Building communities to deliver differentiated learning to students with special needs

November 22, 2018

Al Amal School for the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired in Al-Sayeda Nafisa was founded in 2000, and joined the Teachers First programme in February 2017.  The primary school based in Cairo wanted to provide differentiated learning to suit the individual needs of their students.   The challenge In recent years, increasing attention has been given to caring for students with special educational needs, providing them with an education that enables them to develop their capabilities, become active members of the community, and raise their self-esteem. However, teachers have found it difficult to cater for the diverse and specific needs of each individual student. Clearly, a ‘one size fits all’ approach would be neither effective nor appropriate based on individual needs. To meet the needs of the student teachers needed to be able to use more communication-based strategies and activities and change their practice and develop a more stimulating environment. The solution/actions The school joined the Teachers First programme to provide the impetus for developing new approaches to diversify students’ learning. They started with just three teachers but grew this Community of Practice (CoP) to eighteen.  Initiatives included - the Principal reducing administrative burdens to enable the CoP to meet once per week the CoP worked on highlighting and clarifying the benefits that would arise, which encouraged more reticent teachers to join motivating teachers and students by honouring them or presenting their work supporting and assisting those teachers with poor IT skills, helping them to register on the website and participate in the courses. using Lengo to record and credit their behavioural change, which was motivational and drove the collaboration and growth of the CoP.   Teachers immediately began to apply strategies and specifically sought to develop approaches that would enable them to differentiate their teaching. For example, they focussed on how to account for different learning styles, and began to develop personal learning plans (PLPs) for students, which enabled them to tailor learning and build upon students’ specific capabilities and prior knowledge. "Teachers First was a turning point for us. It introduced new ideas and strategies that helped us change our behaviour within the classroom. This was reflected by the level of students’ work. Increased interaction and communication between teachers and deaf and hearing-impaired students resulted in increased achievement.” Sayeda Karam Saleh, Social Studies teacher   They used a range of resources and Teachers First strategies to enliven and diversify learning, make it more interactive and student centred, including: ‘Curriculum Theatre’, ‘Hot Seat’, ‘Value Line’, ‘Agree/Disagree’, ‘Circle in a Circle’, ‘A Question Inside a Balloon’, ‘Four Corners’, ‘Spider Web’, ‘Traffic Light’, and ‘Thumb Signs’, to name but a few. Teachers began to reconsider the learning environment, and where learning takes place, utilising spaces such as the school yard for delivering active learning experiences. They also took significant steps to celebrate and display students’ work around the school, which had a positive effect on the school environment. They also took advantage of the Teachers First website, learning from, uploading and sharing resources with other CoPs online. The outcome There has been a significant increase in enthusiasm amongst teachers, with a number receiving certificates of achievement. The training has supported the development of more reflective teaching staff capable of critically reviewing the effectiveness of their teaching and its impact on learners’ progress, attainment and well-being. Teachers are happier and more positive about their professional practice, and have also benefitted from knowledge sharing experiences with other schools. The increased ability to differentiate learning for individual students and create PLPs has been invaluable in developing more suitable, engaging and interactive learning and teaching experiences. Perhaps more importantly, they have witnessed a change in students' behaviour, with an increase in their motivation to learn and participate in the learning process. Moreover, they have begun to see increased levels of achievement and notable improvements in regular pupil attendance. Teachers feel that this not only improves their education, but in turn, helps them to feel equal with their non-disabled peers, as well as assisting them with societal integration and greater chances of employment in the future. Parents have also noticed the effect on students, stating their children are both happier and excited to discuss the activities and their experiences.   Links and Resources The development of the approach and strategies used in the classroom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-VVUfspbXY Children learning about the solar system https://youtu.be/Njgdhbn3a0U Students learning through play https://youtu.be/B00OBrKRWFM   Follow Teachers First, the behavioural development program, on Facebook here: http://bit.ly/2x6Nrds

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Lengo® hits 1,000,000 points

September 19, 2018

Teachers First is proud to announce that its behavioural platform Lengo® officially passed 1,000,000 credit points awarded to Egyptian teachers. The millionth credit point went to Ms. Rada Mohamed Abd El-Azeem of Bani-Mazar Public High School, Al-Minya. Today we continue the achievements and successes of teachers in the program and specifically in using Lengo®. We would like to congratulate Ms. Abd el-Azeem, from Bani Mazar public high school, on the one millionth credit point. Lengo® is one of the main pillars that supports Teachers First and all professional development journeys of teachers, inside and outside the classrooms. This behavioural platform captures learning when and where it happens by allowing teachers to award themselves and their peers credits when they achieve a desired behaviour at school. It also allows teachers to take ownership of their journeys, and accurately assess, increase and celebrate their development. Lengo® also strengthens the ties between members of the immediate and extended communities of practice, allowing them the opportunity to exchange ideas, experiences and of course, credit points. Bani-Mazar Public Highschool joined Teachers First in February 2018 as one of the first schools in the modereya of Al Minya to begin their professional development journey with the program. Ms. Rada is part of the school’s extended community of practice, which continued to grow and improve. They set an example in their surrounding community by reopening the school’s development center room and holding workshops for all school staff. The school also pays visits to neighbouring schools, training them and establishing a strong teaching and learning network.

