In March, 23 alumni of 10 Teach For All partner organizations gathered in Pune, India, to reflect on the current state of teaching and teacher development in their contexts and explore ideas and pathways to improvement. The event, which focused on building relationships between alumni who are currently developing or supporting teachers, officially launched one of Teach For All’s first Communities of Practice (the others will explore school leadership and education policy). The aim for each Community of Practice is to provide a platform for alumni from across the network with similar career pathways to further their work through sharing and discussing each other’s successes and challenges and building their knowledge of research-based theories of teacher development.
While in Pune, Community members identified a priority action plan that they will pursue for the next 18 months with the goal of accelerating the impact of their teacher development programs. Throughout this time, as they develop and realize their plans, the alumni will continue to support and challenge each other through monthly engagement with small learning circles, quarterly virtual learning experiences, and a final in-person gathering in 2017. Below, members of the Teacher Development Community of Practice share their takeaways from the launch:
A lot of us are working toward solving similar problems, with similar underlying factors—systemic and mindset constraints—affecting teaching-learning processes in our work. In our approach towards teacher development we need to figure out ways to change mindsets and attitudes in order to effect successful change in outcomes. This seemed to be a pressing widespread problem and therefore we need to collaborate to find a solution. Our experience as Teach For All participants helped bring different perspectives to the table. I am looking forward to our virtual learning circles as a platform for active engagement with other members and their work.
I have carried out psychological trainings for different Estonian organizations for the last 12 years, including teacher training. However, these training sessions never last more than 2 to 3 days and haven’t had a strong enough impact. Now, thanks to the Community of Practice, I know what I should do—I have to set-up a longer program for teachers which includes feedback and coaching. I got so many brilliant ideas from the other network members and I feel excited about the prospects of achieving change in Estonia. I left feeling a great deal of commitment and faith in myself—with this community, everything is possible and we can effect change in education across the board.
Hugh Wong, Head of National Teacher Training and Development at Teach For China and an alumnus of the program
The learning trip extended my knowledge of concrete effective practices, especially in the context of under-privileged communities. It also made me reflect more on the students, who are ultimately the reason why we are in the business of education. I was impacted and impressed by the shared spirit and culture of humanity, learning, empowering excellence, and transparency, which is a very strong soft power in engaging stakeholders in our shared mission and work. One of my key takeaways was the development of a more tangible local teacher training vision and strategy, by putting in more thought, and actionable and sustainable approaches, to increase local teachers’ ownership and school leadership engagement.
Harry Fletcher-Wood, Associate Director for Knowledge Development, Teach First
It was very helpful to understand the choices made by different partners around the network, both as a source of inspiration for our own program and as a way to hold up a mirror to what we are doing in the UK and consider how we might do it better. It's great to work with people with whom you have a shared experience. My first step will be to share what we discussed and the challenges I enjoyed at the conference with colleagues at Teach First, as a basis for agreeing how we can move forward.
In an attempt to share their learning and projects more broadly, community members will also host quarterly calls externally and open to anyone interested in learning more about the topic of teacher development. Please email Kyle Conley if you would like more details about those calls in order to join.
Teach For All’s School Leadership Community of Practice will launch later this year with an in-person event likely to take place in Denver, Colorado that will focus on building a strong community, setting aims, and building the skills of school leaders.
Learn more about inspiring alumni leaders from across the Teach For All network.