‘The role of any leader is to support people around them’

How Hunar Ghar benefitted from sending its teachers on external reviews with Adhyayan

Leading the learning: Ed Forrest, Co-Founder of Hunar Ghar
Hunar Ghar is a community school in Bakhel, Rajasthan. Ed Forrest, along with his school team members, engaged with the Adhyayan Quality Standard (AQS) programme to align all stakeholders to a common vision and understanding of What A Good School Looks Like. Investing time in professional development, Hunar Ghar demonstrates the role of review in achieving quality at relatively low cost.


Why should school leaders send their school team members for review?
The role of any leader is to support people around them, to increase their personal and professional capacity, to feel more inspired and to be able to achieve more and feel very proud of that. I have a vision for what a school can be like and how we may get there but never can a leader know better than the people who are running the school on a daily basis. So my job is to keep their minds open because they can get bogged down by day-to-day life. I need to let them know that there are learning opportunities for them to be able to feel really proud of themselves, do some great things for the kids and take us in that direction. So I think any school leadership should be just a connector and should get out of people’s way and not hold them back.

How does reviewing other schools help your own school?
When you learn a second language, you are able to reflect upon your first language and understand how it’s constructed differently and its nuances and that they don’t translate directly but they are still trying to do the same thing which is to communicate.
Similarly every school and every community have their own cultural language but they are still trying to do the same thing, which is to nurture children. That usually informs one’s own skills and strengths and weaknesses in one’s own context and because that is done in a structured way, it is not only a lovely experience, but one starts focusing on what is good leadership and management, the child, the curriculum and the structure which is complex enough to be meaningful and simple enough to be manageable. That’s what really brings the value.
If you can see it then you can do it, or if you can experience it then you can do it, so the team starts implementing what they see with a kind of gusto in our own school.

Learning to Lead: Imrana and Ajeet, Hunar Ghar school assessors

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Imrana Khanam and Ajeet Sangia have been a part of Hunar Ghar for more than a year now. In November 2016, they started their review journey with Adhyayan and within a period of three months they had collectively been part of 10 schools’ external reviews. Having overcome all challenges with a passion and eagerness to learn and grow, theirs was a sharp growth curve and a profound learning experience, which they are happy to share with us. Here are the skills they learnt and found to be extremely important to become an Assessor:

Observation: It is important to be very attentive and alert to the details in the school environment as that gives a complete picture of how the school is. This helps collect strong evidence which leads to secure judgements.

Supporting your assumption with evidence: To avoid any kind of personal bias in the process, it is important that you ensure that your assumptions are backed by evidence. The evidence further helps communicate your observation to others in the team.

Communication: Interacting with students, parents and stakeholders is important part of the review process. Even students are shy at times, sometimes anxious and hence may hesitate to share. Without this skill an assessor may not always get the information they may be looking for.

Team management: An entire school has to be reviewed in a day or two. Every member plays a key role in contributing to the evidence collection. It is important to understand your role in the team, how you are bringing balance and the value of each member’s contribution as every set of data becomes extremely important during the dialogue.

Time management: The external review days have to be very well planned. Unutilised time is equal to evidence missed. A good assessor plans and manages his time efficiently ensuring all methods of evidence collection are conducted smoothly.

Openness: If you want to grow it is important that you share with senior assessors about what methods you would like to learn and practice in the upcoming reviews. This will help the new assessors become much more independent in the long run.

Ability to comfort and create friendly environment: One more thing we learnt from senior Adhyayan Assessors was that they did not subjugate new assessors but in fact oriented with clarity and offered support. They involved us during planning and provided opportunities to contribute. The comfort and friendliness helped us share ourselves uninhibited.