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The Greater Cairo Pilot Moves Forward

September 3, 2018

Teachers First puts teachers at the heart of behavioral change, but without the support of school leaders, supervisors and the wider education community this change would not be as impactful or sustainable.   Idara officials are a vital part of the journey towards education reform.  The Greater Cairo Pilot was set up to create a regional community of practice for leaders from 24 idaras across the modereyas of Cairo, Giza, Qalyoubeya and Sharkia. The aim was to see how Idaras, Modereyas and Teachers First could work together most effectively, to ensure the program has the maximum impact in schools. “Teachers First has no limitation, it is for everyone. It is not for certain subject or department, it is like a homeland that gathers us all” comments a member. Leaders supported Teachers First in their Idaras, as well as schools that have gone through official training and workshops. They expanded on their current duties of holding meetings, workshops and discussions with other leaders, visiting schools and supporting principals, and most importantly as supporting teachers on their continuous professional development journeys. The pilot has now moved to a new stage of management after being completely run and monitored by Teachers First. Following 16 months of training and preparations, and as a result of the great faith that Teachers First has in educational leaders, the pilot’s team will now run it themselves. This will enable and empower them to assume further responsibility in supporting ambassadors of change within their various communities of practice, a core philosophy that Teachers First is built upon. “Their collective ideas and unified vision will provide a strong support network for all members of the education profession and will lead future change in education” agree Sayeda Mubarak and Riham Eldegwi, members of the Teachers First team.

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Bringing the Associates Program to all Egyptian teachers

June 11, 2018

Teachers First is working towards delivering workshops to every Egyptian governorate with the goal of training all Egyptian teachers. The first step for teachers now is to complete The Associates Program, on online introductory program that helps teachers understand core principals and that sets them off on a journey towards sustainable professional development. course. It combines theoretical and practical elements that reflect the content of the Teachers First’s workshops in a simple, easy to understand manner. The behavioral change framework is comprised of 47 behaviours, and each comes with explanatory text and videos. At the end of the material there is a comprehensive assessment tool. This tool produces an action plan that teachers can immediately begin using in their classroom. Teachers have been quick to embrace The Associates Program with many teachers signing up the day the program went live.  One of the biggest benefits to participating in the program is access to the forums.   The forums are a discussion area moderated by a team of experienced teachers who can help guide participants and share their knowledge. “I am truly happy that I am learning new things from everyone on here. The Associates Program and the forum discussions have affected me greatly. I was urged to begin planning and reflecting on topics that will help my learners, ones that can be associated with the curriculum. This will help us build characters that are able to head straight into the job market and immediately succeed socially” said Ms. Salwa Kassem from Sohag. Teachers First wants more teachers to benefit from this unique opportunity so if you haven’t signed up, do it today and start your journey towards sustainable professional development.

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The Teachers First Associates Program is now available for all Egyptian teachers!

May 14, 2018

Start your learning journey by registering through the following link http://www.tftoolkit.com/   In case any inquiries come up concerning finishing registration, please contact our technical support through the below numbers 01150696606 01284117604 01000475475

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Reaching out to future partners

April 17, 2018

Teachers First is on a continuous journey to expand till we reach all 27 modereyas. Till this happens, the program is carrying out several initiatives that aim to bring it closer with teachers who have not participated yet. In light of this, we have held several "reach out" events in the modereyas that held the highest numbers of applications (less than those who were accepted). We have visited Qena, Sohag, the Red Sea and Ismailia, with the latter being extra special as it brought together other modereyas which are Port Said, Suez and South Sinai (North Sinai was keen on attending but could not due to logistical reasons). We were joined by the highest officials of the modereyas in every governorate as well as Dr. Ahmed Hashish, Head of the Central Department for Educational Leaders Development. In Ismailia specifically, we were joined by Governor Yaseen Taher himself, along with other modereya of Ismailia officials and esteemed high officials of the other attending modereyas. Details on the program were shared with the attendees, who were comprised of officials and teachers. Questions were answered and expectations were shared. With Teachers First on its path to develop professional behaviours inside classrooms and schools, Egypt guarantees founding a unqiue and innovative learning society that is able to make a difference.

