A new academic year has begun in our five schools, and the Turning Schools Around project is entering its final phase. Thus far, the progress made has been heartening – we have seen much change in many different aspects of all five schools. The schools are brighter, cleaner spaces and, the noise levels in schools and in classes have reduced. Teachers plan regularly and make use of the resources available to them and the heads of school are more involved than ever in overseeing planning sessions and observing classes. Teaching strategies include the use of pair-work and group work and include the use of activity sheets. A few senior teachers in each school have been chosen to be change coordinators. They help their peers to plan their lesson & create supporting materials – teaching aids, worksheets & assessment sheets.
Though much change can be observed in the learning environment and in teaching practices, these changes have not yet been significantly reflected in measures of student achievement. Thus, despite the change that is already evident, the TSA team has much to do this year. We plan to focus our efforts on a few key areas, in the hope that this directed and sustained effort will help improve student outcomes. Although our focus will continue to be at the teacher-level, we will be trying to strike a fine balance between providing teachers with rich and relevant inputs and helping them work independently within their school units.
Subject Specific Tutorials
We have decided to begin with content enrichment tutorials for teachers in English and Mathematics, since changes in these areas seem to predict changes in other core subjects. These tutorials have been divided into two parts. In the first part, the teachers experience the lesson as the learners would, and in the second part, the teachers analyze the demonstrated lesson and spend time planning lessons for their own classes, bearing in mind the lesson they experienced.
School Based Support
After each tutorial, the TSA team goes to each school to help the teachers who have attended the demonstrations plan two consecutive lessons for their own classes. We then observe the two lessons planned by each teacher and give them feedback on each lesson. In general, feedback on classroom sessions has been done on an individual basis. However, this year, in an attempt to help teachers sustain their own growth post-TSA, we have also tried to incorporate group feedback into the process. We see group feedback as a process, facilitated by a person from TTF, during which teachers reflect and discuss their classes as a group based on key questions provided by the facilitator.
Last, but certainly not least, we have conducted parent orientations at all five intervention schools. We decided to do so because we thought it important for the parents to know how the school environment and teaching practices have changed in the last three years and to be aware of how these changes are affecting their children. The parents seemed pleased by all the visible changes and some even volunteered to teach children basic sewing, craftwork etc.
Furthermore, parents had previously been invited to the school for Parent-Teacher meetings and collection of report cards. The parent orientation allowed parents and teachers to mingle and discuss ways to better serve their children without focusing on the report card. Thus, an additional benefit of the parent orientation is that it provided an opportunity to foster better parent-school relationships.
3 parent orientation
2 half-day workshops
44 co-planning sessions
Feedback for 44 teachers
Baseline tests (prepared by Educational Initiatives) administered to 1600 children
We continue to think of ways to improve our existing ideas and strategies to make a difference in this, the final phase of the project.
Posted by Amrita Randhawa, Coordinator - Training and Teacher Support, TTF Bangalore