At the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in November, more than 1,500 experts and thought leaders from around the world gathered in Doha, Qatar to share solutions to the most pressing challenges facing education. The summit's theme—Imagine-Create-Learn: Creativity at the Heart of Education—highlighted how in our interconnected world, we can accelerate progress by learning from each other’s experiences and creative solutions. As a featured speaker at the event, Teach For All's CEO Wendy Kopp shared examples of newtork program alumni who are spearheading initiatives to expand opportunity for children in their countries and around the world. "We can cultivate a worldwide leadership force of pioneers who will work at every level of the education system and across sectors," Kopp explained of Teach For All's global approach. "People who are deeply rooted in an understanding of the local context, in the possibility of success, and in the nature of the solutions, and who are learning from innovations from across the world."
Also in attendance at WISE were participant and alumni leaders from Teach For India and Teach For Malaysia who were invited to lead interactive sessions for 100 Qatari teachers at a Teach For Qatar-hosted workshop on new approaches to teaching and learning. Topics included using technology in the classroom, increasing student learning and motivation through peer tutoring, teacher development through collaboration and technology, and using activity-based learning to engage students. Though they were designed as professional development opportunities for the participating teachers, the workshops proved to be a learning experience for all involved.
"When I was asked to share my experiences with teachers from government schools in Qatar, I honestly did not understand what could I offer to them—their context seemed so vastly different from that of the teachers I work with in India," explained Teach For India alumna Archana Iyer, who has recenly developed and launched Teach For India's online teacher training portal, Firki, which is accessible (and free) to all teachers in India. "My perspective changed dramatically as traditionally trained teachers, Teach For Qatar Fellows, and members of Qatar's Education Council shared the challenges around motivating students. They asked difficult yet important questions, such as how tp instill in students the desire to learn and how can teachers partner with parents to create an environment which encourages the character traits of grit, curiosity, and optimism. By the end of session, I realised that though our contexts differ, the core of the challenge in both India and Qatar was the same—building student leadership and vision."
Teach For Malaysia Fellow Alina Amir, who led a session on the peer tutoring initiative she developed for her students, was also struck by how similar the challenges to teachers can be in such different contexts. "I don’t think the concept of education as a 'global issue' has ever rung more true for me," she shared. "We were working with teachers in a completey different country, and yet there was so much we could relate to."