Why do we need an
integrated training program

for teachers who choose to
teach in underprivileged schools?

After 8 years of serving vulnerable communities in over 25 counties, Teach for Romania has identified a number of challenges that make the job of teachers in rural and peripheral areas much harder:

  • The learning gap – children with a 1-to-2-year learning loss, children with poor vocabulary skills, who have never seen a book or held a pencil in their hand or who have never been read to;
  • a large number of children with special learning needs are not diagnosed and adequately supported because neither parents, teachers nor other school staff can or know how to do so.
  • children who have not been exposed to different learning opportunities, contexts and resources other than those within the family and community.

Beyond the challenges of supporting the learner to achieve the required academic performance to continue their education and to gain a qualification, the teacher serving vulnerable communities also manages issues around the child’s basic access to school, from lacking shoes and food to no school supplies.

The data confirms the day-to-day
reality in the communities we serve:

In 2019, Romania ranks 1st in the European Union regarding the risk of poverty and social exclusion among children, comprising around 35% of the population under 16.

Source: Eurostat

What are the key features
of our training program?

For the majority of these children, whose access to relevant education is severely limited by poverty, illness and dropout, the only chance for a better future is a teacher who goes above and beyond than what we have been used to seeing so far in the public system.

They need teachers who make them feel seen, who offer unconditional acceptance and support, who see their potential, harnessing their extraordinary abilities in spite of their challenging background. All children need the teacher who strives to build a strong “village” around them, an entire community of change makers focused on growing healthy, confident, empowered children: parents, school teachers, specialists, local authorities, NGO supporters and corporate partners.

To succeed in making a difference, such people need special training and a community ready to support them to become transformational teaching leaders, acting as agents of change in the child’s ecosystem.

We start with our Summer Leadership Academy, a complex accelerated learning program, where, for 6 weeks, participants embrace the “Lasting-change starts from within” mindset, understanding that the impact of their hard work will be noticeable in their classrooms and their students’ communities.

They will attend teaching workshops and work on team assignments, conceptual blending, modelling and simulation, to then apply it all in their teaching practice working with students in an underprivileged school, training their capacity to learn how to learn and to transfer their skills into the real world.

Ongoing training, constant support
and mentoring for 2 years.

It is almost impossible for children in vulnerable communities to have a fair chance to succeed in life if they don’t know how to write or read or fully understand the information they are exposed to, if they can’t do basic math or manage a simple personal budget. Our world is hard to explore for children with little confidence, self-belief or determination and willpower, for children who haven’t discovered the power of community, the power of showing up. With all that in mind, we offer our fellows a complex 2-year program on how to make change happen and how to become the teacher leaders their students need.

Our training program, supported by
mentoring and coaching, helps teachers develop:

Strategic thinking and personal leadership

key factors in managing their own journey and the particularities of each community: specific learning needs, each culture’s uniqueness and relational context (school, parents, authorities, partners).

Ability to use integrated approaches to supporting child development

paying attention to both cognitive dimensions (teaching them how to learn, critical thinking, literacy, numeracy) as well as social-emotional and behavioral skills (self-determination, ability to self-regulate and to cooperate, initiative and belief in both individual and group achievements)

Growth mindset and mastery to create a culture of achievement in the classroom

 so that students act as a community where everyone feels safe and encouraged to use failure as a space for learning and self-improvement

The confidence and grit to build a community around the student

partnering with the rest of the school staff, family, relevant authorities, donors and funders

The Leadership Academy opens the learning process which then continues during the 2-year fellowship and it is built based on three dimensions: self-awareness and personal development (leading self), strategic approach to learning (leading learning) and community building (leading change).

The workshops also offer the participants standardized screening tools to be able to adjust and consolidate students’ learning (assessing literacy and social-emotional skills) and best practice models for managing systemic inequalities (literacy interventions for struggling readers, inclusion strategies for children with learning difficulties or who are victims of abuse, practical life skills programs and enhancing civic engagement through student leadership, effective fundraising strategies, etc.).

We offer individual support and differentiated instruction according to each teacher’s learning needs and the needs of the community they serve.

We built an entire village
around our fellows:

Teach for Romania fellows feel like they have succeeded when they see the foundation their students need to build a better future, i.e

Building, rebuilding and securing the foundation for a safer, brighter future for the children in vulnerable communities is challenging, often far from glamourous and it takes a lot of courage, determination and the right mindset to commit to it, to change. Our future is being built right at this moment, here and now, in our classrooms, by great teachers choosing to raise great future leaders.