Archive for the ‘Leader's in Classroom’ Category

October is the birth month of the father of our Nation and the man who has influenced TFI’s theory of change in no small way. “BE THE CHANGE” said Mahatma Gandhi and we devote this month to TFI staff, fellows and students and who are living those words and being the change. The very first post comes from Shashank bhaiya and Sandeep bhaiya and their students’ amazing and inspiring effort in Being the change.

The idea of “Every Child an Entrepreneur” came about when the kids desired changes in their school (Sunrise English School) in the form of computer education. Since the school did not have funds for a computer, the kids initially decided to raise fund by donation but coming from low income communities, they were able to raise only 3K which was not sufficient to buy a computer. Despite the set-back, the children turned it into an opportunity by coming up with a brilliant idea to organize themselves in interest groups and work over Saturdays to produce artefacts for a Fun fair using the initial 3K as seed money. The idea was that they wanted to create a market where they could sell their goods and hopefully raise enough funds for a computer.

On 2nd October 2010, the Sunrise Team organized SUNFESTA FUN FAIR!! The Fun Fair was Phase 2 of the “Every Child an Entrepreneur” program wherein the school children tried to raise funds for buying a school computer; from a fun filled event featuring games, prizes, music, delicious food and art+crafts made exclusively by the kids over the past few weeks. The event was a huge success with more than 20 stalls put up by the students attracting more than 1000 visitors. The event made a profit of 13K which was enough to buy a computer as was the original objective of the “Every Child an Entrepreneur”.

Watch the video for SUNFESTA FUN FAIR!!

The most heartening aspect though is the fact that it has given the kids the confidence of “I CAN” and they are already planning for a larger “Annual Event”  with the objective of raising funds for a water purification unit in school. As was apt on occasion of 2nd October, “The Children became the CHANGE they want to see in the world”

The school submitted this project to the Design for Change Contest. Here’s wishing the young entrepreneurs all the best!

Shashank Shukla and Sandeep Mallareddy are two Teach for India fellows from the 2010 cohort, committed to ending educational inequity in India. They work in a low-income community private school in Pune called Sunrise English School.


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[Sachin Jain is an engineer and a class teacher at grade 4, Supari Tank Municipal School, Mumbai. He is a Fellow of Teach for India: a private national initiative to attain educational equity, where outstanding young professionals commit to teaching full-time for two years in under-resourced local schools in India.]

“Aandhi ki tarah aao,

Toofan ki tarah jaao,

Chhaap chhod jaao!!”

(“Come like a storm, go like a tornado, leave your mark!”)

These words by superintendent Craig Johnson rung across the main hall of the American School of Bombay and electrified the 300 delegates as he opened the 1st day of the InspirEd conference on August 28, 2010. This conference brought together educators and those working closely with the cause of education, from various parts of India and abroad.

The two theme over two days – teaching as leadership and innovation in action were designed to equip the participants with inspiration and empowerment. The idea of the conference was to have a space where minds of Indian educators from disparate contexts, regions and cultures who each deal with a unique piece of the jigsaw puzzle of education in India could have a chance to see the whole picture. We can thus align ourselves with where we are, and where we are headed, and apply our minds in unison to getting there.

The opening night at St Xavier’s college on August 27 had a magical illuminated imagination tree, leading luminaries of Mumbai sitting in a classroom and being quizzed by students and some cute performances by students. The mascot of the conference is a pencil, this seemingly ubiquitous object that can magically transform into so much more with some imagination – just like the dreams of students.

I went into the conference as a participant the next morning excited to meet educators who were passionate and committed to being the chance in their classrooms, but who followed theories of change different from ours. I was not disappointed. Key trends in the Indian education landscape in recent times are focus on learning and outcomes, scaling up of efforts, ultra low-cost models, for-profit schools, new careers in education and public-private partnerships. In the area of primary education which is of crucial concern to me, we have fared relatively well in providing access to primary schools and achieving enrollment, but we have miles to go yet with respect to quality, retention (preventing drop-outs) and equity.

Craig Johson of American School on Bombay did a brilliant deconstruction of culture and myth in India, of how teachers can become creators of “Outliers” that achieve exceptional things. He borrowed from the work of eminent Indian mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik to establish how the pupil thinks of “My world”, how the rules and procedures of the school impose “The World”, and how problems arise for the student from the conflict.

Another inspiring session on the 1st day for me was by Dr. Mahmood and Shamsi Hasan of GSS, Bangladesh. It was inspiring to see how they were able to provide quality primary education to so many pupils at such a low cost. We could identify their struggles, in the context of the South Asian subcontinent, and we were really touched by their commitment to provide an excellent education to all children in their country.

Then was an informative panel discussion on Right To Education, providing teachers insights on how to bring it into practice. The day ended with a reflection session in different groups, one of which I facilitated. The teachers and principals at the session shared insights on  the importance of self-evaluation, understanding student feelings and not imposing a bias. They were able to establish a connection between teaching and leadership – have faith, inspiring, motivating, setting good examples, firing imagination and curiosity. They wanted to create a fun environment in class and integrate students who came from diverse backgrounds. Overall we were left with a feeling of self-confidence and positive thinking.

