Transformational Learning and Leadership
Chapter: Student Outcomes

Student Learning & Leadership

Across cultures and contexts, we see transformational classrooms generally valuing four areas of student growth: 

    • PROFICIENCY –   Academic and career-oriented knowledge and skills that open doorways of opportunity
    • AWARENESS – Understanding of social, political, and cultural context in which students learn and grow and unlearning the majority narrative
    • DISPOSITIONS –  Skills that are predictors for success in school and later in life and tricks that make this complex world easier to navigate
    • AGENCY – Taking charge of one’s learning and being a part of collective action towards an aligned vision

In this chapter, we hope to help you discover actionable implications of student outcomes by illustrating the landscape of student outcomes, by engaging in the patterns we see in strong classrooms, and by virtually visiting with transformational classrooms.

* * *

We All Work in Systems that Don’t Value Transformational Student Outcomes

Many of the teachers across our network work in education systems that emphasize process (how outcomes landscapemany hours is the child in school, what coursework did the teacher do, what books are available) over learning outcomes.  In those contexts, we have no vantage point on student growth, much less on whether that growth is meaningfully broadening their opportunities in years to come.

Other teachers work in systems that do measure student learning. But often those “outcomes” are exclusively academic knowledge and skills, and are usually measured in relatively superficial ways.  While academic achievement (defined rigorously) may be a central and foundational indicator of progress toward an enduring path to broader opportunities, we have too often seen that even dramatic progress in reading, writing, or math one year can crumble the next year under the weight of low expectations, systemic injustices, personal challenges, and/or poor teaching.

Few if any of the education systems in which we work define and measure a suite of student growth outcomes that would give us genuine confidence that the children we work with are growing into leaders on an enduring path to self-determined broader opportunities in life, employment and education. 

And yet, that’s precisely what our most transformational teachers are striving to do.

TF outcomes

Our Challenge: Supporting Broader Outcomes that Align to Our Visions of Student Success

We must build our programs to train and support our teachers to define, measure, and pursue a suite of student outcomes that includes but goes beyond academic achievement — a set of broader, transformational indicators of growth that give us confidence that, as one transformational teacher put it, our students are going to “continue to grow and progress without us.”

Our engagements with some of the most transformational classrooms around the network are revealing meaningful patterns in the “broader student outcomes” that those teachers and students value. Of course,  the terms used are different in different cultures and contexts.  And of course these teachers’ determination student growth to the classroom’s contextualized vision of student success lead to variations in what student outcomes are priorities. 

But underlying those semantics and nuances are four recurring families of student growth.

The PADA Framework

pada-framework

Archana Iyer, the Director of Transformational Student Outcomes at Teach For All writes:

“A key learning that emerged during the two days of [Teach For All’s student outcomes] roundtable [in August 2016] was that the conversation on outcomes is most powerful when the idea of contextualized vision is at the center of it. It was a struggle to discuss outcomes in isolation and by grounding it in vision was critical for the perspectives on tracking progress against those outcomes. The wheel of the framework cues movement towards the vision and the dotted lines indicate fluidity between the four themes as well as the inter-relatedness between them.

  • PROFICIENCY –   Academic and career-oriented knowledge and skills that open doorways of opportunity [reading, writing, STEM, critical thinking, problem solving, aesthetic appeal, artistic curiosity, creative expression]
  • AWARENESS – Understanding of social, political, and cultural context in which students learn and grow and unlearning the majority narrative [personal and cultural identity and assets, systemic injustices, etc.]
  • DISPOSITIONS –  Skills that are predictors for success in school and later in life and tricks that make this complex world easier to navigate [Managing self, managing self in relation to others, innovation and pursuit of goals]
  • AGENCY – Taking charge of one’s learning and being a part of collective action towards an aligned vision [Metacognition of learning, belief in self to change life’s trajectory, impact action on peers as well as community]

Archana goes on:

“These lenses are not actually separable from each other.While there are huge benefits to parsing them out and defining them, there are also costs in the risk that we do not treat them as a holistic set of inter-related ideas.

PADA in Sanskrit means a ‘step’ – these outcomes are a step towards the self-determined opportunities aligned contextualized vision. At the heart of this framework is the contextualized vision.”

In addition to contextual vision being at the heart of which students to identify and how, you’ll notice that environment is another critical factor here. It is important to understand that the PADA framework does not reside in isolation but within a system or an environment. This environment may not necessarily value these outcomes and img_57f4c986aae92there is constant push towards retaining the status quo. 

To be clear, we have not seen any single classroom using the PADA in this form, but these four families of student growth represent a synthesis of the outcomes that most of our transformational teachers seek to hold themselves accountable to.

