At Educate for Life, we continuously document our experiences and learning to create resources to be shared with other organisations and schools working in rural India, in order to achieve a wider impact. We recently published the first draft of our Teachers’ Handbook in English and Hindi, which will enable teachers with varying skill levels to achieve high learning outcomes for children in marginalised settings like that of Bakhel. Our Co-founder and CEO, Ed Forrest writes about how the Handbook works, the years of collective effort that went into developing it and what we plan to achieve through it…
In June, we published the first draft of our new Teachers’ Handbook. Our Teachers’ Handbook is designed to support teachers who are low-supported, regardless of their skill-levels, to create high learning outcomes and inclusive learning environments for children in marginalised communities. Combined with its tools – such as supportive observations formats and self-assessment stickers –it works in the following ways:
- It supports teachers. It is a clear written documentation of what is required of a teacher, and suggestions of how to approach their work, de-mystifying expectations and providing a clear mandate.
- It supports children. It uses language and narratives that elevate the importance of a values-based approach to create a safe and nurturing learning environment. It strongly stresses on protecting children from physical and emotional violence at school.
- It enhances the value of the curriculum. It is designed to work with the standard SIERT government textbooks. It enables teachers to teach from these textbooks but make learning experiences for the children contextual, plan- and experience- based. This is especially important for first generation learners from illiterate families.
- It enhances life skills. Still using the SIERT textbooks as the basis of learning, it shows how to integrate life skills learning with the standard demands of academic learning.
- It makes community learning the foundation of running a good school. It provides tools and guidance to enable schools to empower illiterate community members as supportive decision-takers in the schools their children attend.
The Handbook combines nearly a decade of our experience in running one of Rajasthan’s most successful rural schools – such as Child Learning Demonstration Days and Community Learning Mornings – with practices found in some of the best classrooms around the world – such as self-assessment and inclusive classroom practices.
The Handbook is the product of the work of the entire Hunar Ghar team in this period, and our learnings with our partners, such as Apni Shala. Our primary goal at Hunar Ghar is to implement it consistently and well, to learn to make it better, and periodically publish updated versions.
We will simplify the Handbook and use it to support schools local to Hunar Ghar, to help them transition from non-functional to achieving good learning outcomes.
The Handbook is a package of interventions. They can be used all at once or one by one. We encourage others to use the entire Handbook or sections of it, in their schools and to share their experiences to help us improve it. The Handbook is what works for us. We encourage others to do what works for them.
As a future goal, we hope to complement the Handbook with a mobile app that tracks and gives feedback on its implementation success and learning outcome success. Here’s the plan:
- Publish better versions of the Teachers’ Handbook that helps teachers achieve higher learning outcomes
- Create an app that enables these teachers to track their own progress in Handbook implementation, giving them immediate feedback of what to improve.
- Share it widely, and use the data to learn to make the Handbook and the app better.