More than 70 participants, alumni, and staff of Teach For All network partners gathered in Riyadh in late August alongside more than 700 teachers from across Saudi Arabia for the first International Teachers Forum. The conference, which was organized by the Saudi Ministry of Education with support from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), was part of the Saudi government's Vision 2030 reforms focusing on strengthening its public education system through international engagement. Teach For All helped coordinate international teachers’ attendance by making the opportunity to speak on panels and lead breakout sessions available to current and former teaching participants from across the network.
Each morning of the three-day conference began with a keynote speaker, including OECD Director for Education and Skills Andreas Schleicher, who also serves on the Teach For All Board of Directors; former New Zealand Minister of Education Patricia Hekia Parata; and The Baroness Susan Greenfield, a British scientist and member of the House of Lords.
After each keynote address, conference participants attended panel discussions that touched on topics including STEAM, parent engagement, early learning, and reaching all learners. Panelists included teachers from Saudi Arabia, current and former Teach For All network teachers, and representatives of the OECD. The conference offered opportunity not just to learn from global experts, but also to gain insights from the local expertise of teachers in Saudi classrooms. Each panel was followed by small-group breakout sessions, which were facilitated by teachers, alumni, and staff of 26 Teach For All network partners participating in the conference.
For the facilitators, leading the sessions involved equal amounts of teaching and learning and demonstrated the value of exchanging knowledge and ideas across borders. The Teach For All network attendees and the Saudi teachers, many of who had extensive classroom experience, discussed the insights they’d drawn from the panels and shared rich and diverse perspectives with each other.
“Often enough as a teacher you begin to think that the difficulties you face are ones you face in your country alone,” said Alamia Annous, a Teach For Lebanon alumna who teaches English to grades 6 and 8. “[Participating] in the conference, I was once again immersed in the reality that we are all moving towards one goal and that is quality education for all, while facing similar challenges with the same spirit.”
Learn more about classroom leadership across the Teach For All network.