A STEP reflection

The energetic vibe at one of our partner schools on Hosa Road wouldn’t fail to catch your attention. Stepping into this humble campus, one can expect to be in awe of the homely and enthusiastic environment. It’s a busy school – teachers are caught up in preparing their lesson plans, students are engaged either in classes or extra-curricular activities and the management spends every minute hoping that every student is receiving the quality education.

In October 2016, this school opened its doors for MANTRA, becoming a part of our School Transformation and Empowerment Project (STEP). As we near the end of our two-year commitment with the school, there is a sense of pride and hope that the stakeholders of the school have inched miles ahead towards their promise of quality education for every student – many of them being first generation learners in their families.

The school began in 1999 with just six classrooms. Each of its students is given the opportunity to grow holistically. Students aren’t just caught up in studies all day long, but, instead, have entered the sphere of participating in events outside the confines of their school as well.

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Mrs. Divya Lokesh, principal of the school believes that it was similar ideologies the school shared with MANTRA that resulted in this successful engagement to improve the quality of education for students.

“Our engagement with MANTRA doesn’t end with their exit from our school. There’s been an overall transformation among our teachers and students alike and we will continue to need MANTRA’s support to sustain this transformation. Our teachers have gained confidence in conducting workshops to improve teaching mechanisms and our students are beginning to gain exposure outside the school too. We have come a long way over the last two years.” – Mrs. Divya.  

Student exposure

Every day is packed with action. Students aren’t just confined to their classrooms completing their class works but are also busy participating in a host of extra-curricular activities.  

Last year, as the school leadership team engaged in the idea of effective utilization of available resources, they converted a dusty storage room on the terrace into a spacious library. And the responsibility of running this library was handed over to the student-led library committee which comprises of seven students of classes 8 and 9.

Library set up

Stepping outside their school, these students have already put themselves on the map at various student-related events like the International Geography Youth Summit (IGYS) and Knowledge@Wharton High School (KWHS) Investment Competition among others.

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Sparing the rod

Teachers at the school do not use corporal punishment today. They have been adeptly practicing the behaviour management trackers and other classroom management strategies.

The reward chart tracks the behaviour of students every day, classroom rules on the other hand created by students remind them of the importance of following the same rules too. In the event of indiscipline on part of students, a free period or a star badge is taken away.

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“The fear of losing a free period or a liked activity keeps students engaged in the classroom and away from misbehaviours. They know that if they misbehave, these rewards can be taken away. Using trackers has proven very effective.” –  Ms. Priyadarshini, teacher

Teachers lead the way

The eagerness to learn and be better at what they do defines every teacher at this school. With open arms, they embraced all of the training workshops we conducted for them and participate in the Learning Circle (where each teacher has to provide a demo of their class to fellow teachers) as well. Their zeal to make classes more interactive and engaging is inspirational and every hour is spent in making this a reality. This reflected in little practices that made huge differences to the learning process. (Read more)

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I had the pleasure of observing Mrs. Suma’s Social Science class for the 6th-grade students. The enthusiasm with which students answered Mrs. Suma’s questions about Karnataka was a treat to watch. But I also saw that the bond between each student and the teacher stretched beyond the textbook and class work.

“Teachers are increasingly active in enabling students to achieve overall improvement. This has helped us to strike chords with students on a daily basis and has, in turn, improved our communication with students as well as their parents.”- Mrs. Suma

After working with an IT firm for six years, Mrs. Reena joined the school to follow her passion for teaching. She was as new to the school as MANTRA was at the time.

“As a new teacher, I would often find the work overwhelming but MANTRA’s involvement was a helping hand. Over time, I have seen a lot of change in the academic performance of students. Being able to create an engaging classroom is the best reward a teacher can get.” – Mrs. Reena 

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Not the end of the road: MANTRA on the STEP experience

Change doesn’t happen easily. It takes a lot of will and persistence to create meaningful transformations that impact lives. Our STEP initiative at this school would have never taken flight if there wasn’t reciprocation from the other side too.

“My first impression of the school was that there was a lot of will to create change but they lacked direction. But with a dynamic Principal like Mrs. Divya who was ready to provide time and resources to our project, today we are able to say with certainty that the implementation of STEP here has been successful. She suggested that teachers undergo personal development first to improve their level of communication with parents. I am very proud of this particular journey.” – Vasundhara S, Operations Head, ShikshaKalp 

“The transition from when I took over this project as School Transformation Lead was difficult at first but the teachers accepted me in no time. Conducting the Learning Circle, co-planning lessons and activities for students was a lot of fun. For them, to reach a stage where they’re able to take charge of the activities we introduced speaks volumes for how much they have learned and transformed over time.” – Ankita Ghosh, School Transformation Lead

By Team MANTRA

 

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