Avinya Foundation

#22 Uniforms, Norming, Storming, Performing and Roofs

Let’s start with uniforms this week. 

We gave out our first set of uniforms to our enrolled students this week. Let me tell you that the sheer look of happiness on everyone’s faces, parents and students, could only be compared with our excitement to teach them and empower them through the curriculum and learning experience that awaits.

“It’s a great feeling for me just to put my uniform on and be part of my team.” – Johan Santana

The room was buzzing with excitement and the Educator team smoothly toggled from interviews to uniform distribution to record keeping. As I looked around at the team, all I could think of was that I was so happy and proud to be a part of such a great team.

I’m sure you would remember a few months ago from the blogs how our wonderful Educator team was only a hope away. Now, they are a reality and we couldn’t have asked for a better team. Like that our full student Recipe 120 is only a hope away and we can’t wait to see this become a reality! Here’s to forming.

Speaking of great teams, for some reason forming, norming, storming and performing has been on my mind. I remember learning about this ages ago at a management training program. A group dynamic model by Bruce W. Tuckman. Interesting link here on this: https://hr.mit.edu/learning-topics/teams/articles/stages-development

Why? Maybe because it’s been that kind of a week, where all of us knew we couldn’t have made it this far if not for each other. 

So, more on teams…

Our technology team, has been inadvertently diverted to tech support. We’ve had a week of device testing and found every moment so useful. From password protocol documents to device operation tips, every day has been a day to find out new things and then find out ways to learn from it.

Lots of learning early and often all around!

Lakshman’s got an important message out this week. Our enrollments will close very soon so we are really in the final stretch of our shortlisting and interviews.

Which brings me to quote 1 for the week 🙂 Always a good reminder when we feel we are at the start or the last stretch of a race…

​”Successful innovation is not a single breakthrough. It is not a sprint. It is not an event for the solo runner. Successful innovation is a team sport, it’s a relay race.” – Nguyen Quyen

They say it’s not easy to trail blaze 😉 But it’s a whole lot easier when you have a fantastic team with you!

Apart from technology and final sprints, we’ve been piled up with a lot of documentation this week. I’m not a fan of documentation on a good day so I’m reaching into some of my coping mechanisms. It’s worked somewhat as we had a visitor this week who commented that all was so calm considering we had to achieve a very challenging feat over the next few weeks 🙂 

What’s life without some challenging feats and storms? I learnt from a young age that if you smile a lot and laugh a lot sometimes a storm can almost be bearable. If you are lucky enough to have some great people around you then it’s a forming, norming performing storm indeed! 😉 

From storms to operations 😉 we’ve had more documentation and procurement to think of. As another visitor remarked this week looking at the mountain of uniforms on the side of our office space – we are definitely what a start up looks like. A year ago, I had no idea what a start up meant. Not really. We won’t be a start up for very long, so now I’m cherishing the last few moments of the grind. Trying to commit to memory all the lessons learnt.

Finally to roofs!

I think I’ve saved the best for last this week. I hope you will share my excitement. 

“The sky’s the limit if you have a roof over your head.” – Sol Hurok

This week Avinya got a roof over her head!

It’s been a surreal journey to say the least. When construction began 3 months ago, this seemed like a dream. Yet, here we are on the threshold of a new chapter. A chapter that holds the key to the first Avinya Academy in Bandaragama.

Why does the roof matter? It means we’ve completed close to 80% of the main construction and our building will be ready very, very soon.

Let me talk about our building a bit this week. It’s a special, unique, one of a kind building. I think I’ve used enough synonyms to convey the point! There are many concepts, beliefs and values rooted in its design, its construction and its presence.

The concept was lily pads.

This lily pad concept blew us away when our architect Dan Ameresekere presented it to us just 4 months ago. 

So what’s so special about our spaces?

Learning lily pads

Collaborative lily pad-shaped learning spaces await our Avinya students. 


Picture a classroom without borders or boundaries. Open learning spaces which encompass the beauty of nature, inspires one to encapsulate and learn from what’s around them and give them the headspace to thrive in a creative, uninhibited learning space.

As I looked out from one of the lily pad classrooms, my view was a sea of green foliage, a serene lake and the soft murmurs of the bird life around us. For a moment I was lost in the magic of what was all around us. The simplicity and beauty of nature is going to be a central part of not only our curriculum but integrated into our holistic learning principles. 

Bridges and common spaces 

Bridges from one classroom to another, patterned brick floors and cosy educator office spaces all align with the concept of unique yet minimalistic. There’s a wide open space for a cafeteria which we hope will be a place of calm, relaxation and most importantly friendships. 

Not only that, it is nestled amidst a body of water and pineapple fields as well as plenty of open spaces around the academy to make this a space where you leave your worries at the door and breathe in the fresh air of inspiration and creativity.

As you move to the ground floor and look up at the building, you will see a simple yet somehow inviting structure of classrooms which lend themselves to collaboration, cooperation and most importantly community.

Our students haven’t walked through the doors yet. But we know these doors, these walls, these roofs will have many a story to tell in the coming weeks. Stories of hope, of perseverance and most importantly of passion and purpose!

– Anju

P.S. If anyone would like to watch the session Dee and I did on the 4Cs and Fun with Writing IATEFL YLTSIG has made it available on youtube till the end of March: https://youtu.be/-58mivrV2-g