Teach for India Fellowship:

The Fellowship–The Broader Picture:

Teachers are not made; they are born. When we look back to our school days, I’m sure each of us will remember one special, favorite teacher, isn’t it? Close your eyes and think for a moment…it doesn’t take longer than that to get those flashes of memory. Why were they special? Because they knew their subject well? Because they loved you and favored you in particular? Because they looked good? Maybe all of it….but one quality that sets them apart from the rest of the entire community of teachers who have taught you is the way they taught…the way they made you fall in love with the subject they taught, and most importantly the way they made you look forward to their class over and over again. Do you think you have it in you to teach in the same way to impress young minds? Are you someone who is passionate about teaching, particularly the under-privileged children? Is teaching more than a mere career option for you? Do you want to do more with your teaching skills than simply teaching in a normal school? Then perhaps it’s time you consider Teach for India Fellowship.

To cut the introduction short, Teach for India fellowship looks out for India’s brightest and most promising youth from prominent universities and workplaces in India and abroad. These brilliant youth teach the under-privileged children across the country. This brings the Fellows in close proximity with students, parents, principals of schools and other key stakeholders to understand what goes into the working of the education system in our country at the grassroots level. This facilitates learning and helps them identify their role to spearhead educational equality in the country. In the process, they hone their minds towards leadership positions in the education industry. 

Teach For India Fellowship: How It all Began?

It all began to take shape in 2007 when Shaheen Mistri (the brain behind Teach for India Fellowship) met Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America. Inspired by Wendy, Shaheen started Teach for India fellowship in 2009 to address the education inequality in our country because she understood that in leadership lay the solution. The alumni from the two year fellowship went on to become teachers, teacher trainers and government policy makers. Over the years the fellows and alumni have realized that the grand vision and mission of the fellowship cannot be the achieved by the efforts of a single person or a batch of students but by the whole tribe and therefore, they strive relentlessly in unison to make this dream a possibility.

Teach for India Fellowship: What Do They Do?

Teach for India fellowship brings about change in the society in two ways: 

  1. As already mentioned in the beginning, it brings in fellows to teach the under-privileged children in under-resourced schools across the country. Through this, it helps the fellows become the future leaders in the education system by understanding the grassroots level better.
  2. In the long term, these alumni take up various roles surrounding and supporting the education sector. They do this by becoming journalists, policy makers, teachers, principals, teacher trainers and even corporate honchos. The ultimate purpose is to ensure that every child in this country has access to education and realize his/her true potential.

Teach for India Fellowship: What It Takes To Become A Fellow?

The two year fellowship is for critical thinkers and problem solvers who don’t merely have the passion for teaching. They must have the courage to exceed their own expectations and also that of others. Needless to say, they must exhibit leadership qualities and impressive interpersonal skills to interact with stakeholders. It is open for college students, working/experienced professionals and even entrepreneurs. 

Selection Procedure:  The selection happens through three stages and it is not just highly sought after but also highly selective. The first stage is filling up of a detailed application form to understand you and how you could possibly fit in. This Is followed by an online test (AMCAT) which tests your English language skills and how you judge a situation. For this you are given 4 days and only when this is submitted your application is considered complete.

Once the application is reviewed, the panel may have additional questions to ask you to understand you better. For this, they invite you for a phone interview to evaluate you better. This could be for approximately half an hour.

Next comes the final assessment. If your application goes well so far, you are called for an in-person assessment to one of the assessment centers. Here you have to give a teaching demo, participate in group discussion and finish a short problem solving activity. This is followed by an hour long interview with one of the staff members before you are finally selected. Students applying from abroad have the option of attending the interview over Skype.

Post-Selection: Life of A Teach For India Fellow:

The real game begins after the selection. The fellows are meant not only to teach but also to learn in those two years to hone their skills better. Each fellow is allotted a classroom in one of the placement cities and here they are responsible to teach children not just their subjects, but also values to help them become better individuals. Basically, a fellow works towards becoming a better person himself, strives to create and deepen the impact of the organization and finally endeavors to attain educational equity. This may sound simple, but the two years as a fellow is rigorous with training in pedagogical foundations, discussions, planning, content instruction and much more. Besides they need to complete their online training courses. They do get enough support through a full time program Manager who works to provide not just technical but emotional assistance as well. Besides, the fellows are constantly assessed with the help of metrics and assessment tools to ensure that they are on track. Not just that, the Teach for India students are assessed too, to understand how they have evolved as individuals, as students and the impact value-driven education has on their lives. 

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Teach For India Fellows: The Road Ahead:

The learning from the fellowship doesn’t end as the two years draw to a close. The fellows now become leaders, transformers and influencers. As they complete the fellowship, they find a newer self and understand the power of collective action to bring an impactful change in the education ecosystem. The fellowship brings in a change not just in the fellows, but also their students and their parents. If all of these excite you and if you see yourself as the one spearheading the educational movement in our country by making education accessible to all, then your search ends here. If you want to transform and be transformed in the process, then you must take the plunge—Teach for India is THE place for you to be.

-Janaki Sreenivasan

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