Looking Back on the 2013 Global Conference

Reflections from the network
 
We framed this year’s conference around the question of what we mean when we say 'Excellent Education.' What are we working towards?
 
There was no better place to explore our theme than in China, in partnership with Teach For China, whose fellows are so purposeful about working towards ends that are likely to improve the lives and prospects of their students in their particular context. Teach For China’s fellows spend an enormous amount of time getting to know the local context and the hopes and aspirations of local families. They push high expectations for children and at the same time listen deeply and check their preconceptions to inform the ultimate aims they’re working towards with their students.  
 
After a very thought-provoking week, I for one left China more convinced than ever that our success depends on engaging our staff, teachers, and alumni in an ongoing, critical dialogue about what we’re striving to achieve for our students. We must ground this conversation in the aspirations of the families we’re working with, an understanding of the local context—its constraints and opportunities—and an informed sense of the skills and characteristics our students will need to thrive in the future.
 
Beyond thinking about what we’re working towards, we also spent a good deal of time thinking about how to get there. I look forward to continuing the discussions we began in China with all of you throughout out the year ahead.”
 
 Wendy Kopp, CEO & Co-founder, Teach For All
 
 
Mi Zhenhua speaks at Teach For All's 2013 Global Conference“While we always knew that Teach For China was not the only organization fighting education inequity in the world, it was still incredibly thrilling to see more than 200 of our colleagues from all over the world together in the small town of Tengchong. The conference gave us a real chance to learn from each other—it is incredible how well Teach For All partners are doing. I gained a lot not just from the speeches and discussions, but from the many conversations in between. 
 
I want to say thank you to Teach For All and all the partners for coming to Tengchong. Although the infrastructure has improved in recent years, there are still tremendous challenges for our students in creating a different life path. It is very rare for them to get the exposure and support they experienced as a result of the conference. I am sure many partners were approached by students to sign their notebooks, and the group of students who attended the conference went home and shared their experiences with their whole grade. I recently made a second visit to the school my group visited during the conference, and the students there captured a mantis, put it in chalk box, and asked me to bring it back as a gift to one of the partners who had joined them for PE class. All of us at Teach For China truly appreciate that our students have had these interactions with people from different countries. It expanded their world. 
 
We often say that we are facing the same challenges, and it is true that many challenges we try to overcome are similar. I learned that the problems Teach For China faces with student transportation in a mountainous area like Yunnan, TEACH South Africa also faces. But in other ways, each context is very different from the others. It is important that we have the opportunity to learn about each other’s contexts, and gain experiences, strength, and inspiration from each other. The conference allowed us to do all of this. I hope to have the chance to participate in another partner’s context soon.”
 
 Mi Zhenhua, Executive Director of Yunnan Region, Teach For China
 
 
Ta Pholpoke
“It was a privilege to be invited to the CEO Retreat and Global Conference in China. As one of the newer partners coming into the conference, the experience was truly invaluable, from the one-on-one time with CEOs across the network to the immersion experiences in urban Shanghai and rural Tenchong that help us better understand what it will take to give all kids more life choices.
 
My experience at the conference made me deeply reflective of our work in Thailand and how we will define success for our program and the type of transformational change Teach For Thailand needs to make in the classrooms of Bangkok and eventually other regions across the country. As our first recruitment deadline is upon us, we are working tirelessly to attract Thailand's future leaders, and knowing that we are not alone in this work energizes and inspires the team and me. 
 
I'm truly grateful for our time together in China and hope that we stay connected to one another throughout the year in order to share our successes and lessons learned, because it is really through these learnings that we will drive our collective impact against educational inequity.”
 
 TA PHOLPOKE, CEO, TEACH FOR THAILAND

 

 
“Being at the Teach For All Conference in China was a deeply enriching experience for me. It was an inspirational space where people from 35 different nationalities came together to engage in a discussion about how we can give every child the education he or she deserves. Being in this space opened up my mind to many different aspects of educational inequity and how far and deep its roots run across the globe. But being there and seeing so many amazing people committed to the cause of educational equity also made my belief so much stronger that we're on the right path to solve the problem. I could so easily relate to the perspectives and issues on education shared by people from countries that are so very geographically and culturally different from mine. It reminded me of what Wendy said the last time she was in India: “If our problems are the same, then it gives me hope that the solutions must be sharable.” I came back home feeling deeply positive about the road ahead and very connected to the vision of what we’re all working towards.”
 
— CHAITRA MURLIDHAR, TEACH FOR INDIA 2010, PROGRAM HEAD, TSIF TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAM, THERMAX SOCIAL INITIATIVE FOUNDATION
 
“I want to share my excitement from the Teach For All Global Conference. It was a fantastic experience. I had very insightful discussions with over a dozen CEOs and founders which helped me to nail down several issues/questions I have been trying to figure out.
 
To make my wows little bit more credible, let me share with you three major takeaways from our time in China:
 
  • I will build an international team, and for several positions I would prefer for the first start-up years to hire network alumni. From discussions at the conference, I believe there are strong benefits to having international people join the Teach For Slovakia start-up team.
     
  • I will promote government funds that have been committed as a 1:1 matching grant to private donors, which will help raise their perception of impact—and make my fundraising efforts more effective.
     
  • I will recruit for and promote Teach For Slovakia at international schools, where currently over 1000 top Slovak students study (most of them in London, Ireland, and Germany).
 
And the biggest takeaway and benefit of the Global Conference?  That I WILL START THE PROGRAM!
 
From the discussions with founders, I have gained full confidence that it is possible and perfectly doable, and the issues I have are perfectly manageable. Having heard all the war stories from Estonia, Sweden, Germany, the UK, and China allowed me to understand the landscape and gave me lot of energy and confidence to start.
 
I am grateful to the whole Teach For All team for this magical experienceyou are doing such a useful job at by connecting all of the entrepreneurs together. I appreciate it very much.”
 
 STANISLAV BOLEDOVIC, CEO, TEACH FOR SLOVAKIA