“Learning differences are something that we all have,” explains Rachel Brody, Teach For All’s Director of Student Learning, and formerly the Senior Managing Director of Teach For America’s Diverse Learner Initiative. “Our brains all operate in their own way.”
Historically, the fact that not all students learn in a uniform way has meant that in classrooms around the world there are students whose learning needs have not been met, and who have fallen behind their peers.
To address the challenge of ensuring every child is supported in reaching his or her full potential, in the fall of 2014 15 teacher coaches from 13 network partners came together to form the Teach For All Learning Differences Fellowship. The two-year initiative was designed to “seed leadership and expertise around learning differences” across the network, by providing a space for its Fellows to gain a deeper understanding of the diverse ways in which students learn, as well as the tools to coach and support teachers who address learning differences in their classrooms.
From 2014 to 2016, the Fellows held monthly calls during which they shared case studies and designed trainings for teachers and staff members, and participated in two in-person learning trips. “The group helps me to understand how to apply what I learned,” shares Natalia Llorente of Empieza por Educar (Spain). “And how to transmit the knowledge to my fellows, to the coaches and to the program.”
Midway through the fellowship, the Fellows gathered in Manila, Philippines where they held a workshop on reaching diverse learners for hundreds of local teachers, spreading their learnings beyond the Teach For All network to classrooms across Manila. The event was a powerful experience for Teach for the Philippines’ Mikko Ramos, who was committed to sharing the work of the fellowship with as many educators as possible.
“Learning differences is not exclusive to one part of the world,” he explains. “It’s something we can all share, it’s something we can all fight for”