Student Outcomes
Chapter: Preface to Student Outcomes

Why I do what I do

preface-self

Hi! I am Archana Iyer from Bangalore, India and I am the Director, Transformational Outcomes for The Learning Lab at Teach For All. This picture is from 2011 when I taught a class of forty-two, 5th graders in a government school in Mumbai as a Teach For India Fellow

When I began teaching, my students were three years behind grade level, a challenge by itself. But my biggest challenge was tackling the acute lack of self-belief the students experienced coming from low-income migrant communities, the gender biases they held and the lack of purpose their parents felt in sending them to school.  I saw how inequity perpetuates when teachers at school linked academic achievement to the boys while emphasizing the domestic role of women among the girls. But I also saw how a class of 42 students can work towards academic achievement and become strong, confident, young advocates for equity and justice.

Today 12 of my students are on a fast-track program towards better results in grade 10, but there are also 8 students who will not be writing their grade 10 state-level examinations because they are so far behind in the requisite knowledge and skills. Each day I feel deeply moved to think about the fundamental questions I pursue as a part of my role – what does it take to put students on an enduring path towards expanded life opportunities and how do we know today that they are on that path. I am also constantly pushed to think about those 8 students of mine who are no longer on this path – I cannot help but ruefully admit that at every step they tried to take forward, we as a collective system failed them. Whether it was the parents’ inability to make a choice on putting their oldest child to work to add a few extra rupees to the household income, the school’s inability to provide for assistance to students with different learning needs, the system’s inability to provide for quality, affordable healthcare or the policy around “passing” every child till 8th grade without any accountability on learning the requisite skills only to hold them back in grade 9 and 10.

As a commitment towards seeing the potential residing in every single child and enabling those around the child to see and realise the same, I chose to be a part of the Learning Lab team. I am deeply humbled to be in this role and learn from the experts in this field while observing transformational teacher practitioners who go beyond the ‘usual’. I feel an immense sense of urgency to understand what it takes for our students to be on a different life path while completely acknowledging that the entire onus is not upon on those young shoulders but equally if not more so on the system to work for each and every child.


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[…] Archana wrote a provocation paper on Student Outcomes and the PADA Framework that digs into all of this content. You can read her paper here. […]