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Workshop two, the journey continues

April 10, 2018

After a month of applying their new learnings, participating teachers returned for more knowledge and experience in workshop two of Teachers First. This workshop is very important as it allows teachers to reflect on their journey so far, as well as learn more of the behavioural framework that the program relies on. The three main themes of the framework – Learning, Teaching and Assessment, were shared in workshop two. Teachers learned the behaviours that belong to each theme, along with descriptors that make understanding and applying these behaviours easier. They then came up with activity plans to apply them in the classroom and the school. Another crucial point of focus in this workshop is encouraging communities of practice to continue expanding. A wider community that includes teachers from all subjects and backgrounds allows a diverse flow of ideas and experiences that enriches the journey. In addition to continuously reflecting on the results of their new learnings, approaches and applications, teachers are also encouraged to keep on sharing their experiences with their peers. This way, they both provide and receive the necessary support that sustains the professional development journey. “I think starting with Lengo and building the community of practice really helped us prepare ourselves for the second workshop. I consider everything I have learned to be foundation stones, ones that make creative and informative teaching possible – I am very excited about the results this will yield”, said Mr. Atef Mohamed, an Arabic teacher from the modereya of Sharkia.

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30,000 teachers are now part of the teachers first journey

April 5, 2018

30,000 teachers are now part of the teachers first journey Teachers First passed a new milestone with Ms. Rehab Hassan, the 30,000 member of the highly innovative program.   Ms. Hassan comes from Al Minya governorate, one of the newest modereyas to join Teachers First. She is a member of the extended community of practice of Guweid School for Basic Education in the Idara of Abu Qurqas.   In a celebration held at the school and attended by high-ranking representatives from the modereya of Al Minya and the idara of Abu Qurqas, as well as Dr. Ahmed Hashish, Head of the Central Department for Educational Leaders Development, Ms. Hassan was presented with a certificate of appreciation and thanks for joining the program. She now begins her journey as an ambassador of change within and beyond her community of practice.   “Teachers First would not have reached this milestone without the trust and hard work of Egyptian teachers. Your efforts are what feeds the continuous development of Egyptian education and are going to rise up with the Egyptian learning society,” said Dr. Hashish.   “I have the most supportive community and headmaster. Doing what we do is only possible by both believing in our message and through the support of those who believe in it as much as we do. I am thankful for all my colleagues, for programs like Teachers First and for all my students who are willing to open up to new ways of learning,” said Ms. Hassan.    

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Workshop one, the start of the journey

March 13, 2018

The journey through Teachers First starts with workshop one.  At this workshop we bring teachers together from across the moderyas to educate them about the fundamentals of the program.  The workshop gives teachers the opportunity to take time away from their schools, learn new ways to manage their classrooms, and gives them the space to think and share. Workshop one is also where communities of practice are formed for the first time. These communities provide a supportive environment where experiences are exchanged and peer-to-peer support is counted on. Mentors also introduce themselves to the teachers as companions during their workshop journey. Through the mentorship program, support is provided as teachers begin using new approaches in the classrooms. Lengo® cards are also presented in workshop one. The behavioural platform is a tool that helps teachers track their professional performance. This is done by awarding themselves and their peers points for achieved behaviours. Lengo® allows them to take ownership of their journeys, and look at their learning as a constantly developing process. “Sharing my experience inside the classroom with my colleagues has become vital to me. I constantly review my work and see myself through their feedback, which allows me to develop. I can see the improvement reflected in how my students react to each lesson, and this makes me continue applying the new methods,” remarked Ms. Mona Mohammed, one of the Cairo workshop attendees, when we followed up with her after the workshop. By embracing the idea of continuous development, teachers become life-long learners. It becomes easier for them to pass the message to their students, creating an ever-evolving Egyptian learning society.

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The Greater Cairo Pilot – Widening communities of practice to provide better communication opportunities

January 30, 2018

The Teachers First program is about the professional development of teachers.  Unlike other programmes it focuses on behaviours and combines formal workshops with ongoing mentoring and an online platform.  The program enables teachers to spread good practice and bring other teachers on the journey to improving the life chances of millions of children across Egypt. A core element of the program is the development of communities of practice (CoPs).  The Greater Cairo pilot built on the foundations of the development of CoPs by extending the community to include officials and supervisors within Idaras and Modereyas.  Engaging more of the educational hierarchy in the program encourages open lines of communication, and feedback between teachers and their Idaras and Modereyas, which in turn supports the sustainable growth of communities of practice within schools. This also enables schools to become centres of excellence that assist in building the Egyptian learning society. The pilot focuses on developing professional development of officials in Modereyas and Idaras in four key areas Mentoring and follow-up Quality assurance Active learning Supporting teachers practices Cairo, Giza and Qalyoubeia were the three Modereyas selected for the pilot program, all of which have demonstrated incredible success. Participants implemented their learnings, and school support has notably increased. All participants have also been introduced to the behavioural platform Lengo®, and have been active members on it since. The resulting efforts encouraged the consideration of expanding the pilot project to include more Modereyas, and see the same positive results reverberating through a wider range of schools across Egypt. So, while the Greater Cairo Pilot was born as an experiment to bring teachers and education officials closer, it has now become a full program with the aim of raising the level of understanding and support for teachers across more Egyptian Modereyas, and eventually all of them.

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