Vishal Talreja, Co-Founder, Dream a Dream
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Teacher Development Programme (TDP)
Developing Life Skills in Teachers to deepen impact on students from Adversity
Severe, widespread childhood adversity (i.e. suffering from poverty, malnutrition and abuse) along with an education system ill-equipped to respond to a constantly changing environment impedes over 100 million Indian youth from thriving in school, at work and beyond.
Children who have experienced adversity are more likely to exhibit disciplinary problems, be more absent from school, display deficits in cognitive function, have lower self-esteem and develop poorer relationships. They do not develop age-appropriate behaviours to solve problems critically, handle relationships sensitively or manage conflict tactfully. This not only critically impairs their mental health, but also significantly impacts their future prospects and has second order economic impacts like increased unemployment and reduced productivity.
Teachers in the current system are not prepared to deliver the education necessary to respond to the impacts of adversity. Mainstream education is focused on numeracy and literacy outcomes and expects teachers to ensure high test scores, however they often have “hierarchical and authoritarian mind-set(s) antithetical to 21st century learning”. Children displaying cognitive or behavioural challenges are quickly labelled as ‘non-cooperative’ and ‘slow learners’ by the education system, resulting in young people who aren’t equipped to thrive.
Dream a Dream’s empathy-based pedagogy, experiential learning, and mentoring ameliorates the effects of adversity by providing life skills, defined as positive and adaptive behaviours to deal with the challenges of daily life. These skills, which include problem solving, taking initiative, managing conflict, and interacting well with others, facilitate deeper learning, health and economic development.
In order to systemically introduce life skills into the education system, Dream a Dream developed the Teacher Development Programme (TDP), which uses our ‘arc of transformation’ methodology to unlock empathy and creativity, allowing teachers to understand adversity and its effects, and recognize their own biases and nurture life skills amongst their students. Teachers are the most influential players after parents and can impact many children at once, making them powerful levers affecting systemic change.
Our TDP approach is robust because it has evolved from direct implementation to systemic change. We run direct programs for children and teachers in Bangalore, which act as innovation labs for our teacher training modules. This helps us incorporate feedback in our large-scale programs delivered via governments and partners. One key insight from our programs, which led to the TDP, is that an empathetic adult actively engages students in learning, improving cognitive, social, and emotional development. Our program is unique as it develops educators’ own life skills; which is more indicative of students’ long-term success than educators’ impact on test scores.”
The TDP develops teachers’ social-emotional learning and life skills and helps them build attitudes and tools to facilitate a classroom environment where students from adversity can thrive. The TDP is delivered through a series of 4 Life Skills Facilitation workshops spread over 6-8 months, with a focus on transformative experiences and experiential learning.
In each module the participant progresses through stages of:
• Exploring and expressing your own creative potential
• Understanding adversity and engaging young people with empathy
• Understanding of how young people learn and developing facilitation skills
• Celebrating your role in a young person’s life
• To date, our TDP has trained 9,442 teachers impacting 2,36,050 students
• 90% of teachers said the TDP helped them gain a greater understanding of their role as a teacher.
• We have a retention rate of 78.7% across the workshops.
• TDP received a Net Promoter Score of 65 (60 Decibels, 2019), which is well above both the Lean Data Global (42) and India (34) averages for all companies, as well as specifically in the global education sector (42).
• 94% of participants post-completion of the TDP experienced a quality of life improvement (60 Decibels, 2019)
• The Life Skills Assessment Scale study on the TDP’s impact on students found that 66% showed a significant improvement in life skills score after their teacher participated in our programme.
The program was one of seven global innovations profiled as a case study in a book titled, ‘Preparing Teachers to Educate Whole Students: An International Comparative Study’ published by Harvard in 2018.
• The TDP approach has been and is being used to create context specific training for our 6 state government partners in India to equip educators to facilitate the well-being of the child, with a potential to train 200,000 teachers and impact 4 million children
• Our model has been replicated in Kenyan public schools by Aga Khan Foundation to integrate concepts of ‘respect of diversity’ and ‘pluralism’ in teachers. We have worked with 217 educators as part of the initial pilot