Case Study: How Ms. Geeta Lal of Mumbai realised her potential as a School Leader.

Ms. Geeta Lal has been the principal of Guru Nanak National High School for over a decade. In her time, she has balanced the act of administrative duties and academic responsibilities. However, the excitement to watch teachers teach and students learn waned after a few years as more deliverables from the government started coming in, and Ms. Geeta felt untrained for most of the academic work involved in her school. In 2015, she joined ISLI, hoping to reverse the trend thinking that if she was more prepared as a leader, she could help the classrooms would improve too.

 

Discovering key problem areas

At the beginning of the fellowship, Ms. Geeta was uncomfortable addressing larger issues affecting her school, and wanted to only focus on problems at the surface level. For example, fluency in English seemed to be her primary area of concern in her school. However, with ISLI’s inputs focused on academic content and analysing data, Ms. Geeta quickly realised that her issues were far from speaking fluency in English

  • Teachers were not adept enough at planning their lessons
  • Students were not engaged wholeheartedly in class
  • The management had little faith in the school’s ability to change and transform

 

ISLI Intervention: Coming up with a Framework

ISLI worked closely with Ms. Geeta for over two years of the programme. The support included two components:

 

Workshops (Monthly in Year 1 and Quarterly in Y2): The ISLI workshop content is based on academic and leadership content where topics range from How to observe and give feedback to teachers, Math and Science Instruction, Personal Leadership, Staff and Class Culture etc.

These content workshops not only helped Ms. Geeta form an understanding of what to improve in her school, it also helped her form her own evaluation framework for her school. Ms. Geeta felt more confident in asking questions such as What are my school’s strengths, how can I improve my school practices as well as focus on quantitative analysis to support her hypotheses rather than mere guesses.

Programme Manager On-Site Support: Supporting the monthly workshops, ISLI also appointed a City Programme Manager, Mr. Souvik Bhattacharya, to help Ms. Geeta implement her frameworks and conduct guided evaluation with her staff members. In one year, Ms. Geeta was able to implement Lesson Planning for all her teachers (Impact charts below), Formative and Summative Assessments that aligned with each other and drove instruction in classrooms as well as Setting up a uniform classroom culture with common agreements, rewards and consequences.

Other Avenues: Further, through exposure visits in high-impact schools within the city (a public school managed by the Akanksha Foundation), Ms. Geeta experienced a first-hand report of how resource strained schools could still achieve excellent academic outcomes through parent engagement. As she witnessed a parent meeting that involved thorough parent investment and over a 90% turnout, she got more ideas for her school and planned to engage the parents of her own students.

 

Evaluating and realising potential as a School Leader

By the end of the year, Ms. Geeta found that her students were more focussed in class and her teachers were more in control. 7 out of 10 teachers were effectively conducting lesson plans in their classrooms. Within two years, parent engagement saw a notable increase from 66% to 87%.

By evaluating the impact of her efforts she felt significant growth in her school and going forward this made Ms. Geeta became more confident about her approach.

She hopes to continue the trend of positive changes in her classrooms as an ISLI alumna. She has already developed school improvement and development plans for the next year and strives to improve:

  • Summative Assessments to align with conceptual contents
  • Parent engagement through creating a school leadership committee
  • Student clubs for extracurricular
  • Rigorously curating and analysing data from students/teachers/parents
  • Improve the quality of her own feedback to her teachers.
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Ms. Geeta Lal, Principal Guru Nanak National High School
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