In celebration of World Teachers' Day, we’re shining the spotlight on one of Teach For All’s newest partners’ first cohorts of teachers. Teach For Ghana’s first 33 Fellows began leading classrooms in the country’s rural Volt Region in September. Over the summer, the Fellows were deeply immersed in Teach For Ghana’s ongoing training and development program during an intensive six-week Summer Institute. The following reflection by Carolina Ramirez, Teach For Ghana’s Director for Fellowship and Alumni Impact, illustrates how the Fellows’ Summer Institute experiences are foundational for their journey as educators and leaders for change.
This year’s Institute theme “Imagine. Engage. Grow.” focused on fostering a strong sense of possibility, a willingness to tackle challenges, and grow from it all. During the first week of Institute, Fellows learned about the realities they would face while teaching in some of the most underserved rural communities in Ghana. Fellows engaged in various activities to build a vision for, and with, their students that is both collaborative and rooted in the strengths and values of their community. To deeply understand the realities of their students’ lives, Fellows engaged in activities where they worked with students to understand the challenges they and their families face in their daily lives, including, quite literally, the distances they must walk to attend school every day, which can take close to an hour each way, and fetching water for their schools. Grounded in this experience, we began to see a sense of collective bonding among students, Fellows, community members, and staff members. These experiences build the foundations for a cohort that is categorized by a strong bond and sense of mutual reliance to succeed toward our vision that one day all children will have access to an excellent education.
Throughout Institute, Fellows participated in subject-specific, classroom management, and leadership development sessions, in parallel to a teaching practicum in four schools in Berekuso, in the Eastern region of the country—classrooms very similar to those that Fellows are now teaching in in the Volta region. During their training, the Fellows focused on classroom culture, maximizing the learning process for students by checking for understanding, and building critical thinking skills.
By the end of Institute, the Fellows had grown in tremendous ways. They felt a strong desire to build a meaningful relationship with their students to co-drive the learning process and anchor their students’ aspirations to their classroom goals. They began to understand the larger vision of expanded opportunity and to work backward to tie their actions to it. They developed a sense of ownership over this vision and worked with intentionality to achieve ambitious student outcomes, building their leadership and teaching capacity. Through frequent reflections, Fellows learned to look inward and act with purpose. They worked relentlessly to create a warm and welcoming environment where all students felt valued and included, and they worked collectively to build a new narrative of effective, empowering student-centered classroom culture.
Institute ended with our Fellows feeling such high energy and an eagerness to enter schools. Our first cohort has now spent three weeks in the classroom and their sense of possibility is awe-inspiring despite the sometimes daunting challenges and realities they and their students face. In the months and years ahead, we will continue to work together to reach our ambitious vision.