Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The Change Catalyst

Someone once told me that magic is what you make out of your potential and it shines through your hard work. Today I saw a real life example of that. I was lucky to accompany one of my colleagues to her school today, where she was gearing up for her quarterly update on STEP* to the school leadership team. School leaders are instrumental to the success of any intervention in schools and hence, engaging them in the process helps build sustainability of change efforts. The update presentation is a way to formally apprise the leadership team about our work, successes and challenges in school and to brainstorm with them on further possibilities.

To set the context, my colleague is a School Transformation Lead for a low-fee, private school located in the (semi-urban) Hebbagodi area in Bangalore. As her profile says, she drives efforts towards the transformation of her school by influencing a change among all the stakeholders responsible for a child’s education. This includes school teachers, principal, parents and of course, the children themselves.
So today was the day of the quarterly update presentation. I, as a new joinee, had accompanied her to just see her school and to understand the dynamics of the school. Little did I know, what I was about to witness was indeed magic..!

It was a tiny room where the Head master and few senior teachers were present. She started off her presentation by thanking them for the support and then headed onto describing the areas of her work. Next came the videos of teachers using child-centric teaching methods in the class and interesting Behaviour management techniques (which replaces corporal punishments and develops ownership among children), innovative teaching methods and use of trackers in a class room. Normally, these aspects are rarely seen in under-resourced schools. All these videos exhibited the confidence with which the teachers were applying all these techniques. It was an eye opener for me because I could imagine the extent of efforts that would have been put in. Change is a slow process and not everybody is receptive of new ideas. If she was able to convince them to do so, that means many barriers and battles against fixed mind set were won. She talked about how teachers are taking responsibility of helping their fellow teachers and how they asked her to organize more training sessions that’d equip them with more techniques and ideas. Guess what, all this was achieved in a short span of six months.

What followed was even better, the school head master and the senior teachers asked her to present this video in the staff meeting, where they could inspire other teachers as well and could acknowledge the teachers’ hard work on a public platform. This is where my colleague picked up a discussion about the structures for appreciating their staff. It was interesting to see how opportunities for setting up better structures & processes can be created during such one-on-one conversations. It was a brilliant opportunity to point out to the school leadership that their appreciation and feedback matter a lot to teachers; and hence, they can inspire the teachers to bring innovation to classrooms on a regular basis.
At the end of the meeting, the HM and the teacher walked out with an extremely positive frame of mind and feeling great about themselves; and I went out with a learning that inspiration lies all around us. All we need to do is be open to it.

*STEP: School Transformation and Empowerment Project is a key initiative by MANTRA4Change.

The blog piece has been written by Ms. Poonam Shukla, who works as the School Transformation lead at Mantra4Change. 


  1. Poonam, you are right. I believe that teachers should get appreciation and feedback. In good ICSE schools in Bangalore like Greenwood High, the school management people are concerned about teachers' appraisal.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Prabhakar. Like you pointed out, these practices of appreciation form a strong cultural element and have great impact on teachers' motivation. We are glad that you are doing that in your school.