The beginning: An Aha! moment
The Pehlay Akshar program had begun with us teaching our own curriculum, through our own unique methodology. We were then approached to teach the State Board curriculum. We included it in our program and taught it, again deploying the specialised Pehlay Akshar techniques.
When we measured the impact on the children, we realised that the results were very encouraging, as the children had shown a marked improvement in their performance. This was our Aha! moment, when we understood that our way of teaching made a remarkable difference to learning. To reach and help more children, we decided to make our teaching methods more widely available to teachers.
This was the beginning of Pehlay Akshar Training, a program to train teachers, to impart knowledge using the socio-emotional pillars of Appreciation, Motivation and Engagement.
We assess and evaluate ourselves regularly to improve on our performance. We also incorporate third-party evaluations – we had asked Sattva to do a Gap Analysis study.We have incorporated some of their findings into our program. You can download and view their report here.
The Pehlay Akshar Training Program Model
The Magic Classroom
This idea is the foundation of our teacher training as well as schooling program, as it creates a happy, safe and equitable environment for teacher and student.
At the start of our schooling program, we saw that many children did not meet the expected standards of their grade. However, we encouraged our teachers to focus only on what the children did well and appreciate them for their hard work. The motivated children began displaying a gradual and steady change in their performance.
Through experiences like these, the Pehlay Akshar team has learnt to make the learning process more participatory and experiential. When true learning happens, it is indeed magical, which is why we call our concept the Magic Classroom.
The Pehlay Akshar teacher training model consists of three one-day workshops in an academic year, followed by weekly interactive meetings called Saathi Sessions, with the teachers. The workshops train the teachers to create a Magic Classroom and develop their teaching practice in a hands-on and engaging environment. The Saathi sessions, on the other hand, provide the teachers with a sharing platform, to build and find solutions to varied classroom challenges.
After the annual plan is completed, the training model is continued through the follow-up sessions. These are conducted by a rotational thought leader, chosen from the teachers’ cohort. A monthly follow-up is also conducted by the training coach.
The first step: Create a Magic Classroom
We begin our training by helping teachers realize their power to be change-makers and show them the “Possibility of Change” on a large scale. We conduct an activity that creates a Magic Classroom, using the teachers’ own experiential learning to impart the concept. Through interactive methodologies which draw the relevant answers from the teachers themselves, we instill the three pillars of the Magic Classroom: Appreciation, Motivation and Engagement, which are crucial to the training.
The second step: Newer Ways of Creating Magic
In this phase we strengthen the 3 pillars, help teachers understand them better and devise newer techniques and methodologies to use in the Magic Classroom. The workshop includes the important component of communication skills. The sessions focus on removing mental blocks, understanding how the mind works and nurturing creativity. By this phase teachers understand how to apply the training in the classroom.
The third step: Making Change Happen
The session acts as a bridge between training and reality, as teachers are taught how to translate ideas into real change, new creativity tools to impart learning are practised and the teacher is prepared to take on the role of change-maker. The session empowers every teacher, celebrating him/her as the magician who will transform the future of the children.
Each training is followed by weekly coaching sessions, called Saathi Sessions, to ensure that the training is deeply internalized. These weekly sessions, moderated by coaches, provide the teachers with a sharing platform, encouraging them to build on their learnings and find solutions to classroom challenges. Pursuing the Pehlay Akshar ideology, the coaches encourage the uniqueness of each teacher and celebrate their efforts and contribution.
We believe that these weekly Saathi sessions are our USP, ensuring that there is a strong and consistent follow-up to our training, that learnings are internalized and effectively implemented to create a Magic Classroom.
Self-help group model
A self-help group of 6-10 teachers meet every week. Every teacher gets an opportunity to conduct the Saathi session. The sessions foster the growth of strong support systems between teachers and a relationship of trust with the Pehlay Akshar team.
Safe space for teachers
The Saathi Sessions provide a safe space for the teachers to share their opinions, learn, find solutions to challenges and grow. They create a progressive, positive culture among the teachers, which in turn translates into a safe and inspiring environment for the children.
Resolve real-time classroom issues
As the Saathi Sessions are conducted every week, they serve as a source of valuable feedback on the real challenges faced by our teachers. Besides, discussing the challenges among themselves inspires the teachers to innovate and learn how to customize learning techniques to suit varied requirements.
The Pehlay Akshar App For Teachers
As our unique self-help group model builds capacity in Government schools, we also intend to create a Pehlay Akshar App that allows us to support our teachers digitally. Through chat groups, the conversations that we encourage in Saathi Sessions can continue outside too. The app will also deliver relevant content, provide teaching aids and an activity idea bank.
The most rewarding aspect of the Pehlay Akshar Training program is its multiplier effect. For every teacher that we train, there are many more students whom we impact. We measure our direct impact through the number of teachers trained and number of students impacted.
*Impact till 09.09.2019
In the words of our teachers
My name is Vaishali Kasare. I teach science to Grade 9 and 10 students in the secondary section of Worli Seaface Municipal School. Last year, we were trained in the Teacher Training program of Pehlay Akshar. The Magic Classroom idea of Pehlay Akshar is built on 3 pillars: Appreciation, Engagement and Motivation. We were taught to instil these three important aspects in our students through activities, in which we were all involved. This taught us how to execute these concepts in real life. I would like to thank Pehlay Akshar for conducting the program with us.
My name is Deepa Yashwant Surve. I teach at Worli Seaface Secondary English School. I used to find it difficult to teach many students together – as they are teenagers and their level of understanding varies from each other at this stage. Last year, I enrolled in RPG’s training program for teachers. We were taught that teachers need to change their teaching method; we learnt how to appreciate children and motivate them. Now there’s uniformity among the kids in class. Now, it is fun teaching and even the kids like to learn. Those who were not interested in studies, now enjoy studying every subject. All this has happened because of RPG’s Pehlay Akshar Teacher Training program.