“Scaling up” was championed as a key element of success back in business school. But then, in the real world, I saw that a focus on growth and scale came with huge costs to the welfare of employees, the actual client experience, the long-term sustainability of businesses, and the health of our environment.
At Alma, our focus was on quality and depth of effect. We created an innovative pedagogy and delivered it in a unique way to small batches of students and teachers. We had a deep impact on a small number of teachers, students, and their families, and communities.
Then COVID-19 happened. Schools shut down, and the Ministry of Education asked us to deliver training to public school teachers because they had no experience with home-based learning strategies and little experience with technology. As our communities were shut down, we pivoted to meet this challenge.
The trainings on how to use technology effectively and how to inculcate critical thinking into a regular lesson plan have all been done over zoom. We have retrained many of our own teachers to become “virtual” trainers of our core pedagogy to public school teachers. Where once geography limited the number of teachers we could train and class size, technology has opened doors to large numbers to participate regardless of location (assuming the ability to connect to the internet).
“Overnight,” we went from a small charity delivering high-quality education to approximately 500 students in very remote communities to a small charity training 15,000 teachers who in turn are responsible for teaching 190,000 students!
We fell unintentionally into scale.
I am very excited about our prospects to impact such a large number of kids, and I believe that the key to educational success lies with the quality of teachers and their strategies. So, training teachers makes sense at this time. But we must maintain “quality control” and keep the personal touch and heart that has been at the center of everything we having been doing to date.