Let’s look at a few classroom illustrations of teachers living into these outcomes:

 

 

      

 

 

Case Studies in Transformational Student Outcomes

Below are three “virtual visits” with three teachers (the same three teachers who described their contextualized vision in the previous chapter).  In each case, you can read some of the teachers’ and his/her students’ descriptions of the end-of-year aims they were aspiring to and why.  Compare and contrast what you see and hear in the case studies with the PADA framework.

POOJA – TEACH FOR INDIA

pooja

Visit Pooja’s Classroom here. Here are her reflections on her student outcomes:

Academics – I wanted my students to be academically proficient, eager to learn new things and be inquisitive. I wanted them to realize their current academic gap and strive to bridge it through working relentlessly. Be fluent speakers, thoughtful readers and articulate writers. Be able to use the knowledge imparted in their daily lives and be rational while making judgments.

Values and mindsets – I wanted my students to have very strong values of respect, honesty, patience and teamwork. I wanted them to have a never give up attitude. Be confident, competitive and caring. Develop a sense of ownership and responsibility towards their country and surroundings, be proud of their diverse Indian culture and not let their exposure to other cultures overshadow it. Be honest in their thoughts and be confident to put across their viewpoints, honest in accepting their mistakes and make an effort to correct what they have done wrong. Take their failure in a positive sense and work patiently but passionately towards their success. Be willing to work with each other, be competitive and cooperative at the same time. Strive for the best for them and their team.

Access and Exposure – I wanted my students to have holistic learning and realize that there lies opportunity besides academics to excel and express. I wanted to provide them exposure to different kinds of dance, music and art.”

WISDOM – TEACH FOR AMERICA-COLORADO – CLASSROOM OUTCOMES

  • Academic Achievement
  • Personal Growth
  • Social, Political, and Cultural Consciousness
  • Access

SAUL – ENSEÑA POR MÉXICO – CLASSROOM OUTCOMES

  • Academics
  • Values
  • Social Awareness
  • Access
Resources to Learn More & a Repository of Tools

After a roundtable of Teach For All partners and external experts and practitioners to discuss broader student outcomes, Archana wrote a provocation paper on the subject. Her paper, and the PADA Framework, digs into all of this content. You can read her student outcomes provocation paper here.

Moreover, she’s led our network by creating a resource by which to measure outcomes. You can find a repository of resources to capture student growth here. While we have a decent inventory of tools for measuring academic achievement, we have a lot to learn about how to measure these broader outcomes and much to learn about how to best support teachers to pursue them. We’re excited to learn with you.

outcomes-resources

The Maya Musical & a Holistic Education

A Reflection from Co-Director Sanaya Bharucha (Teach For India, 2009)

I came to my convictions about the importance of a holistic education first through seeing how much my studentssanaya were capable as a teacher, and more recently through The Maya Musical. Maya is a partnership between Teach For India Students and artists on Broadway. Tasked to bring light back into her Kingdom, Maya and her friends use the values of courage, compassion and wisdom to lift three great curses that have been cast on the world.

Maya is also a demonstration of what’s possible for low-income children with no previous exposure to the arts. It is a symbol of the kind of education all children deserve – one that integrates academics, values and mindsets, and exposure and access. The Maya journey takes 30 children on a life-changing journey of self-discovery where they, like Maya, literally embark on a journey of discovering their values and their brightest light. The Maya children have travelled across the country, performed at conferences and public spaces, do acts of kindness to practice their values, and are working on a student-led project to spread happiness in 100 ways through the arts.  

If we want to reach ‘One Day,’ children must be equal partners in our fight for educational equity, and their voice must be as important as ours, if not more so. Our role must be to catalyse the development of our students into leaders, and then accelerate and amplify their impact.

At Teach For India, we believe that an excellent education is one that empowers student leadership towards a mayacontextual collective vision of expanded opportunities for ALL students. We believe that student leadership is built through an integration of three aspects – academic achievement, values and mindsets and access and exposure. 

As a first step to this, we must equip our children to succeed in the current educational system, while unleashing their ability and desire to transform it into something infinitely superior. 

Ensuring that our students have access to opportunities that enable them to find (and use) their voice, discover their passions, explore their values, and build a deep understanding of themselves and their worlds, will allow our children to do this.

 And, as we have learned from Maya, the role of the arts and the power of expression is indisputably important in this quest for equity.

To learn more about Maya, visit: Find Your Light and The Making of Maya. To learn more about how you can bring Maya to your work, visit: Maya Packet (integrated lesson plans, Maya story in verse, the script, costumes, etc.) and Maya Key Practices.

Reflection Questions
  • What is the vision teachers in your context are pursuing? Are the classroom visions aligned to the org’s? How do to teachers internalize and act on their visions?
  • What’s helpful and what’s concerning about the ideas in this chapter?

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