Applying Agile Principles in Primary School Education: An experience

An important issue that has plagued the Indian sub-continent is that of education and more importantly primary education. Since past few months, my weekends are usually occupied in teaching English classes to underprivileged children from 5th grade at a government primary school. As an Agile coach and a practitioner I was drawn towards unifying the concepts of Agile to help increase the quality of education.

 

As a teacher, I was given a set of high level goal by the school administrator that needs to be accomplished every quarter. My goals for the first quarter were :

  • > Kids should be able to identify basic words
  • > Form short sentences.
  • > Converse reasonably in English

 

I started with the traditional chalk and blackboard style of teaching focusing on the spellings, grammar, sentences, reading and so on. In initial few sessions, I quickly realized that it took too long for the kids to understand and so was not yielding the desired results. Some of the problems were like

  • > Too much focus on semantics and grammar
  • > Kids not opening up in the class room
  • > Only able to read words but not talk or frame sentences

 

This is where I had to reflect and consider course correction in my style of teaching and Agile came to my rescue. This is a talk which highlights how Agile techniques were applied in teaching kids effectively.

 

 

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

The process mechanics is as below

  • Context Setting [2 mins]:
    • Introduction.
    • Problem space.
  • Application of Agile to achieve the teaching goals [16 mins]
    • Individuals and Interaction over Process & Tools:
      • Interactive team games where students were encouraged to speak and participate rather than listen and follow.
      • Building trust factor within the team by helping weaker members of team of come forward.
    • Working software over Comprehensive Documentation: To deliver the desired results
      • Stress laid on speaking English in comfortable way rather than grammatically correct sentences.
      • Understanding the essence of the sentence.
      • Sprint cycles of 1 week - Homeworks, review and sneek peek into what coming next week to increase the level of enthusiasm.
    • Customer collaboration over Contract Negotiation.
      • Taking feedback from school administrator, getting requirements charted out.
      • Involving the teachers and faculty in above activities.
    • Responding to Change over Following a Plan
      • Changing the focus (in terms of methods of teaching) if the overall velocity of learning is slowing down or speeding up.
  • Q&A [2 mins]

               

Ideal time for this session is around 30 mins. I have to fit it in the 20 minutes time slot by reducing the details and focusing only on the correlation of the practices.

Learning Outcome

How agile principles can be applied beyond the typical realms of Software IT industry

Target Audience

Agile Practitioners, Agile Coaches

schedule Submitted 3 years ago

Comments Subscribe to Comments

comment Comment on this Proposal
  • Prasad
    By Prasad  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Reject, don't see fitment to any themes.  May be next time we may consider a theme Agile & Society

    ~Prasad

  • Jerry Rajamoney
    By Jerry Rajamoney  ~  3 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi archana,

    Thanks for choosing a topic on the noble work you are doing. I really appreciate it.

    Just to get clarity on how this proposal suits in this track I have the following query. I liked the analogy you have drawn between Agile manifesto and the work you perform.But if I take the parameters like underprivileged children & government primary school,then this is what performed by every kinder garden school teachers especially in the Montessori method like learning by doing, etc. Do you have any other value add points to mention here?

    Thanks,

    Jerry

     

    • Archana Joshi
      By Archana Joshi  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Thanks Jerry for your comments & my apologies for not being able to reply earlier.

      "Just to get clarity on how this proposal suits in this track I have the following query."
      [Archana] For me "beyond agile" means not only looking at other methodologies & techniques apart from agile.
      But, also trying to see if the agile values can extend their implementation in the areas where
      it is not usually applied. In this case, the primary education sector.

      "I liked the analogy you have drawn between Agile manifesto and the work you perform.But if I take the parameters like underprivileged children & government primary school,then this is what performed by every
      kinder garden school teachers especially in the Montessori method like learning by doing, etc."
      [Archana] Yes, I would agree that at pre-primary level (kindergarten) the teacher employ interactive teaching methods. But this is not the case for higher classes especially in govt. schools. There are challenges like -
      high teacher student ratio, quality of teaching, students disinterested in studies, irregular attendance etc.
      In such situations it is important to ensure that there is a frequent feedback, engaging of the school stakeholders & develop liking in the student for studying. Thus apart from the agile principles stated in the proposal above, I also encourage students to look at the syllabi they need to accomplish in the quarter. Every week students themselves track where they are and how much more is remaining to be burned down from their syllabi. Based on this retrospection, course correction is then done by the teacher & students.


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    1. Adopting a SuHaRi model of Inform-Perform-Transform  
    2. Aligning the roles and responsibilities to aid Continuous Improvement
    3. Building a rewards and recognition programme for increased participation
    4. Involving Senior leadership to drive the cultural change by aligning policies and principles
    5. Measuring engagement and effectiveness – not only in terms of measurable metrics, but also in terms of intangible benefits