Monday, 10 February 2014

Towards Capacity Development

Kumod is one of our Management Fellows and works as the Regional Programme Manager for Bihar.

The word ‘Capacity Development’ has gradually occupied a central place in the activities within State - apart from the regular operations of state project. As the launch phase has almost come to an end, we have entered into a more productive phase to support teachers exhaustively within their kingdoms – i.e. the classroom. 2013 ended with a thought provocative needs analysis sessions to build a ‘Capacity Development Roadmap’ to develop our State team for the larger benefit of programme and also for the team itself.

Building a Roadmap
In a day long meet we already identified various potential areas or needs to be included in the roadmap for further development. The meet was highly influential in terms of measuring the areas for improvement amongst team members. It was concluded through deliberation that these areas for improvement would be addressed through customised treatment, to realise a universal and standardised capacity in each of the team member to support the teachers with equal potential.    

The need analysis exercise identified these areas for improvement, such as: developing soft skills, including communication skills; interaction with different stakeholders; gaining expertise in ‘DO’ activities; Lesson planning; classroom observations; classroom support, especially in technical troubleshooting; exploring contents and utilising web-boxes in many different ways. Apart from these core areas, there was a need to improve skills in working with utility software such as - preparing and formatting a document, working with Excel-sheets, and designing a PowerPoint presentation as well. These skills are heavily desired for monitoring, evaluation and reporting of our project activities from the field. In this context, we designed a capacity development roadmap for our State team for a substantially forward looking time frame. Initially it we thought about organising a compact, week long, session to include everything. However, it was quite tough to achieve such a long task for a team in a one go. Therefore we decided to organise two workshops for three days each, and provide a reasonable time to implement it. Along with workshops, continuous need based support and one to one discussion sessions in a long run was included as main component of the roadmap.   

The First Capacity Development Workshop
According to the road map our first ‘Capacity Development Workshop’ has been completed successfully in the second week on January, with a lot of learning and with fun activities. The three-day gathering concluded with tremendous insights, thought provoking sessions, various skill development actions and highly competitive performances on the given tasks through games, energisers, activities and presentations.

It was a dusky morning on the day one of workshop, when we started our first session – a ‘Team Building Activity’. Participants were divided into groups of two and directed to create a ‘stable and tall tower’ made of limited resources. The three tallest towers were 11, 10 and 8 feet in height respectively. They were the tallest ones ever seen in this activity.   
Following the team building activity participants had in-depth discussions on their field visits. Discussion included classroom observations, teacher support, school visits and interaction with different stakeholders in the field. The open discussion provided on the spot solutions to many constraints and limitations they were actually facing while visiting schools.  

The RPAs were advised, and agreed, to develop their own team that includes teachers from the schools they work with. The session on developing their own team was helpful to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each of their team members and the kind of support they need inside the classroom. Each RPA designed a chart-paper, analysing the existing and potential support needed by each of their team members (teachers). The review of each of the team members, on the basis of support they needed, provided a bird’s eye view to all RPAs in one go. The activity was focused on how they can achieve the best outcome for each of the team members through targeted customised support over the next three months. The participants gained a lot of insight into achieving a common capacity for their team members to deliver improved classroom activity.

The post-lunch session started with most important thought of the day – “How to implement ‘TLM BOX’ initiative in the classroom”. The detailed discussion was concluded with a sustainable design of a TLM BOX, containing ‘Do’ activity tools as suggested in the ‘Do’ section of each chapter. This would be developed by each RPA in the schools they work with, with the help of students. We discussed every aspect of the initiative to make it possible to promote a ‘learning by doing’ methodology and promote the ‘DO’ activities.

Each of the participants also demonstrated various classroom activities from different sections of our Science and Math content in the first session of the second day.   As the day of the workshop was concentrated on various skill development activities, the team were engaged with learning software skills.
The second half of day 2 was dedicated to learn the keys to lesson planning and classroom observations. Participants presented and discussed their lesson planning and classroom observation sheets with the team. Although all RPAs came prepared with a number of lesson plans and classroom observations they were assigned earlier, we learned that addressing all the queries raised by the teammates on lesson planning and classroom observation needs extra effort and time in the next workshop session. The discussion over each point of the lesson planning and classroom observation sheets was quite comprehensive; however it delayed the conclusion of sessions on day two by two hours.                       

As Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) is the prime method for RPAs to report their field activities; the workshop had one dedicated day to cover the effective delivery of desired deliverables in the MER documents. The last day of the workshop was heavy with MER practice. This exercise was purposeful to brush up on the previous learning and practices for a fresh start of MER.  Subsequent sessions provided participant with detailed information on the  ‘My School’ and ‘My Teacher’ projects as well as the plan for Teacher certification.  The participants were also learned to document field reflections and collection of data from the field on the last day of the event.

Reflection on the three day event provided insight for further capacity development of the State team. The reflection on the overall workshop also developed strong commitment from State team towards creating impact through ‘Learn-out of the box’ initiative in their areas.