Author: Abhinaya Sridharan, Bhumi Fellow

Synopsis: Within the classroom, a child may shine. But, behind the scenes, there are key players helping the child achieve that. What can we do to ensure innovation thrives not just inside, but outside the classroom as well?

First steps are usually the hardest to take. This rang true for me as I started on the journey to transform my school, Sri Arangiah Naidu Middle School. When I walked into the Bhumi Fellowship the very first day, I did not know what to expect. I thought about making English and Mathematics fun, and planning other activities. With time, I realized my children are influenced by what goes on around them. It does depend on what their parents tell them, or how their teachers treat them.

This is where I understood the motivation behind Whole School Transformation. Innovation within the classroom doesn’t mean much unless it thrives outside the classroom as well. In my first year of teaching, I got to know my class better, but I was also exposed to the challenges that lay in the way.

Child at the Centre

Right from Day 1, we knew we had to put the child at the centre. No matter what I had planned, I revisited this question – how does it impact the child? This question came in handy when we planned for Year 2. This time, we had to go beyond the classroom in a structured manner. Who are the other key players involved in a child’s learning process? What are their roles? How are they faring after transitioning to online learning? As I attempted to answer these questions for my school, I could see fresh perspectives. Parents, teachers, and the Headmistress – each person came with their own strengths and areas of development. Yet, one common thread bound them all – they wanted the best for their child. Whether it was Jenny* who wanted to paint, or Rakesh* who wanted to continue his football, we wanted the best for them. The difference came in how they worked together as a team.

As I spoke more to those involved, I was able to understand what their vision was for the children. I saw the power of collaboration coming alive there. I was able to share my ideas with them, and understand what the need was and they added newer perspectives. My team also supported me in visualizing change in a structured fashion. I put down my Theory of Change for Sri Arangiah Naidu Middle School. I introduced new structures in order to foster collaborative growth. For example, “Connections” is one such space where the teachers and the HM would get together to have a two-way dialogue regarding their own vision and the next steps. This was conceptualized with the vision of uninhibited sharing and learning from each other. In this process, I have also received newer ideas coming from these key players themselves, which has only helped me strengthen my plan. First steps may be the hardest to take, but with the right support – I can go further.

Education can transform lives. It can create a future where every child gets a fair chance at achieving their fullest potential. “We reap just what we sow.” That is why, a brighter and better tomorrow, starts today.

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