Designing and Implementing a Strategic Plan to Reach Diverse Learners
Teach For America enlists and trains corps members to effectively teach in low-income classrooms for at least two years, and then supports alumni to effect change within and beyond the education sector. Its grant is supporting the development of a detailed blueprint for cultivating a leadership corps that understands and responds to the needs of diverse learners.
“As a special education teacher + disability advocate, I was inspired to learn more about what Teach For America is doing to address this critical and vulnerable population in our schools, as well as how I can play a larger role for ‘all’ in the future!”
– Teach for America 25th Anniversary Summit participant
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION
Teach For America enlists, develops, and mobilizes our country’s most promising leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence. Today, the organization is the largest and most diverse teacher pipeline for low-income communities, with over 8,000 corps members teaching across 53 urban and rural regions. In addition to developing corps members into effective teachers, Teach For America also cultivates their leadership, so corps members are equipped to effect change within and beyond their classroom. Teach For America’s alumni base exceeds 50,000 leaders, with alumni working from multiple angles in and outside the education sector to create more equitable and inclusive opportunities for all children.
ABOUT THE OAK FUNDED PROJECT
With Oak Foundation’s support, Teach For America is integrating a focus on learner variability into its teacher leadership development program so all corps members and alumni are equipped to support, advocate for, and empower diverse learners. The most recent grant supported a robust internal landscape analysis, stakeholder engagement, and surveys to determine Teach For America’s unique value-add within the diverse learner space and to sketch out a three-year strategic plan. Teach For America also raised awareness about learner variability in the organization and community through dedicated outreach and events, including a moderated session which reached over 850 participants at the organization’s 25th Anniversary Summit.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
What have you accomplished through your Oak-funded programme that you’re most proud to share with your colleagues?
In February 2016, Teach For America hosted its 25th Anniversary Summit and convened over 15,000 corps members, alumni, staff, and community partners. At the Summit, we facilitated a dedicated leadership development track and session around learner variability. Over 800 people attended the Saturday session, “Reimagining Education: Teaching to the Edges to Reach All Learners,” making it one of the best attended sessions at the Summit and illustrating the excitement in the Teach For America community around improving our education system to better support diverse learners.
What’s the most interesting challenge your Oak-funded programme currently faces?
Learner variability work cannot live in a separate organizational silo, but needs to be actively integrated into the fabric of Teach For America’s leadership development program. Teachers need to understand how to implement best practices in learner variability alongside rigorous content instruction, culturally responsive pedagogy, and positive classroom management, and as leaders, they need to recognize how able-ism intersects with other aspects of systemic and educational inequity in order to effect meaningful change.
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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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