The Teacher Foundation (TTF)
Site Visit: 03/05/2014
By: Anish Johnson
For: Asha Stanford
- Crescent School (Basavangudi, Bangalore)
The school has been running for about 40 years now, and currently has more than 1400 students (across KG- 10th grade).
KG-7th: 520 students
About 20 teachers in all, across all grades.
The school is government-aided; a certain number of the teachers are on government payrolls.
Asha Stanford has funded the first year of a 2 year intervention program run by TTF, called the Whole School Transformation (WST) program at Crescent School (in 2012). However, the program has not proceeded well at Crescent School, and the visit is aimed at understanding the problem and gauging interest in continuing
Asha: Anish Johnson
TTF: Maya Menon, Rashmi Prasad
General Secretary: Mr. Syed
Administrator: Ms. Meherunissa
Headmistress, Primary School: Ms. Zahira
Teaching Dept. Head, High School (Aided): Mr. Asif
Teaching Dept. Head, High School (Unaided): Ms. Asma
Asma: Most teachers are graduates with B.Ed. A lot of the activities focused on by TTF are familiar to them as part of their B.Ed. curriculum.
Syed: A lot of students are admitted every year in grades [8-10] from nearby slums. They come either from nearby government schools or are dropouts from other schools. This school board has a strong focus on uplifting the local Muslim community, and they want to maximize the number of 10th graduates.
Zahira: “Teachers don’t find anything useful in these classes.”
Issues as perceived by Crescent staff:
- Demo classes (done by TTF staff, like Rashmi) were not appreciated as effective. E.g. Math Demo class on decimals in 7th grade, at the end of which a child asked, “What is the difference between decimals and fractions?”
- Parent-teacher orientation session carried out by TTF was a “complete mess” (Syed)
- Discipline and lack of concentration of students should be focused on: Teachers think there is a “small number of misbehaving students” – “why can’t TTF focus on techniques to manage and improve them?” “If these students are targeted, definitely then the whole school would turnaround.”
- 10th grade pass percentages are currently 50-60%, this should be main criteria of success
Issues as perceived by TTF staff:
- Crescent staff focusing on irrelevant details: the demo class was one example. You can’t expect students whose basics aren’t there to completely understand decimals in one class. Even the parent teacher session that Mr. Syed felt bad about was nowhere as badly managed as that.
- Lack of collaboration: Examples:
- TTF staff gave feedback earlier about non-cooperation from staff; but this was not sent onwards to school management or acted upon.
- TTF also identified that there might be slow learners in the classrooms, who are potentially perceived as troublemakers. There should be focus on better teaching methods for improved learning amongst them (and not be singling out for discipline). Again, feedback not taken.
- Expectations not matched: you can’t expect results in 10th grade exams to change overnight; the work TTF does bears results over years, but the school and staff has to stay the course. TTF focuses on primary grades, it takes time for these students to inculcate lessons fully and reflect in 10th grade passing results.
Conclusion: I don’t think Asha Stanford should support the 2nd year of the WST program at TTF. The atmosphere is vitiated, and there is very little collaborative spirit. Some of the teachers expected a ‘magic wand’ and don’t think they are learning anything new (while TTF is insisting that they try and stick with these methods in the classrooms). Especially since such dismissal comes from the heads of the departments, teachers are not collaborating with TTF. Mr. Syed is well intentioned, but doesn’t understand that while he would really like to see improved 10th grade passing percentages, these cannot be achieved overnight. Also, from TTF’s side, Crescent staff liked working with Gazal, who later quit TTF – and TTF hasn’t managed to regain trust for their other staff
- TTF Offices:
TTF working on several initiatives, besides the ones that Asha knows of and has funded. Including:
- UKIERI [ trained heads (tutor facilitators) in Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu
- TeachNow [ Talking with founders on rolling out program in Indian context
- Cisco based telepresence platform: trained to used it, and then training teachers on how to use it
- CSR based collaboration with: IBM, Bosch, Cisco
- STEP (teacher assessment tool)
- Assessment of schools that have completed WST program
- Online collateral: pre-WST, and post-WST interviews with participants
- DIET, DSCRT: training programs at these still going on, though going down in number as private donor support (Ratan Tata Trust, Deshpande Foundation) drying up. Government support not forthcoming
- WST programs
- Schools like Vidyamandir, Deenya, and a Jamia school going on
- 1 funded by Fidelity, 1 by Cisco, 1 by Tech Mahindra
- 5 funded by Edelgive (3 Bangalore, 2 Haveri)
- Whatsapp based teacher communication platform: developed by TTF staffer Sojo
- Revenues split between for-profit organization (TTF Education Services) and non-profit organization (Shraddha Trust). Trying to increase income percentage coming from for-profit side.
- Shishumandir [
Was proposed to Asha Stanford as a potential school to include in a Prerana program.
Children’s home based in Ulsoor, started in 1983. Now includes a completely free English medium school (LKG to 10th) as well as vocational school – open to home residents as well as neighboring families (within a 2 kilometer radius) on a need basis admission criteria. Has been associated with TTF since 2000.
LKG, UKG: teaching standards strongly associated with German teaching methods (founder is German, and they get volunteers from Germany occasionally to help teach).
KG-4th grade: 2 sections of 10 children each
5-8th grade: Each grade merged into 1 section
9th-10th grade: State syllabus
22 teachers; 193 students
Girls:Boys ratio of 7:3
Now trying to get certificate, due to RTE requirements around English medium schools. They have some problems getting it: Certification requirement that 10th grade have at least 25 students; more students have to be admitted etc.
Of the 22 teachers, 7 are new (have joined in the last year or will start soon). 14 have a B.Ed. degree. All the 15 ‘old’ teachers had participated earlier in a TTF program called Touchstone, which was a 1 year program with content largely similar to WST and Prerana. They still remember all the concepts and use it in class (Rashmi, TTF trainer who accompanied Anish, quizzed them). Especially for the teachers with no B.Ed., it was like a mini B.Ed. program.
Also, some of their teachers will start on a couple different TTF programs in this year:
- 1 aimed at training ‘school coaches’, teachers who can train teachers – 2 of their teachers will participate
- Another a 3 day workshop (LiveWire) for all teachers: orientation right before the start of the school academic year
Since most of their current teachers have already participated in a TTF program with largely similar content, they shouldn’t need to participate in Prerana again. It might be useful to restrict participation to the 7 new teachers (plus any others who might join later). As such, since the ideal Prerana batch size is ~20, they propose identifying interested teachers at neighboring schools and asking them to join the batch.