Administrator | August 18, 2015

Incubatee spotlight: iTeach

Introducing the other new company to join Villgro's education portfolio. Here, Prashant Mehrishi, a Teach For India alum and co-founder of iTeach writes about the company:

What does your company do?
iTeach is India's first in-service Teaching Fellowship.  It is a one-year programme for fresh teaching graduates (B.Ed Teachers) providing them with professional development opportunities, rewards and recognition.  iTeach is focused on low-income schools, where the lack of both on-the-job training and meaningful incentives has created widespread disinvestment among teachers, leading to poor student learning outcomes.

The Fellowship requires teachers to attend two workshops every month, mostly conducted in their school itself.  These workshops cover integral components such as basic pedagogy, value education, culture building and conceptual and hands-on learning.  Post the workshop, the teachers are expected to implement the learning in their classrooms – with active guidance from our Teacher Coach.

As part of the rewards and recognition structures, the teachers are offered monthly rewards, field trips, a mid-year retreat and a grand end-of-year convention.  In addition, the teachers also receive a monthly stipend.

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Why are you excited about this space?
While pursuing our Fellowship with Teach for India we realized several things: The teacher is the single most important factor in determining a student's learning outcomes. There are many new teachers entering the system every year, full of potential.  Lack of a structured on-boarding process leads to them getting disinvested very quickly, and eventually losing their motivation to become great teachers.

Our hearts went out to these teachers – who were being blamed for low student learning, when in fact these outcomes were despite their best efforts.

In our second year of the TFI Fellowship, they ran a pilot programme with 50 teachers in one such school.  This programme had professional development, coupled with rewards and recognition.  The learning and success of this programme convinced us that if we were to work closely with teachers early on, we would have a significant impact.

What is innovative about your product?
a) iTeach has partnered with several experienced training and classroom resource providers to develop our training programme.  This allows us to leverage their expertise to create a world-class training programme, and in turn gives them access to a pool of motivated and committed teachers.

b) To make the training modules come alive in the classroom, and directly benefit the students, iTeach is providing real-time and on-the-ground coaching.  The Teacher Coach, present most of the time in the school, will assist the teachers in executing the pedagogical methods that they learned in the workshops.

c) We focus heavily on the rewards and recognition part of the Fellowship.  Teachers in low-income schools are underpaid and under-appreciated, and these incentives are key in making the rigorous training programmes effective.

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What is the impact you want to have?
Better teachers create better learning outcomes.  We exist to supply high quality teachers to high-need schools. We are fundamentally working with teachers who have the motivation to excel, but do not have the support system to assist them with this, and as long as we keep our mission focus, we will continue to create impact.  The indirect benefits on students will also stay similar.

How do you think Villgro will help?
By providing us with Initial grant funding followed by investment, Villgro will get our startup off the ground. We also expect expert mentoring and guidance during this journey. We think the quality of incubator leadership and learning opportunities to be provided by Villgro will be of a substantial value for iTeach’s success. In addition to the formal mentoring, the peers we’ll be working with will provide much more than emotional support. We will also be able to network, find resources and expertise in areas we need, as well as quick advice from experts in our initial phases of our business cycle.

Also read yesterday's profile of ESDECS.