My recent visit to TFI’s City conference at Delhi reminded me of a famous quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. – “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education”.
Quality education is essential for adapting to today’s competitive environment. A number of educational organizations are coming forward with innovation to transform the education system of the country, prioritizing it above everything and trying to contribute to excellent education off late. And it made me believe we have finally realized the value and need for quality education.
Here Million Sparks Foundation has come up with a game-changing mobile application, “ChalkLit” and introduced it to Teach for India fellows at the Delhi City Conference held at Navyug School, located at Sarojini Nagar in Delhi on 19th November 2017. ChalkLit is a mobile application offering relevant resources to teachers for making a greater impact in the classroom. The app, if used may help the fellows of Teach for India who teach in government and low-income private schools in different cities of our country.
Fellows strive to achieve educational excellence for the school students they engage with under the aegis of Teach for India. For them, investing two crucial years come with various challenges which sometimes appears daunting for them. Here is a list of common issues raised by fellows that came up after the brainstorming session in the conference.
- Lesson planning and execution
The major challenge they face is at lesson planning and executing of those plans in the classroom. The fellows require to perform and deliver in the classroom under the tight schedule. The TFI fellows also have school administration duties and at times they need to spend long hours in the community engagement efforts that hardly leave them with sufficient time to prepare for lesson planning and classroom activities.
- Time constraint for classroom activities
The fellows admitted in the session that they struggle to keep pace with the time allotted to them for the planning of the lesson and activities to be conducted inside the class. So, the time constraint is one of the major challenges for them.
Can ChalkLit solve the challenges that teachers and TFI fellows raised in the session?
The session organized by ChalkLit Team consisted of three activities intended to understand and analyze the common challenges faced by fellows or teachers before entering into their respective classrooms. The first activity aimed to find out what sort of issues that fellows commonly face in planning and execution of daily lessons. And fellows as per the instruction introduced themselves with their problems and challenges.
In the next activity conducted, the entire fellows present were asked to estimate their time that usually goes in planning the different aspects of a lesson such as comprehending the concept/text, distribution of periods, break of concepts, mapping with curriculum and skills, building real-life connect and integrating activities.
In the third act which followed, all the fellows were presented with a few real-life scenarios that they could relate to. The objective of this activity was to realize and identify the potential challenges that they have been facing while preparing for effective classroom delivery. They were introduced to “ChalkLit” as part of the activity, instructed to critically analyze its helpfulness for them and to come up with genuine feedback about the app for any further improvement.
As a feedback, maximum fellows felt the app could be helpful as it caters all their needs when it comes to strategizing and planning the lesson. However, they wished that the app to have consisted of strategies for differentiation in the class identifying the different levels of learning required by the students.
They also found ChalkLit to be more teacher-centric and one of the teachers suggested, saying, “This app seems quite relevant, helpful and time-saving for teacher and mainly teacher-centric but I personally would have loved more if it becomes students centric too.” The team felt it was one of the valuable takeaways for them.
Another teacher appreciated the effort saying, “ChalkLit, as a resourceful web-based platform, will surely impact the way classroom teaching is delivered because it has all the relevant resources and tools that a teacher needs for effective classroom delivery.”
“App can present effective form of teaching, training, and learning which will not only be confined to four walls of a classroom but every learner can engage with it and learn anywhere at anytime. The app seems relevant and can save precious time for us which we can invest effectively on other important tasks”, said another TFI fellow.
After the session, thirty fellows signed up to use Chalklit for their conceptual and pedagogical improvement to increase their students’ outcomes.
The conference was a sight worth remembering where school children presented exhibitions that showcased their creativity through beautiful stalls full of handmade crafts inside the school campus.
And it was more like a demonstration of collaboration where exchange and sharing of innovative ideas among the fellows, teachers, and mentors took place.
By Vivekananda Chakma