Thirteen teacher coaches, teachers, and staff members from as many Teach For All partner organizations gathered in Manila earlier this month for the second Teach For All Learning Differences Fellowship learning trip. Hosted by Teach for the Philippines, the fellows reunited after 12 months of exploring their own and others’ teaching practices and deepening their understanding of how to successfully teach diverse learners.
The fellowship is grounded in the belief that just as every person’s fingerprints are unique, every student has his or her own way of learning. Collectively, the fellows envision a day when every classroom is designed to reach all students, and all learners are empowered to advocate for their own learning.
With a focus on investing in and equipping educators outside of the fellowship to address learning differences in the classroom, the fellows spent their time together in Manila drawing on what they’d learned over the course of the fellowship to design their visions for success, draft a statement of impact, and develop projects that they will embark on over the next six months.
“If you Google “learning differences” not much will appear,” explained Pia Matta, Director of Global Resources for Teach For All, and the manager of the Learning Differences Fellowship. “There is a small, but strong, movement building around honoring students’ learning differences, and initiatives like this cross-network fellowship are developing strategies for equipping other educators to successfully reach learners of all kinds.”
In an effort to deeply explore each other’s insights and best practices and to “push each other without fear,” the Teach For All staff and the fellows worked together to create a collaborative environment that was both safe and “brave.” These unique conditions enabled the group to overcome social and cultural barriers in order to provide authentic, constructive feedback that was driven by a full commitment to the fellowship’s vision and the work the fellows were engaging in together.
“Over the first 18 months of the fellowship, we put a lot of energy into creating a sense of community and a culture of collaboration, where the fellows would feel compelled to learn together remotely when they were spread across the world in 13 different countries,” said Matta. “We succeeded, and at this second in-person meeting you could feel the bonds between all of the fellows. But we all realized that if we truly want to achieve our vision we would have to move from the safe place we were in into a ‘brave space.’ In Manila we were able to push each other further because we knew that the feedback we were receiving was coming from our dedication to the the common vision we all share: to reach every single learner in the classroom.”
The highlight of the week was the learning trip’s culminating event, during which the 13 fellows led sessions at the monthly Teach for the Philippines Super Saturday training. More than 160 teachers--both Teach for the Philippines participants and their placement school colleagues--attended the training to learn how to better support students with learning differences in the classroom.
Congratulations to the Teach For All Learning Differences Fellows for their continued commitment to ensuring an excellent education for every student. The fellowship’s embodiment of the power of sharing solutions and vision for equipping educators within and beyond the network to reach all learners is inspiring!
Learn more about the Teach For All Learning Differences Fellowship.
The Teach For All Learning Differences Fellowship is sponsored by the Oak Foundation