What has been the impact of your solution to date?
To date, ConTextos' has transformed teaching practice in 40 teachers so that over 1,200 students enjoy an education that goes beyond copying and dictation to deep thinking and expression. During this process, parents and community members participate and get involved in reading at school and home. As a result, schools boast a reading culture, where students (and their families) have more opportunities to think deeply, express themselves through writing, dialogue and discussion.
The Getting Together program was born out of teachers' need to directly address students' violent or disrespectful actions. Though we have only had 2 months of program implementation, teachers report increased verbal skills, more patience and respect in classroom dialogue and during recess. Students take turns in class, show decreased bullying and exclusion of more needy classmates (financially, physically or academically).
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
Our current agreement with the Ministry of Education (MINED) will take ConTextos into six additional schools in 2013-14, reaching 3,000 students. At the same time, the teachers we serve model best-practice and facilitate materials distribution to dozens of additional teachers who in turn multiply access to students exponentially.
Through our close relationship with MINED and with the support of our private sector partners, once we publish the Getting Along Curriculum after this first pilot year, we will be able to work with MINED to take the curriculum into dozens of other private and public schools, serving thousands of additional children.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Teachers might worry about the sustainability of the program, as so many initiatives come and go. This will be overcome because of ConTextos' unique model of constant support for 2-4 years. Another challenge is that developing dialogue and getting-along skills represents a cultural shift from traditional efforts that focus only on imparting "values" content and not on real-life and participatory experiences. ConTextos fosters cultural shifts through on-going support and constant reflection with teachers.
ConTextos' on-going support, especially during this pilot year or the Getting Along curriculum, allows us to create and revise materials with teachers based on real experiences with kids, so that we can scale the materials effectively and sustainably.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Increased dialogue during class and play time.
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Evidence of success and taking the program to other schools.
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
Classrooms without books, with students silently in rows copying copying copying meaningless words from a chalkboard was the Aha! moment. Studies show links between low-literacy and violence, but to see a traditional classroom, it is clear why El Salvador suffers from violence: no one learns to talk, agree, disagree, at school. Getting kids to think deeply, express themselves clearly and safely is essential to forming citizens capable of living in peace.
As ConTextos' work evolved in 2011, we realized that essential skills for dialogue like raising hands, listening, imagining someone else's point of view didn't come naturally. Teachers noted that now that kids were allowed to share their opinions, they lacked procedures, habits and knowledge to create safe, tolerant, listening environments. Thus, the Getting Along curriculum was born, to create authentic experiences where kids can live empathy, implement those skills in the classroom, and carry over that attitude into life.