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It’s a moral and economic imperative that every child, everywhere, has a teacher who cultivates the joy of lifelong learning.
Consider the global education system as a garden. Since 2000, the world has made great progress by opening the garden’s gate to increase access to education. And we’re planting better technical seeds – from reading programmes to adaptive learning software – that advance the garden’s growth. But without rich motivational soil to nurture the seeds, the garden simply cannot flourish.
Teachers have fallen out of love with teaching, officials don’t support teachers, and children aren’t engaging in their learning. So STiR Education is focused on making the motivational soil fertile again. It’s our unique contribution to realising the full promise of education and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4.
What we do?
Teacher network meetings:
The core of our approach is local teacher networks – groups of 20 to 30 teachers that meet each month and gain exposure to evidence-based ideas for improving their teaching practice. The networks strengthen connections between peers, laying the foundation for mutual support and sustainable improvement.
But the teachers aren’t told what to do. They decide as a team which action plans to implement, commit their intentions to each other, and practice together in the meetings. They gain autonomy by adapting ideas to their own contexts, mastery through pushing each other to improve, and purpose via regular discussion of the ‘why.’
The meetings are led by school leaders – typically headteachers or local government officials, responsible for supporting a small number of schools – who receive training in termly institutes. These two-day sessions develop their capacity to facilitate effective meetings and provide coaching and developmental feedback.
Training and coaching programme:
STiR works directly with district or regional government officials, who train and support school leaders. Each district is supported by one STiR District Lead, who is responsible for training and coaching 10-20 officials to run each learning improvement cycle.
School leaders attend termly training led by these officials, which cultivate the capacity to facilitate effective meetings, deliver positive coaching and give constructive feedback. They also provide an opportunity for reflection and agreeing on actions – building autonomy, mastery and purpose in leaders too as they improve their own skills and build connections with peers.
Each term, district officials observe school leaders both in the classroom and during network meetings to provide input on the quality of their practice and teacher support. Working through existing system officials and leaders helps STiR achieve significant scale with a small and efficient team.
Government support model:
The STiR team works at district, state and national levels to ensure buy-in from senior officials and alignment with government policy priorities. Every education system is unique. So we seek consensus within each around their specific core values and desired outcomes, then maximise their flexibility in achieving these goals.
Our work in each geography starts by agreeing upon a memorandum of understanding with national or state governments to ensure their ownership of the approach from the start. We then work with governments to select districts, in which every teacher is supported by a network.
Why we do it?
The intrinsic motivation theory.
The concept of intrinsic motivation is not new. Frederick Herzberg coined the term in the 1960s, and his influential work ranks among the most requested content in the Harvard Business Review.
Intrinsic motivation is based on building a sense of autonomy (that you can change something), mastery (that you can improve), and purpose (that you’re connected to something greater than yourself).
Intrinsic motivation in education.
In 2018, 40% of newly qualified teachers in the UK left the profession. In December of the same year, teacher resignations in the United States reached an all-time high.
The statistics paint a bleak picture in developing countries too. One quarter of India’s teachers are absent on any given school day. And in Uganda, the figure rises to 35% – the highest proportion in the world. We know that there are many complex reasons for these statistics, but it’s clear that these systems are not prioritising their teachers.
We want to change the global debate about teachers and place intrinsic motivation at the centre. We want to show that teachers can fall back in love with teaching. That officials can return to trusting and supporting their teachers. And that children can develop a lifelong love of learning.