Promoting Excellence in Extraordinary Circumstances

Holistic support for refugee teachers

Teachers College — Columbia University (TC) submitted this winning idea after supporting UNHCR’s Refugee Teacher Working Group and realizing that though new training materials for refugee teachers were helpful, what would really move the needle would be to develop a whole system of support. 

In applying to Amplify, CT proposed a holistic approach to the professional development of refugee teachers, which includes in-service training on the mindsets necessary to teach in such a challenging and constraints-driven environment, supported by peer coaching and mobile mentoring tools.

Finn Church Aid (FCA) is a non-profit organization operates in 20 countries worldwide and focuses their work on humanitarian assistance and development and CT enlisted them as a partner in their Amplify submission.

After attending the Amplify bootcamp, these two organizations spent three months prototyping various mobile mentoring approaches with 20 refugee teachers. Their prototypes focused on testing two key hypotheses: that short, regular, practical messages delivered through mobile technology would keep the momentum between training sessions, reinforce key learnings, and motivate teachers to test new ideas in the classroom; and that through the creation of content (e.g. teachers taking photos, videos) and participation in discussions, teachers would deepen their learning and generate useful content for future training.

Throughout their prototypes, the group discovered the appetite for mobile mentoring was strong, and it helped teachers translate theory into practice. The mobile mentoring also showed that teachers have a desire to share the same tool in an offline format, and desire more forums for exchange among themselves. Building off of these learnings, the Amplify design team kicked off a design engagement in February 2016 to help the organizations envision a pilot-ready version of the peer support and mobile mentoring elements of their program.

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