Network Learning Differences Fellowship Launches

This month saw the launch of the Teach For All-Oak Foundation Learning Differences Fellowship, an intitiative designed to ensure that all educators across the network have the knowledge, skills, and mindsets to hold all students to high expectations and support them in reaching their full potential. In order to accomplish this goal, the Fellowship will engage 15 teacher coaches from the network and help them gain a deeper understanding of learning differences, as well as the tools to coach and support teachers who address learning differences in their classrooms. 

In the September 10th issue of Education Week Magazine, Christina A. Samuels reported on Teach For All's Learning Differences Fellowship. The following is an excerpt:

The 15 fellows, including three Americans, kicked off the fellowship the first week of September with a weeklong trip to Nepal, where they visited schools in rural villages around the capital, Kathmandu. During most of the remaining two years, the fellows will interact with each other virtually, and plan to come together for an additional in-person trip. The fellowship will be spent learning about different student learning styles, appropriate teacher training, and the impact that teachers can have on students.

The fellows will also be expected to produce their own resources and develop case studies that can be shared with the participants and, eventually, with teacher-coaches across the Teach For All Network. In addition to the United States, fellows were selected from Argentina, Australia, China, Ecuador, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Spain, and Qatar.

UNESCO estimates that 90 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school. That's despite the fact that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by 148 countries (but not the United States), specifies that people with disabilities should not be excluded from free and compulsory primary education, or from secondary education, on the basis of that disability.

The fellows come to the program with ambitious plans.

Gustavo Rojas Ayala, 29, a coach for the one-year-old Enseña por Mexico program, said that he struggled with reading and writing as a young child, and was grateful to a teacher who spent extra time with him. That personal experience, plus two years spent teaching at a secondary school for girls in rural Chile, was part of his motivation for applying for the fellowship.

The school where he taught had no entrance exam, Mr. Rojas said, so he learned "it's really important to integrate kids. We understood clearly that we had to work with every single student." But there were students who struggled to learn to read and write and had made it all the way to their teens without gaining those skills. Adding to his challenge as ateacher were classes that sometimes had 50 pupils.

Mr. Rojas, a native of Chile, said he dreams of creating a school that supports inclusive education. "I'm really excited about the opportunity to learn globally," he said.

Read the full article on EducationWeek.org.