The Tech Academy (TTA) started its journey in February 2013 as an alternative school for children in Dhaka with the vision of transforming how they are taught. Although their journey started with offering Robotics courses, their plan is to eventually teach every and any topic a child would be interested in the sphere of technology. The Tech Academy aspires to gamify and revitalize the rather monotonous education system of Bangladesh.
It was during his quest to find teachers that Shams Jaber, the founder of The Tech Academy, came upon the need for communicators instead of experts (the key difference will be established later in the blog). He was inspired to take this initiative basing his ideas of the different ways of learning. In a conversation with him, he emphasized the fact that people can have different learning methods: Visual learning, Auditory learning, Kinesthetic (or hands-on) learning, etc. Furthermore, he realized that Bangladesh’s education system was not suited for all distinctive learners. The method of teaching of traditional teachers favours a very small pool of students. Hence, he identified certain characteristics that are crucial in becoming an effective teacher.
Being a communicator is a personality type and is a crucial part of being a good teacher. These dynamic individuals often use eloquent dialogues, humour and storytelling to help listeners better understand what they are saying. Story-telling can explain a topic, conventionally labelled to be boring, in an interesting way. An effective communicator embraces the different ways their students learn and as such, they are able to use unique tools- such as storytelling, analogy and humour- to effectively deliver an idea to their students.
A communicator cannot teach if a facilitator does not lay a solid foundation for the class. The facilitator thus comprises the second part of the ideal teacher’s characteristics. A good facilitator will plan the lesson in a way that enables students to self learn while they are going through the experience. They are the mastermind behind the class and anticipates students’ reactions to design interactions accordingly. Shams likens a facilitator to a game developer, wherein their work ends once the game is released. Similarly, a good facilitator will plan a lesson that can run without them while enabling the students to learn.
However, the ideal communicator is not always an expert in the field they are teaching. This is something Shams keenly felt once he decided that robotics would be the first course offered by The Tech Academy, a topic he was not familiar with back then. He approached a colleague who was familiar with the field in an effort to get him to teach a group of children but soon discovered that an expert does not necessarily translate into a good teacher. Due to the years they spent gaining their expertise, experts often struggle to relate to beginners and have a better time with people who are already familiar with their subject of expertise (basic knowledge, technical jargon, etc.). Eventually, they changed the plan and decided that Shams would learn from his colleague and would teach the classes instead. He would spend 5 days a week learning from and preparing to teach classes during the weekend.
By identifying the need for effective communicators as teachers, The Tech Academy came up with the concept of Gamification and using a top-down approach in project-based work to teach the subjects offered.
Approaching this unique method of learning, The Tech Academy has been praised for its interactive lessons. Currently, The Tech Academy has more than 150 students who are currently enrolled in its after-school programs and also in collaborative projects with other schools. With projects operating even outside of Dhaka, The Tech Academy has so far reached out to more than 400 children over the years, from all socioeconomic backgrounds. In the following years, The Tech Academy plans on expanding outside of Bangladesh to provide its gamified and futuristic technology education to children anywhere in the world.