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  • Writer's pictureMantra4Change

“ Where there is a will, there's a way”

Updated: Jun 26

Manjula Ma'am's Journey in a School Improvement

In Government High School Yelheri in Kalaburagi, there's a dedicated school leader named Manjula Ma'am. She has worked in the school for 11 years, and her journey has been filled with challenges. Her dream is to make the school a fun and joyful learning place.

Managing a school with just two permanent teachers - one for Math and the other for Kannada- and a few guest teachers made it challenging for her to pursue her dream. Despite trying to collaborate with an external organisation to establish a lab, the plan did not materialise. Juggling the daily responsibilities of school management, her dream had to be put on hold.

Adding to her struggles, the 10th-grade students have been underperforming in their exams, highlighting an urgent need for improvement. The School Leadership Development Program (SLDP), which focuses on school improvements, was introduced to her to equip school leaders with the skills, mindset, and support communities needed to enhance their schools. This initiative stemmed from a request by Garima Panwar, the then ACPI of the Kalaburagi division, for collaborative efforts between Mantra and DIET to empower high school leaders (Grades 8-10) to address the low performance in the 10th board exams across the division. The goal of the program was to develop resource-rich learning environments in schools where children could benefit from engaging in teaching-learning materials (TLMs).

Manjula Ma'am, who already knew the school's challenges, got really motivated when she attended the SLDP workshop. She had a clear roadmap to follow this time, along with step-by-step guidance on how to make it happen through the SLDP program’s capacity-building sessions and peer learning circles. She was excited about creating a better learning environment and was supported by the program's training and discussions with other school leaders.

Manjula Ma'am was determined to make the school more lively, creative, and purposeful. She knew it wouldn't be easy, but she believed that the changes she planned would greatly impact the students and teachers.

The school decided to have a TLM Mela. They asked students to work in groups and make learning materials. At first, Manjula Ma'am wasn't sure if the students could do it, but she was happy to see them getting involved and helping each other.

Even though very few teachers supervised their work, Manjula Ma'am trusted the students and let them make the TLMs. They started with Math TLMs, but the students got so excited that they made TLMs for other subjects, too.

The students formed groups, and leaders in each class watched over the work. The students felt proud and happy about what they made. In the end, they made nearly 60 TLMs, the most in the district, and even invited parents and others to the TLM Mela.

It was a big event at the school, with presentations from students in grades 8, 9, and 10. Videos of the TLMs were shared online and with community groups, which made the students happy.

Manjula Ma'am noticed positive changes in her school culture as previously overlooked students began to shine through their contributions to teaching-learning materials (TLMs). Teachers reported increased student engagement and active participation in classroom activities. Heartwarming stories emerged, including a student gaining confidence and a child with special needs showing remarkable improvement and newfound confidence through TLM creation. As the school is going through renovations, the created materials might often get lost, and so does the effort of the children and students. Manjula Ma'am plans to create a dedicated space for storing TLMs to help ensure a continued enriching learning environment. Her motivation stems from her belief in the value of continuous learning.

As the saying goes, "Where there's a will, there's a way," Manjula Ma'am's journey proves that with determination and vision, anything is possible. Her story shows the incredible impact of school leadership programs and the potential of every student. Through her determination and vision, she has not only transformed the school but also touched its students' lives, proving that anything is possible with dedication and belief.

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