Building immersive remote-support structures to adapt to a global pandemic
GSL, having worked in India through various other programs, was keen to support a local partner in building a robust school leadership training ground. Legally incorporated in April 2020, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, we helped establish Alokit, a partner organisation that delivers training programs for school leaders to drive high-quality schools and education systems.
Impact of the pandemic on school leadership needs
With the onset of the pandemic, school leaders were thrown into tough positions. From having to make decisions of whether to shut down schools or find ways to enable the migration to online platforms, there was a wide range of decisions that needed to be made. These were unprecedented times and school leaders were unprepared to face these challenges with their existing knowledge and skills.
Responding and adapting to the pandemic
With the onset of the pandemic, there was an urgent requirement to adapt and address rising concerns within the education sector. In order to design an effective response that would help school leaders navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, GSL worked with Alokit to build a research framework to capture on-ground stories and data.From this research, it was inferred that school leaders felt a deep sense of responsibility towards the wellbeing of their students but ill-equipped to address and manage the situation. The other aspect that stood out was a lack of resources and skills to manage online learning. Many of the communities were not used to using smartphones. School leaders themselves had not used technology in a meaningful way and were uncomfortable to deploy it across the school.
Designing targeted solutions
With this understanding of grassroots challenges, we were able to work with Alokit to build a solution around these mindsets and develop targeted resources for school leaders. This resulted in the creation of the 'Project Light' program, designed specifically to help school leaders adapt to the COVID crisis. As a part of our effort, we recognised three key aspects that were critical for effective school leadership during this time; student wellbeing, online teaching, and communication with families.Making the pivot to the online medium was a challenge for most school leaders and teachers. Through our program amendments, we helped Alokit structure an approach which was easily accessible and understandable for school leaders. Continuous communication with families of students was seen to be the most pressing issue and through our program, we focussed on supporting families with multiple check-in touchpoints.GSL played a crucial role in understanding the challenges posed due to the pandemic and prioritising the response mechanism. Together with Alokit, we were able to put school leaders at the forefront of their communities’ development. We were able to create inspiring proof points of what it means for educators and school leaders to redefine their role in schools and communities.