Transforming Learning, Transforming Schools
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Read Part-2 of this mini-series by our Co-founder and COO, Smita Deorah : Curriculum and Technology Innovations at LEAD.
How does signing up to become a LEAD partner school transform the day to day experience of everybody involved?
In a school ecosystem, there are 5 key stakeholders:
- Students, who’s learning the other stakeholders are there to enable:
- The Principal
- The School Owner
Because of our years as school owners and principals, and because of our work with teachers directly, we understand them very well. Both Sumeet and I, and our team, spend a lot of time with not only students but also their parents – how they live, what their concerns are, what their aspirations for their children are. And so, the LEAD integrated system, while delivering a transformational learning experience for kids, ensures that the life of every stakeholder is simplified and their needs addressed.
Let me start with students because their learning lies at the core of everything we do at LEAD.
Making learning fun
Before LEAD, the life of a student was boring. The classes had a blackboard, at best a whiteboard, with a teacher standing in front of the class, teaching from a textbook. Most of the session had a teacher talking, and the students just sitting and listening, without understanding. They would be doing questions at the back of the textbook and then taking back homework.
With LEAD, now, the classroom is fun. The class not only has a blackboard; it has a TV too. The teacher is talking less, doing more. The students have group assignments and activities with their classmates. In every class and subject, they watch a video or consume some audio-visual content. The students now have a variety of books and tactile learning materials such as place value kit, fraction kit, mineral kit, etc., which they can engage with. The books are colourful, full of images and fun stories, as opposed to the boring textbooks they had earlier.
While previously, a class was a place where performers were rewarded and poorly performing kids branded as inadequate, it is now a place of equals where everybody participates and learns.
Finally, while previously a class lacked discipline and teachers struggled to manage students, a classroom is now a place with routines, where the students have cues to follow. For instance, if a teacher is doing a countdown, the students know they have to wrap up whatever they are doing and return to their seats. When a teacher says ‘One two three, eyes on me’, the students know they have to pay attention. And of course, a big shift for kids is that they belong to two classes – an ELGA class and a grade-level class. For instance, a child may belong to ELGA 4 and be in Grade 5. She will first go to her ELGA class in the morning and then to her Grade 5 classroom.
In pre-primary, everything from the physical classroom experience changes. All the desks and benches go away and kids now walk into their classroom and choose a corner to play in. This is followed by them moving to the centre and starting to work with their teacher on some music, dance or other activity. Eventually, they get to a desk which they share with a classmate and do some individual work.
Children adapt very fast to the LEAD system, as not only are they more malleable, they are also having much more fun.
Making teaching simple, making teachers excellent
For a teacher, life changes in a different way. Earlier, she would go into her classroom with a textbook. She would teach in a manner she knew best – which is to read the book line by line. She would use chalk and a blackboard to explain something.
Now, she has a tab, with the lessons planned for her. She prepares by reading/ listening upfront about what she is supposed to do the next day or for the next few days. She sees demo class videos and training material to deepen her own understanding of a topic. If she has any physical material she needs to carry into her classroom for an activity, she uses the LEAD School Excellence Kit before entering her class.
In a classroom, she just connects her tab to a Smart TV and executes her learning plan. And in doing so, she learns to execute pedagogies that the best teachers in the world do. She does not need to do roll call; she can capture attendance on the tab itself. She administers assessments and captures the results via voice, available on the tab. She does not have to report performance to a coordinator or anybody else. When her tab syncs, the data gets automatically transferred, and the principal and other administrators can access all the data on their dashboards. She can take pictures of the classroom and that gets automatically sent to parents, also with the homework. So, a lot of peripheral activities that used to take her time, are now simplified.
While we don’t change the teachers when we enter a school, a teacher herself undergoes a drastic transformation, as she keeps executing lesson plans. She is given initial training on how to use the tab, how to execute the lesson plans, but for the most part, the instructions are simplified enough to execute them. Additionally, she gets support from LEAD where Excellence personnel observes her classroom and suggests how she can improve.
Making sure every stakeholder benefits
The principals’ lives change in that, instead of telling teachers how to teach, how to manage students, they have to monitor if things are happening as they are supposed to, as per the LEAD method. They have to get used to tech and data, for which there is training given by LEAD. In case, they face challenges, they can reach out to their LEAD Excellence Manager, who is available to solve their problems.
The school owner is making a big investment in this transition – so he is interested to know if he/ she will get more enrollments. He also needs to sell the concept to existing parents, so LEAD sets up an experience hub for each school. He can now show that all classrooms have smart TVs, all teachers have tabs.
His big issue is those good teachers are not available, and LEAD assures him that tech-experienced teachers are not necessary, all teachers are made excellent by LEAD. He is able to say that children will be fluent in English, which is a big draw for parents. We have introduced a coding and computational skills program (CCS) this year, so that is also attractive. He sees this as a proposition where because children are getting future-ready, and are receiving transformational learning, he is going to be able to grow his school.
Before LEAD, parents had very little idea about what is going on in school. They depended on what their children or other parents tell them. But with LEAD’s Parent App, which is multi-lingual to enable parents not fluent in English to use it – they are now constantly updated about what is happening in school and what their child’s performance is.
As of May 2021, over 2000 schools have signed on to the LEAD Integrated System enabling us to provide transformation learning to over 800,000 students across the country. Our mission is to ensure every child in India has access to an excellent education.
LEAD is transforming schools by making children future-ready. To make yours a LEAD powered school: Partner with us today