Training “Oak Learning Differences Fellows” and Building New International Partnerships
Teach For All, the global expansion of the Teach For America concept, is a global network of locally-rooted organizations with a common vision: to develop collective leadership that ensures that all children have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Its grant is infusing a focus on reaching all learners via a Learning Differences Fellowship for teacher coaches and a Learner-Centered Design Team Fellowship for teams from 5 network organizations who are working on innovative projects to “reimagine education.”
“Since my involvement in this fellowship, my coaching has become much more nuanced, specific, and detailed. The language I use while coaching has changed and I often ask my teachers, ‘How are you reaching all students in this lesson?’…Through these conversations, my teachers are able to see how they need to develop in their teaching so that all students are able to learn.”
– Vincent Zabala, Oak Fellow, Teach for Malaysia
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION
Teach For All includes 40 independent, locally-led and governed partner organizations and a global organization that works to accelerate the progress of the network. Each network partner recruits and develops promising future leaders to teach in their nations’ high-need schools and communities and to work with others, inside and outside of education, to ensure all children can fulfill their potential. Teach For All’s global organization works to increase the network’s impact by providing partners with direct support, facilitating connections among them, accessing global resources, and fostering the leadership development of partner staff, participants and alumni.
ABOUT THE OAK FUNDED PROJECT
With Oak’s support, Teach for All launched a Learning Differences Fellowship and is launching a Learner-Centred Design Fellowship. The initial “Oak Fellows” were 12 experienced teachers from around the world who were in the “teacher coach” role and worked with first- and second-year teachers to support them in their efficacy as educators and leadership via a deeper understanding of learning differences. The fellows became embedded experts in learning differences while supporting the development of a global network to share best practices and new information, present at conferences, and catalyze conversations about learning differences.
The organisation is also piloting a Learner-Centered Design TEAM Fellowship, which involves funding teams from 5 partner organizations in Europe who are working on innovative initiatives to put learners at the centre. In addition, it is backing early stage entrepreneurs looking to bring its model to new countries (with a focus on Africa and the Middle East), increasing partner capacity and impact in classroom and communities, and further strengthening and diversifying its global organization.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
What have you accomplished through your Oak-funded programme that you’re most proud to share with your colleagues?
After the first Oak Foundation “Learning Differences Fellowship,” we hosted a conference for educators and Heads of Training from across our global network. Out of 6 topics, ½ of the network partners (local organizations) that joined chose “Reaching All Learners” as their topic of choice! Also, check out this video of a project on metacognition at Empieza por Educar in Spain that was inspired by an Oak Fellow.
What’s the most interesting challenge your Oak-funded programme currently faces?
We learned that having “learning differences” as an initiative (on the side) does not gain as much traction as embedding work around The Science of the Individual, Universal Design for Learning and Metacognition into the fabric of the broader work that we do with network partners and teachers. On the other side of the coin with this, we are currently struggling with recognizing when it is critical to specifically focus on “learning differences” and when to keep the conversation more broad.
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Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, we make grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.
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