On the second day, the theme was innovation in action. The day began with a spotlight on innovative schools like Riverside, Akanksha, KIPP and Shishuvan. Then the workshops I attended included phonics by Mary Kayt Norris and information literacy with library specialist Heeru Bhojwani. Heeru showed us what amazing things could be done by students in projects using free softwares from the internet, and how as teachers we could encourage higher-order skills of analysis, evaluation and synthesis among our pupils. Then Galli Galli Sim Sim did a presentation on using TV as a teaching tool. Finally, there was a panel discussion among youth who are at the forefront of pioneering movements in India in environment, youth ventures, government and education.The reflection session produced insights like storyboarding, teaching through art, fun way to impart character eduction, enacting a skit to dissuade the use of foul language, using rubrics for evaluation and giving students advance intimation of what they entailed.

The closing session featured a moving testimony by one Akanksha student about how her life had been transformed by the power of one great teacher. The conference ended on a high note, with all participants continuing to share their learnings over email groups and the organizers promising a bigger and better InspirEd conference in 2011!


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The Teach For India initiative is the catalyst for a new movement to bridge the education gap in India, with its volunteers serving as the spark to inspire children to become successful.

US Secretary of State,Hillary Clinton

Any program working towards improving performance levels of students, particularly from disadvantaged and challenging backgrounds, needs to be encouraged, especially in a country like India. Teach For India aims to do just this…the concept is exemplary.While I am sure the learning levels of students will improve, teaching students from underprivileged backgrounds can be a life altering experience.  What can be more motivating than knowing you are playing a key role in transforming their entire future.

– Anand Mahindra, MD, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited

Teach For India will be driven by young people who through their contribution to inclusive growth will also develop a sense of social responsibility and sensitivity when they become the leaders of tomorrow. Besides improving the quality of education it would most importantly also enhance their own leadership and communications skills.

– Dr Nachiket Mor, President, ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth

Teach For India has the potential to transform the process of K 12 learning in our country and create a whole generation of motivated youth.

– Ganesh Natarajan, Chairman Nasscom / Global CEO, Zensar

I strongly endorse the Teach For India campaign. I am confident that  the young people who participate in this program will themselves benefit immensely from this noble activity.

– Ajit Rangnekar, Dean Indian School of Business

Teachers are real heroes.

Amir Khan, Brand Ambassador Teach For India & Bollywood Superstar.

At Thermax, we want our Trainees to have sensitivity towards all stakeholders and concern for the society in which we live. I am confident Teach For India will develop all these qualities and I fully endorse it.

– Anu Aga, Former Executive Chairperson, Thermax Group

The bright young minds that join this movement are going to harness their learnings and experiences and combine to form a collective force of leaders who will make the difference.

– Rajat Gupta, Senior Partner Emeritus, Mckinsey and Company

The Indian adaptation of the proven TFA model of selecting the best graduates from leading Indian colleges, and training and mentoring them as they spend 2 years in government and poor private schools – where they impart fresh ideas within schools, help children measurably improve their learning levels and themselves become capable leaders – appeals to us.

– Barun Mohanty, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation

When an individual can look around and see a connection between a man that has too much bread and the man that has too little, then it becomes his/her obligation to take action. Teaching was my way of taking action.

– Mariyam Farooq, Teach For America Alumni

In the US, Teach For America alumni serve as school system superintendents, school principals, acclaimed teachers, policy advisers and social entrepreneurs. Teach For India has the potential to have a possibly greater impact in providing all of your country’s children with the opportunities they deserve.

– Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder, Teach For America

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I was thrilled by an energetic and simple-yet-inspiring visit to his classroom by Mr. Sandeep Singhal, CEO, Nexus Venture Partners.

We co-taught English grammar – Past Tense. He was a natural from the word go, and expertly got the children to make a story (turned out to be about a fox who ate a samosa) using action words… in the past tense. Later the children asked him a gazillion questions about his life, and he answered them with a charming nonchalance. Do come back to our classroom Sandeep Bhaiyya!

Sandeep Singhal is co-founder of Nexus Venture Partners.

Sandeep Singhal has been an entrepreneur and a pioneer of Venture Capital in India. He was co-founder & CEO of Medusind Solutions, one of the leading healthcare outsourcing companies in India. He also was the co-founder of eVentures India, a leading venture firm focused on early stage ventures in India. Several of his earlier investments have had successful exits, including CustomerAsset (acquired by Firstsource), Mentorix Solutions (acquired by Lionbridge), Intigma (acquired by Emptoris), and MakeMyTrip (sale to SAIF Partners). Sandeep has also held senior roles at McKinsey & Company, Digital Equipment and EDA Systems.

Sandeep has an MBA (with Distinction) from The Wharton School with a dual Major in Finance and Marketing, and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. He is on the Board of TiE Mumbai, and is actively involved with the Entrepreneurs Organization and the Wharton and Stanford India Alumni Associations.

Sachin Jain
Class Teacher, 3rd Standard
Supari Tank Municipal School,
Bandra (West), Bombay, India 400050

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