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Teachers in Crisis

What are the best ways to provide quality, relevant, supportive and motivational professional development for refugee teachers?

Photo of Mary Mendenhall
28 18

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We must do a better job supporting teachers working in refugee contexts, especially refugee teachers who may be new to the profession. They need interactive and hands-on training opportunities to learn about teaching, ongoing in-service support, mentoring and other collaborative opportunities. We have the opportunity to pilot new approaches to supporting teachers -- mobile mentoring! We also need to ask the teachers themselves what they need as they know first hand what their strengths and weaknesses are and the challenges they face in the classroom. We need to document good teaching practices by refugee teachers to share with others vs. bringing in outside resources/models that may not be relevant to the context. The Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) recently published Where It's Needed Most: Quality Professional Development for All Teachers which is a great start in drawing attention to the needs of teachers. We can and have to do better! The teachers deserve it and the learners in their classrooms have a right to receive a quality education.

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Photo of Martha Ware

Mary, I know this phase is completed, but I just love the idea of mobile mentoring. It got me thinking: what if there were a way to help low-income American teachers by offering a reasonable hourly stipend and pair them with these new teachers in refugee groups? We have the technology already; what remains to be solved is the relationship building and the system that will organize and support such relationships. And with the difficulties of time zone differences, asynchronous video messaging could be helpful. If these were opened up to a favoriting system among the wider group of new teachers, they could be seen as prototypes for self-study videos that could be developed later.

Photo of Mary Mendenhall

Hi Martha.
Thanks for your comment. I like your idea very much. We have been grappling with how the mentoring aspect of this project could be most meaningful. We are inclined to even call is Virtual Mentoring, which would allow us to use mobile phones for more motivational/supportive messaging and then email and/or a Facebook group (which many teachers seems to have) to share more substantive tips and resources for their classrooms, which could include video messaging. There are many ideas to explore here for sure! For any teachers in the US or elsewhere to participate, they would also need to go through some type of induction training to help them fully comprehend what a classroom looks like in this context and the serious challenges teachers face. We'll have lots of photos and videos from this piloting phase that would hopefully be useful for providing some type of orientation to any volunteers/partners on the other end.

Photo of Kathleen Denny

I like the idea of incorporating film into teacher professional development efforts. A study conducted of pre-service teachers in Nigeria found the use of video recording equipment in microteaching to be even more effective than microteaching alone (Kpanja, 2001). Kpanja (2001) found that teachers who were able to review a video recording of themselves conducting a microteaching mini lesson, were more confident and adequately prepared to use the lesson in the classroom.

Kpanja, E. (2001). A study of the effects of video tape recording in microteaching
training. British Journal of Educational Technology, 32(4), 483-486.

Photo of Mary Mendenhall

Thanks for sharing this resource, Kathleen. Very interesting!

Photo of Charlotte Bergin

I am also really interested in the idea of documenting and sharing practice Kathleen – thanks for the article! I think video clips are a crucial way to do this – while some trainings do use video clips, they often use examples from western classrooms. I think it’s a really important step to capture examples of great teaching practice from refugee teachers themselves, and to use these in Teacher Professional Development.

Photo of Kathleen Denny

I agree Charlotte! Have you heard of any studies where videos have been used in refugee contexts? Or have any sources to share about using videos in teacher professional development?

Here is what I have put together so far: https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/research/video-based-pedagogy-for-refugee-teacher-professional-development

Photo of Mary Mendenhall

Hi Kathleen.
The IRC's Healing Classrooms multimedia resource kit and training has videos of actual teachers from the sample contexts (Liberia and Pakistan to name two examples), but we need more examples from different contexts, classroom types, etc.

Photo of Kathleen Denny

Here is a post about action research:
https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/research/teacher-research-activities-action-research

Photo of Peter Bjorklund

Hey Mary, this is a fantastic framework to start looking at ways to improve refugee teacher education. I think your idea of including the voices of refugee teachers to find out what they need is vital. It is missing in the literature and it seems to be missing from the development training materials. I also really like the idea of filming good practices of refugee teachers. I think you could add a spoke to your framework that looks at supporting teacher professional identity and accessing resources and skills of the refugee teachers https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/research/teacher-training-to-support-teacher-identity-in-spontaneous-and-tentative-teachers. Thanks for sharing these wonderful ideas.

Photo of Sheila

I like this approach to teacher professional development for refugee teachers. I agree that the refugee teachers’ voices are important in the discussion of their professional development needs. The emphasis on participatory action research about teachers with teachers as one aspect of TPD in refugee settings contributes to the unique appeal of this opportunity to improve TPD for refugee teachers.

Photo of Charlotte Bergin

Hi Mary, thank you so much for sharing such an important document. I completely agree with you, teachers really are at the heart of this discussion. As a result I think we need to place more emphasis on teacher well-being and support. In their research, Kirk and Winthrop really highlighted the importance of teacher wellbeing for student wellbeing (especially in these contexts) and the IRC’s Healing Classrooms Initiative (http://healingclassrooms.org/index.html) includes some really interesting resources to approach this very issue. As you say, there is so much more that needs to be done. I would be really interested to hear more about the Mobile Mentoring idea.

Photo of Kathleen Denny

Open Educational Resources (OER) could provide refugee teachers additional support. Read more here:
https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/research/open-education-resources

Photo of Shane Zhao

Great thought starter Mary – looking forward to hearing more on this in the upcoming Ideas phase. Make sure you post it again there too – and meanwhile you might like to check out the Feed Your Idea section here: http://bit.ly/oi_inspire Hoping to see more of you on OpenIDEO.

Hope you'll be back to post it in the Ideas phase as well. Meanwhile you might like to think about what research and insights would feed your Idea and post them here before the Research phase closes