We had the privilege of interacting with Mr. Rishabh Khanna, the visionary leader behind Suraasa, a globally recognised career growth platform for teachers. With an unwavering commitment to elevating education standards worldwide, he has pioneered a transformative approach to teacher education. Through his extensive expertise and relentless pursuit of excellence, he has positioned Suraasa as a frontrunner in the field.
In this exclusive interview, let’s look into Rishabh’s inspiring journey, his vision for the future of education, and the profound impact his company is making on educators and students across the globe.
Introduction of the Founder
Hi, I am the founder of Suraasa, Mr Rishabh Khanna. I have been working on teacher’s education for one and a half decades now. I am very passionate about enabling quality teaching and successful teachers. Suraasa is my second venture working with teachers and for teachers. And my team and I are working every day to build the world’s largest network of highly skilled teachers.
What inspired you to start Suraasa?
Suraasa is our second venture into teacher education. My first venture was also quite similar. That venture started as a student education and skilling platform. And there we were impacting tens and thousands of students in different parts of India. One thing that always stayed with me while collecting data on skilling students was that there was a lot of work required. Doing 10-15 days of workshops is not going to do anything for a lifetime. We have to do it on an everyday basis. And, that’s where working with an education stakeholder who meets the students every single day of the year, came into the picture. So, the thought process was how we skill teachers at that level that they can take go ahead and can impart the best quality knowledge, the best quality education, where they can revolutionise the evolution of students in their journey.
How do you ensure that your teachers are highly skilled and qualified?
Unlike other teacher training companies who do webinars and seminars for training where trainer speaks for hours. We don’t do that at all. What we do is we have created an end-to-end journey where we create a profile of teacher who comes on board, we identify what are their current skillsets, what are their goals, what are the results they want from us. Then we decide and do goal building for them. Then we create a map for them, for how they move from their current skillset to the target skillset or whatever they want to achieve. And then, we train them in live instructor sessions. The sessions are taken by professors from different parts of the world like the USA, and the UK. Once, they have completed their live classes or video-based classes, they have to build their skill evidence which are then verified by professionals from different parts of the world. Then we give feedback to the teachers like which things were fine, which things have to be changed, and continuously mentor them for 10-12 months. And then, when they have achieved all of their skills which have been verified by the professionals, we tell them that they are ready to launch. This journey is not just about speaking with people for hours, it is also about taking responsibility for the outcomes and that is what really sets up apart. And that is why thousands of teachers trust us today.
What is the feedback from teachers about this thing?
While there are a lot of negative and positive things around on an everyday basis, one of the highlights for us is, this is a teaching programme that transforms teaching and learning, Also, they share some critical feedback like it is such a difficult course, I did not expect it to be so difficult. If someone is joining our course, they have to work very hard for almost 7-8 months and that is why we have a guarantee that they have gained something from us.
What kind of support and resources do you provide to your teachers?
We provide a lot of things. Right from learning resources to help them understand various things like how to teach in the classroom, how to maintain the best relationships with the parents, the management, how to map their career journey, we try to be their mentors throughout their journey. That’s What Suraasa wants to develop, we are working on it every single day.
If somebody joins us, we stand by them throughout their career. So, if somebody has done a program with us for one year, and that person wants support and guidance from us after 10 years from now, they can very comfortably come back to us, talk to their mentors without any cost and move ahead in their life.
Similarly, we also help them connect with schools in different parts of the world. We also conduct interviews which help them showcase their skillsets around the world and get placed. We also have teachers from small cities, who have got a direct 5X jump in their salaries within 6-8 months after joining our program. We also have teachers who have moved from India to the US with almost a 10x jump in their salary. And we have been there connecting with them to their schools, employers.
What kind of marketing and outreach efforts have you made for Suraasa?
Our biggest outreach effort is we have built a community. For us, qualifications do not only mean helping teachers. We actually go out and do a lot of things like we do masterclasses, we do free courses, we do a lot of different kinds of engagement activities. We many times do offline talks with teachers. Mostly, these are all free for teachers where they can come, participate and learn. And when they learn and feel like achieving a big milestone, they can come to our mentors for guidance which is also absolutely free. If they feel they want to work with Suraasa, they can and if they feel they are fine with themselves, they can take counselling and go back. Our marketing is all about creating value for teachers out there.
As a founder, what did you learn?
I learned a lot! It is always a learning journey. You learn every single day. Right from managing, we have a huge team and we have thousands of people around the world who are part of the platform. With all this professional learning, there is also a lot of personal learning that happens. Many times, we face a lot of small and big problems in life, but as a founder, you connect to so many people around you, you learn that your personal problems are not as big as the global problem that teachers face. And then you start feeling life is beautiful! The biggest learning is that the world is not beautiful, you have to make the world beautiful; and how to achieve our own goals while helping others to achieve their goals. And this is what Suraasa is trying to do.
So Arti Nair, the winner of the 3rd edition of the Teacher Impact Award joined us to share her experience with Suraasa.
How long have you been in the teaching industry?
