I head Shanti Niketan English School, which is situated in Village Areri, in a small town called Mahemdavad in Gujarat. The mission of my school is to bridge the quality of education offered in bigcities in villages. It is a partner school of Leadership Boulevard Private Limited. My work as the School Leader is to coach teachers, students and parents towards a better life path and to look after the smooth functioning of the school in all other areas – operations and enrolments.
I got the golden opportunity to be a part of Transformative School Leaders Workshop along with two other TFI Alums who are School Leaders currently – Rahul Gupta and Jayeeta Saha. The workshop was held in London in the month of March. It was a fantastic week of learning, where I got a chance to even reflect on my own journey as a School Leader and also got to interact with School Leaders from across the Teach For All Network (there were 8 other School Leaders/Vice Principal from different countries). We spent the first day getting to know each others’ life stories, having a discussion about what makes a school transformative and what are the important characteristics for our contexts. The second and third day were spent in observing different schools, and getting to talk to the School Leaders of those schools. The last day comprised of several brainstorming and knowledge giving sessions where we decided the top 3 priorities for our schools and what qualities do we (as School Leaders) need to be having to be able to accomplish those priorities.
I saw three different schools – Reach Academy (http://www.reachacademyfeltham.com/), King Solomon (http://kingsolomonacademy.org/), and Oak Hill Academy (http://www.aatoakhill.org/). All the three schools were great examples of academic excellence and had clear core values to make sure that students get there. Each person I saw and interacted with in each of these schools seemed really passionate about what they were doing and every person knew the end goal – providing an excellent education to all the children in their schools.
However, one thing that I missed out in this trip was asking one question – “How has been the journey of the teachers there and whether the work that they are doing in those schools havechanged their way of thinking (towards children’s education) in anyway? What are the things that they believed will never happen, but have happened with the children? And what has caused that shift in the mindset?” I shall surely keep this question in mind for future trainings!
Overall, the trip helped me in a lot of ways. Soon after I got back, I introduced the system of“Coaching Hours” for the students in my school (I saw remedial classes happening there for students every day, so I thought of doing something similar in my school) where all teachers spend time on remediating specific subjects every 1st and 3rd Saturdays to all students in school. I created a Teacher Development Plan wherein I specified vision for all my teachers in general and I am working on it currently. The trip gave me the time out to reflect on what my strengths and weaknesses are, and ofcourse the motivation to do more each day. I have a 100 children in school now (I started with 50 when I started), and I look forward to reaching out to more in the near future!
Raman Bahl was a 2012 Teach For India Fellow