Inspiration and Collaboration: Network Teachers and Alumni Gather in Brussels for "Sprout to Be Teach"

Killian Simon and Fiona Buidin, Teach For Belgium Alumni

In April, participants and alumni of 10 Teach For All network partners across Europe gathered for the second annual Sprout to Be Teach,  a four-day gathering in Brussels that aims to contribute to building a network of professionals from the European education sector.  Organized by Teach For Belgium alumni, the event is designed to spark the collaboration, learning, and exchange of ideas among participants, and to highlight the similarities and differences between the contexts in which European teachers work, in order to find solutions to our common struggles.

This year, our Teach For Belgium Fellows were joined by participants of Teach For Armenia, Teach For Austria, Teach For Bulgaria, Teach First Deutschland, Le Choix de l'├ęcole, Renkuosi Mokyti! (Lithuania), Teach For Slovakia, Teach For Sweden and Teach For Ukraine. Our theme was “How to Empower Your Students," and we worked together for four days—with plenty of Post-its, paper, pictures, glue, and scissors—to arrive at a shared definition.

Our time together included inspiring sessions led by Teach For Belgium alumni who discussed their current projects, and by the leaders of several organizations that work to empower students living in lower income communities. On Monday, participants spread out across Antwerp and Brussels to visit four different schools, where they were welcomed by Teach For Belgium Fellows who introduced them to the complex Belgian educational system.

To close the event, we had a pleasant picnic in the Rouge-Clo├«tre monastery, in a forest near Brussels. Participants presented poems and shared final thoughts about the four intense days we spent together. “I feel very inspired about how to better empower my students after this,” one attendee said. “It was so nice to be among so many wonderful like-minded people,” shared another.

A week after the final day of Sprout to Be Teach, we learned that the Sprout team was selected to receive the 2019 Teach For Belgium Jury Award, which provides funding to expand the event next year. We share our excitement with the 23 amazing participants without whom Sprout 2019 could not have been such a great success!

Fun Fact: Wondering about our weird name? Check out the Sprout to Be Brussels campaign that inspired us. Let’s all be Sprout to (be) Teach!

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