There’s a lot of pressure put on today’s educators. From chronic under-funding and staffing, to the teacher’s role turning into one of a social worker, to the world outside changing too fast for education to keep up; it’s no wonder that many countries are finding it hard to recruit and retain their teaching staff, let alone help them to fully embrace their role in a contemporary way. It is predicted that if teacher shortages continue at the rate they’ve been developing in recent years the world’s children will not have enough teachers by the year 2030, with UNESCO researchers recognizing that 25.8 million school teachers need to be recruited to ensure every child receives a primary education, or 68.8 million to provide both primary and secondary education.
It’s not a surprise that it can be hard to recruit and retain teachers, we ask a lot from our educators. They’re the ones responsible for helping the next generation to have the skills they need to enter the workforce, have the character skills to thrive in society and have a clear sense of their identity and passions to live a meaningful existence. However, the outside world and our understanding of how we learn has changed a lot over the last few decades, and continues to evolve at an alarming rate. How can we expect our educators to keep up with these changes, to become inspirational role models and to stick it out in teaching for the long-term, if we don’t invest in them to make this possible?
On-going teacher-training and support is one way organizations around the world are helping educators to feel supported and at the top of their game so that they can go on to fully support their students in the classroom. One of these organizations is Accelerated Learning, based in Ethiopia. Focusing on the East African context, Accelerated Learning’s flagship teacher coaching programme ‘Teacher Foundry’ helps East African teachers to deliver education at a much higher level than previously possible.
Accelerated was selected for HundrED 2019, and it’s particularly impressive and inspiring that one of the world’s most innovative solutions to continued teacher-training comes from the region that is facing the biggest challenges in education. Ethiopia, despite being the second most populous country in Africa with a population of over 100 million and making great strides within education, still falls at the bottom of most global education rankings. Considering the size of Ethiopia’s population, this is a huge hit to our global responsibility to make sure that every child receives a high-quality education, but it also means that Accelerated’s programme can have a huge impact.
Accelerated blends behavioural sciences, technology and classroom data to create a contemporary teacher-coaching platform that aims to truly help East African teachers to develop their skills. ‘Our unique formula allows us to bring high-quality coaching, proven instructional strategies and a method to ensure strategies get implemented – all in a way that meets the needs of every teacher in the K-12 spectrum,’ explains Ravi Shankar, Founder and CEO at Accelerated. ‘During the course of this year, we provide teachers with high-quality trainings and workshops focused on pedagogy and instructional support, regular classroom visits, and personalized feedback and mentoring to ensure teachers are confident in implementing their new skills in the classroom.’
Reaching one thousand teachers in Ethiopia, Accelerated has impacted over 23 thousand students already. ‘Personalization happens at the teacher level,’ explains Shankar. ‘We understand that a one-size fits all approach seldom works well in education or in skill-development.’
Personalization isn’t just powerful for students, it can really help teachers to feel supported and inspired in their jobs. Accelerated recognizes the power personalization can have for both teachers and students alike, and utilizes it to keep educators engaged in their work thus helping to retain them in the world of education. ‘Our coaching model provides teachers not only with essential classroom skills, but also helps them with their motivation and job satisfaction,’ explains Shankar.
Though their work is focused on supporting and invigorating teachers, it all comes back round to helping the students. Accelerated’s work recognizes that to reach students and to make sure they have the skills they need to succeed, we first have to make sure our teachers have the skills and training they need to succeed too. ‘All of our work with teachers is intended to boost critical thinking skills for the students in the classroom,’ adds Shankar.
Though Accelerated is primarily focused on helping teachers in East Africa, education bodies around the world should take note of their holistic, supportive approach. It seems completely outdated in today’s society to train teachers at the beginning of their journey and then to leave them in the classroom without any support of their own. In a world where the issues, job markets and technologies are constantly changing, teachers need support and continued training so that they feel inspired, motivated and encouraged to upskill and update their practices as needed. We cannot expect our students to excel if we do not help our teachers to do the same. Only through continually trained, holistically supported and energized teachers will we make sure that the next generation are fully prepared for their futures, because to get inspired students, we need to inspire our teachers.
To know more about Accelerated, check out their innovation page.