How do we measure success for our work?

I have been pondering over this question over the last few months. Much like the rest of the not-for-profit sector, I am still trying to find an answer which satisfies me. Numbers won’t do. Classes conducted won’t do. It is the softer aspect of impact which counts.

As an organisation, we want to see “impact” on the children. And while we create strategies and measure the “impact”, there is another crucial element worth all the focus. The trained facilitators.

Our coaches come for humble backgrounds, they have grown up in Dharwad or nearby areas and gone through the Indian education system. They are a mix of professionals, home-makers, trained football coaches, vocalists and students.

When these coaches came to us three months ago, they came with their baggage – for them an ideal classroom has been children sitting quietly with the teacher talking. For them music classes focus exclusively on music and football on the sport. And our challenge was not only to help them develop the skills of an effective facilitator but also to unlearn the concept of an ideal class. Thus began our journey.

I still remember the awe on the face of some of the facilitators when a music game connected to problem solving. Or the aha expression when football was used to speak about conflict resolution. It was like their bubble popped open leading to a broadened world. While they quickly understood the program rationale and the concept of life-skills, breaking the mold of an ideal class was more of a challenge.

I still remember the first class I observed – the children were quiet and seated. Some of the Delhi coaches of Music Basti would have killed to be in a class like this. In the process, I wondered, what can be done to add more of a zing to the class. In came more games, more exercises, more engaging activities – not for the students but for the facilitators to understand how to generate “productive noise” in a classroom.

Visiting the classrooms of facilitators who you have trained can be a “butterflies in your stomach” kind of an experience. It is like taking an examination you will never write on your own, and yet will be graded. So earlier this month, when teams from Music Basti and Just for Kicks were visiting music and football classes respectively, I was excited for sure but a little bit nervous as well.

It was heartening to know that the coaches are doing a great job. They have picked up facilitation skills and taken the right tools into their classrooms. The students are engaged, talking, asking questions and actively participating through the class. They are listening and responding to the coaches.

The coaches are being facilitators for majority of the class time. However, one crucial feedback which struck a cord with me was the confidence level of the coaches themselves. In the last three months, we have seen all of them break out of a shell and find a strong foothold for themselves as creators and facilitators in the classroom.

Yes there are challenges – some of the classes still lack energy; we need more positive re-enforcement in the classroom; we need to focus more on the “fun” elements of the class, but the feedback from the dynamic training team of Music Basti and Just for Kicks has been a great propeller.

Defining success may take some time for a new organisation like ours, but currently I see success in the form of impact we have had on the coaches. And that is the best festive season gift for us as social sector professionals

-Reha Bublani, Head Curriculum






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