I get uncomfortable talking about impacts that can’t be measured objectively. It feels like the old western traveling salesmen who would sell miracle potions – all talk and no proof – except I’m selling social/educational impact instead of magic cures. But in this case, because it’s a blog and not an evaluation, I’ll allow myself to soapbox a bit.
I always take notice of how teachers, administrators, and students react to our methodology when they use it in a classroom. There’s always a moment when it all connects and everyone in the room is achieving their goals, thinking deeply, and having fun. It’s an anecdote that, outside of the hard indicators, shows me that what we are doing works, and is therefore meaningful. But the other side of that same process is equally important: Alma staff buy-in.
Too many people consider their work meaningless, and are therefore eager for the next thing. Few stay at one organization for very long. But in Alma, because we believe in what we are doing, we tend to have little turnover, and staff can grow their roles within the organization. All of our project coordinators in regions where we’ve worked for at least 5 years began as teachers in an Alma community project: Octavio began in Colcha; Susan worked in Patatinta, Araypallpa, and then Huadhua Laguna; Leonel in Villa Alba.
They began in Alma as teachers, learned our innovative teaching methodology and approach to local knowledge and project based learning in the classroom in isolated indigenous communities, and saw for themselves the positive impact they created in those communities. It gave their work meaning, so they dug in, learned more, and grew to the point that they are now in charge of training thousands of teachers in our teaching methodology. My personal story is different on the details, but the trajectory is the same.
So though I can’t exactly prove it, I believe a metric of the power of our work is in our own staff. The longevity of our connection to Alma and our growth within the organization is a reflection of the value we place on our own work. I look forward to seeing where this year will take us.
Alma Children’s Education Foundation