This is my 12th year in the education industry. I have worked as a teacher, I’ve worked as a curriculum coordinator, I’ve worked as a head of the department and currently, I’m the curriculum director at a not-for-profit organisation called Launch gURLs.
How was your experience so far with Suraasa?
So I joined Suraasa in the year 2022, actually 2021. So this is my second year actually. And my experience with Suraasa has always been wonderful. It was very easy for me to actually get in touch with someone when I saw their website. I basically, had a way of contacting someone to help me understand what the program is about and what the certification entails and once that happened they helped me figure out a loan as well to apply to Suraasa and basically join their program. And once I joined their program, they scheduled all of our classes and you know, they set us up with this platform, the Suraasa platform that actually helps us complete our assignments, submit our assignments and all of that. It’s basically a content management platform. And yeah, overall it’s been great. I mean all of the instructors that they have are brilliant, David, Brian, all of them, all of them are people in the education industry. They’ve been in schools before. So they did a lot of the sessions with us. So when I attended these sessions as an educator myself, I could tell that Suraasa knew what it was doing. Like they are experts at teaching and learning and pedagogy. Their sessions were extremely engaging and they were informative as you attend the session, they were also modelling some of the best practices that you can take back to your own spaces, and your own classrooms if you want to. So in terms of just the sessions that they facilitated with us, it was wonderful. And besides that, I think there are assignments that we kind of have to complete to get the PgCTL certification. And while one could argue that there are too many assignments to complete. These assignments are also of high quality, so the questions that they’re asking, they’re good questions to ask. They’re actually pertinent to today’s educational space and they also expect us to produce good work. So when we submit something and it’s not up to the mark, they don’t shy away from sending it back to us and saying hey you probably need to rework this.
And that’s one of the biggest things that I kind of admire. I know, my classmates may be breaking their heads with the assignments, and so am I. So it’s a lot to complete. But I do appreciate the quality check that Suraasa offers in terms of the assignments. I think there are so many colleges in India that are a joke. I was trying to get a teaching certificate and I was trying to get it, and I’ve approached several other colleges who said, oh, don’t worry, we’ll give you somebody else’s lesson plans and you can just copy it down or you don’t have to actually spend time on this. And I think that’s actually what’s wrong with our teaching industry in India. And that’s specifically where I went to Suraasa because Suraasa is doing this the right way, ethical role and also making sure that the teachers that come through Suraasa’s programmes are credible and qualified and know what they’re talking about and saying yeah.
What challenges do you face and how has Suraasa helped you?
So for me, the challenges are just a little different I think, because I have been in this industry for a very long time and I’m actually trying to get a PgCTL, mostly because I want to get into other international schools. And international schools within India and outside of India. The thing about getting into international schools is that there is beyond just your ability to teach and your expertise with the content.
I think there are also a lot of other factors, such as your degrees and whether you have a certified teaching qualification, whether you’ve taught in other international schools, whether you’ve taught certain syllabuses, and especially if you’re trying to actually go to an International School outside the country, then there are other complications, such as how easy is it for you to get a visa? What does your spouse do so?
It’s not purely the game of what you are and aren’t able to do as a teacher. And what I was really hoping to get from Suraasa when I applied for the PgCTL programme was a teaching certificate. , You know, validity, saying hey, OK, she is a qualified teacher who can teach anywhere in the world and that was what I was really looking for when I actually applied to Suraasa. But as I started to do the course, I mean, I’m obviously learning a lot more than I had bargain for, which is good for me because I’m staying up to date on what’s happening in the education space. So yeah, I mean in terms of helping me with my challenges I think they will be helping me to get placed in international schools when I wish to. Also, they would be helping to negotiate salaries as well as I have worked for a significant period of time and now as I have moved out of schooling space and now I am working for a non-profit space despite still being in education and right now I am not in a classroom. So, in terms of challenges, they offer support as much as one needs, as long as we ask for it.
What is so unique in Suraasa that you joined it?
The quality of work that they do, the quality that they ensure their students have and the quality of their instructors they have, all of this is likely the main reason that I joined Suraasa. When I looked at the instructors, I noticed that they are people who have been training other teachers from various schools around the world so definitely they are up to date about what is going on in teaching practices all over the world. In terms of ensuring our quality, they are not shy in asking us and giving us honest feedback like you need to revise your work or you need to submit some assignments again. I liked that the organisation is able to put in such good quality of work and it is one of the basic reasons why I joined Suraasa. The second one is that I am able to do this while working full-time. And the third thing is that it is a worldwide recognised teacher training certificate.
Our interview with Rishabh Khanna and one of their learners has provided deep insights into the remarkable work being done by Suraasa in the realm of teacher education. Their unwavering dedication to empowering educators globally is evident in their innovative programmes and commitment to excellence. By equipping teachers with the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources, Rishabh and their team at Suraasa are making a significant impact on education and shaping the future of learning. Through his visionary leadership and unwavering passion, Suraasa continues to inspire and transform the lives of countless educators and students worldwide.