Building Bridges to a Quality Education for All
By Diana Richie, Strategic Partnerships Director, New Teacher Center
Imagine Laredo, Texas and what comes to mind? A dusty town on the border? Fences and federal agents? Or a vibrant community serving as a bridge to our Mexican neighbors with the potential to bring prosperity to all?
For some, a border represents a barrier through which people and ideas cannot pass. For the International Council on Education for Teaching (ICET), Laredo was a bridge connecting nations, culture, and ideas. On July 9-11, this town served as host to educators, administrators, university researchers, government officials, and business leaders from 15 countries who gathered to celebrate the ICET World Assembly 2018.
Hosted by Dr. James o’Meara, President of ICET and Dean of the Texas A&M International University College of Education, global education leaders shared research, best practices, and evidence-based solutions to give all students, everywhere access to high-quality education delivered by qualified, recognized, motivated, and committed educators.
Recruiting and retaining teachers is a significant problem for school districts across the United States and was acknowledged as a global challenge, especially in high-poverty regions. Organization from across the world shared how they are transforming the lives of children and positively impacting communities through innovations in teacher education, including:
- Mentoring: Nations and school systems that require at least one year of formal mentorship of new teachers recognize higher rates of teacher retention than those that do not.
- Growth mindset: While school leaders are key to school reform, soliciting teacher input and engaging teachers as instructional leaders is critical to improving teacher practices and student learning.
- Teacher leaders: While school leaders are key to school reform, soliciting teacher input and engaging teachers as instructional leaders is critical to the successful adoption of new policies and instructional strategies.
It was reassuring to see the key components of NTC’s work – a supportive environment for teaching and learning, engaged stakeholders, strong school leaders, a systemic approach to teacher development, and carefully selected and trained mentors and coaches – reinforced as the ingredients for a successful teacher development system. While every ICET member represented at the conference offered innovative and promising best practices, the TAMIU College of Education Change Maker recognized a few leaders, including:
- The country of Ghana for the reinvention of its Pre-K-12 educational system, which includes a standardized, country-wide curriculum informed by global best practices;
- The Forum for African Women Educationalists for their successful efforts to promote and secure more equitable learning opportunities for girls across the continent;
- The KP Elementary and Secondary Education Department in Peshawar, Pakistan for the construction of universities and schools dedicated to the equitable education of girls and women in response to the shooting of Malala Yousafzai for the crime of attending school;
- Caterpillar Industries in Mexico for their innovative program to provide employees with lifelong learning opportunities;
- Sheffield Hallam University and the Institute of Education for their contribution to higher education pre-service and teacher support programs; and
- New Teacher Center for its commitment to improving student learning by accelerating the effectiveness of teachers and leaders as evidenced by our 20 years of research and recent federal i3 Validation study.
As my new friends in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico might say, “Al mal paso, darle prisa.” Loosely translated, this means, “During bad times, find a solution. Face your challenges and good times will soon come.” For aThis is good advice, as all children deserve a quality education and a bright future. We must build bridges to find solutions to ensure all students receive a quality education and we must do so quickly because our future won’t wait.