of education – I think we should have focused more on content & Investment (Class room ,school , community , student & Parent ) , rather than on the mode of education. What was even more intriguing , was the fact that there was no discussion on “science” “Maths“ or “ Moral Fabric” to be churned to the recipients of the change.

>> 2. Excessive Emotions: As a person who has struggled to i) understand concepts from books , ii) to find right books iii) to find right teachers , I realize the problem of “Primary Education “ is really HUGE .In addition to that when Focus of TFI is on under resourced schools and deprived community the Problems becomes Quadrupled. In such a scenario it becomes all the more important to be less emotional and more professional - I guess (in my humble opinion the professionalism part had taken a back seat, at many critical and crucial sessions).

>> 3. Quality of trainers: One fundamental flaw in the training was, the “Real on the job Experience“ of the trainers .Knowledge , and training are two different aspects . Another factor to account for in this is the back ground of trainer . One may be an excellent professor of English literature at a reputed university but can he be a ‘trainer‘ for people who have to work in really challenging situation . Also Training Modules were not adapted entirely to the context of the working Communities and schools. More theoretical and less Practical .

>> 4. Lack of Discussion: The “why” of training was missing!! Many a times fellows would be blank on why a particular session was being done ? The free flow of ideas seemed lost somewhere between a big crowd of 90 people and time tight sessions.

Teaching As Leadership (TAL)

The Training Focussed around the central theme Teaching is leadership.

A Leader:

1.Sets a vision

2.Invests the team



5.Works relentlessly

6.Reflects and Improves

Does not a teacher do the same?

In a nut shell a TFI training : (source : TFI)

1. Provide Fellows with the foundational tools and content knowledge necessary to raise student achievement and close the educational gap.

2. Prepare Fellows for the many challenges they will face within their classrooms, schools, and communities.

3.Develop mindsets that are centered around rigor, perseverance, resilience, leadership, and results.

4. Instill Teach For India’s core values and inculcate a sense of service.

5. Invest Fellows in Teach For India’s mission and foster the development of a network of support.

Components OF TRAINING

1. Curriculum sessions:

Focused on specific objectives within Teaching As Leadership principles

At least 1 session everyday

2. Language and literacy sessions:

Sessions focused on teaching reading and writing to students in primary school

2-4 sessions per week

3. Large group PA sessions:

Builds on and reinforces material covered in the curriculum sessions

3-4 sessions per week

4. PA(under the guide of a Programme associate) reflection sessions:

Time for reflection on material covered during the day and feedback

1 session per day

5.Content Sessions

Specific instruction techniques for teaching math, science and social science for primary school Sessions at frequent intervals during institute

6. Other sessions

Observation debrief session

Lesson planning clinics

Workshops and Leadership Forums

Apart from the TFI in house training it was a wonderful to attend many "workshops" and "leadership forums"

Workshops were designed to provide specific instructional guidance.

Importance of using assessments was amicably brought home by Sridhar Rajagopalan (of Educational Initiatives.

The differentiation skills : how kids having different learning abilities. different temperaments ,Varied learning skills and speeds could be dealt in the same class simultaneously was taken up by Kiran Sethi - from Riverside School Ahmedabad.

Other Work shops that Fellows had to attend were by:
§Devika Nadig and Vijay Gupta: Shikshangan : layout of the State Board content §Shalini Sachdev: Akanksha school leader : Student Investment Strategy §Mahalakshmi: Akanksha school leaders program : Dealing with Expectations §Max Evans: Akanksha school leaders program : Effective lesson Planning §Ashish Rajpal: iDiscoveri : Checks for Understanding ! " Science strategies §Anjali Sabnani: Akanksha : Effective Communication strategies Purvi vora : Akansha : Literacy strategie

Leadership forums were ones where the Fellows had opportunity to earn,ask and discuss with leaders from the field of education and the social sector

Fellows have had sessions with:
Dr. Mahshelkar Aamir khan Nandita Das Aditya Natraj : Gandhi fellowship Roopal ,Dev Tayde,Nidhi , Anand Shah :Indi Corps

IMPACT of Leadership Forums and Workshops
Of course when an ordinary Chemical Engineer like me is able to listen to talk and discuss with a Person Like Dr. Mashelkar who has just 26 HONORARY Doctorates,An eminent chemical engineering scientist,DG of CSIR ,Tata Corporate leadership award ,Padmashree,Padmabhusan.You feel very very Proud, that you made a decision to be at TFI. People like ASHISH RAJPAL and SRIDHAR Rajgopal were my personal Favourites , Silently I Intend to be One of them, one day in Near futur!

Oh! did I forget to flaunt?
Some of us were allowed to stay at one of the directors house after the training, till we could find our accommodation!Mind you,tht person was so so gracious, so magnanimous.We were simply impressed or felt dumb with admiration and respect!

TFI is too COOOL! and we r lucky !! we thought !!

This would End the TFI summer raining.

Next Blog --- brings the real stufff !!!!!!!! teaching ...yupee ...