The Delhi government has introduced a differentiated teaching method two years ago - something we at Teach For India have already been trying since forever.
Differentiated teaching means that you try to cater to each individual student based on her learning needs. That essentially means that if you have about 50-60 students in a classroom, you cater to each one of them individually by creating 60 different assignments (if needed!), lesson plans, or everything else that matters.
In reality, the most that a teacher does is she creates a two or three bucketed teaching plans, and tries to fit all the students into one of these buckets.
Efforts deeply appreciated!
So on the same lines, the government has created a basic test that helps categorize students in one of these categories - Non - Readers, Readers, and Writers.
1. Non-Readers - The students who can neither read or write their grade level text
2. Readers - The students who cannot write but read their grade level text
3. Writers - The students who can both read and write their grade level text
Based on the classroom strength, the students from same grade across different sections have been reshuffled to these categorical classrooms. Differentiated books, lesson plans, classroom spaces, and a lot more have been created to support this method. Lots of money seem to have gone into this business.
Efforts deeply appreciated!
I started my Teach For India fellowship in a classroom of 98 students (all girls). Two girls dropped out of the class in first one year due to their own reasons. After the end of one year, the Delhi government's plan led me to shift about 20 girls from my classroom to a different classroom that was meant for lower order students (academically not that great). That activity helped me in three major aspects:
Our classroom's Average Reading Comprehension level went up. The students behaviour management was more under control, and blah-blah. I had such a sigh of relief. Throughout the year, I have been threatening my girls to change their section to lower bucket section if they did not do this or that. Now I finally got the lifetime opportunity to put my warning into reality!
At the start of this session, again the basic tests have been conducted. This gave us another opportunity to clean our classroom. I have about 14 girls to be put to a lower order students section. Again, it will have lots of great consequences as mentioned above. Wow...
It's just that today I am not feeling so happy about it. My fellowship is ending in less than a month. I don't really have to worry much. The students who were not doing so great academically in my classroom won't really create any chaos if put in a different section. Everything else is going great.
But I just wonder is that why I came to this education sector - making the classroom results data look good, filling the various sheets/ registers for record-keeping, making a student feel sorry about herself for the rest of her life, creating senseless competitiveness among young girls etc.
With all due respect to the policy makers who think deeply about the the students' education, donors of various non-for-profit organizations who demand the students performance go up, and principals/program managers who push teachers to work harder everyday - efforts like these may have provided theoretical advancements in state's education system, but let's for once try to dive deep in a student's emotions ocean that witness many tides in throughout their innocent childhood because of the pressure we create on them!
And believe me, you don't need to be any expert in child psychology to understand this, and you don't need to go to any low-income community to feel this, just pick any child in your proximity, better your own if you have one, and hear him talk his heart out with you when you get a moment!
Swati is the General Manager of Social Venture Partners (SVP) Hyderaad, where she builds powerful partnerships with non-profit organisations to tackle India's most pressing social challenges. SVP is the world's largest network of engaged philanthropists, with over 3,200+ investor-donors across more than 40 cities worldwide. Swati is a Teach For India Fellow - she has taught 100 girls for two years in a slum community in New Delhi. She has previously worked with Hedge Funds for four years as a consultant in New Delhi and New York. Swati holds a bachelor degree in Computer Science from the Institute of Engineering and Rural Technology.