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Cultivating dynamic educators: case studies in teacher behavior change in Africa and Asia

Wed, April 17, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Hyatt Regency, Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific N

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session


This panel brings together several chapter authors of the recently-released book: Cultivating Dynamic Educators: Case Studies in Teacher Behavior Change in Africa and Asia (2018, RTI Press). This book responds to growing pressure by governments, international education professionals, policy makers, and funding partners to improve education outcomes as a path to economic growth improved quality of living. The quality of teachers’ instructional delivery is increasingly recognized as the key to making that happen. The release of the 2016 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),1 through Goal 4, emphasizes the need to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Goal 4 aims to “substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States” (United Nations, n.d.) Strategies for teacher professional development (ideally, leading to what we refer to as “teacher behavior change”) differ by context, but Bold and colleagues (2017) reported that for teachers to improve learning, they must master the curriculum and learn to apply it to the particularities of the children in their classrooms. Yet the reality is that finding, recruiting, deploying, and retaining teachers with basic mastery of the curriculum can be a challenge in many places where teaching is a last-resort profession reserved for those who don’t qualify for higher education. The presenters in this panel tackle this challenge from different angles: promoting a career-wide and lifelong-learning view of teacher development; improving pre-service teacher education by strengthening the capacity of teacher educators; revisiting the importance of a well-designed workshop model of in-service professional development; and strengthening application of training concepts and instructional models through instructional coaching. This career-wide view of ongoing professional learning through multiple modalities offers a critical lens for approaching sustainable education, since it recognizes multiple competing forces on teachers and the need to develop adaptive expertise that teachers can draw upon to cope with changing needs of society and evolving priorities of education with the goal of sustainable development.
The presentations address important questions such as: How do we provide high-quality training at scale? How do we ensure that training transfers to change in practice? What methods are most cost-effective? How do we know what works? These case studies not only describe the different approaches to supporting teacher behavior change, but also discuss the methodologies and approaches to learning during large-scale implementation. Through survey research, qualitative program monitoring, data mining and theory driven evaluation, the presenters describe their best efforts at understanding what works during implementation, so that responsive and appropriate changes can be made, as well as using data after the program ends to study the mechanisms of change based on input characteristics or implementation fidelity. Sarah Pouezevara (editor of the 8-chapter volume) will also frame the technical and methodological content of the case studies as belonging to the “MERLA”—monitoring, evaluation, research, learning and adaptation—approach to evidence-based practice where multiple forms of inquiry drive not just “lesson learning” but applying lessons to practice. In this way, it is relevant to international and comparative education by describing through real-world examples how both theory and context drive decision-making and fidelity of implementation in international cooperation. The descriptions and findings from the panelists don’t suggest empirical models that can be replicated elsewhere, but rather experiences that, combined with other experiences elsewhere, can gradually bring us towards a collective understanding of what is most likely to work, why, and how best to contextualize it for each new circumstance.

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