September is a time for new beginnings, not just for pupils or students, but also for teachers. As every year, some of them are in front of classes for the first time. Among these new educators joining the education system are 25 students of the programme “Teach for all” who come to schools with the goal not only of teaching children one thing or another, but also of making changes in education. Although these teachers start work in schools in different Lithuanian cities and towns, they will teach children different subjects, and they themselves differ in their personalities, age, professional experience, all of them united by the desire to contribute to the development of the education system that meets the needs of each pupil.
A new generation of educators starts work
After intensive preparation for school work in summer, teachers from the new generation of “Teach for all” selected from 424 candidates from September start working in schools in Vilnius, Kaunas, Kaunas district, Klaipėda, Panevėžys, Biržai, Trakai, Trakai district, Naujoji Akmenė, Kazlų Rūda and Žemaičių Kalvarija. Here they will teach mathematics, biology, physics, chemistry, Lithuanian, English, Russian, economics and entrepreneurship, technology, civic and non-formal education, physical culture, and develop children’s social and emotional skills. But teaching these subjects is only part of the work of the new teachers.
“The teachers of our program make up about 15-20% of all teachers joining the education system each year. This is a really significant number. More importantly, however, these teachers come to schools with the aim of seeking change and contributing to the development of an education system that recognizes and responds to the needs of each child. These teachers are guided by values and conviction that every child, regardless of the social environment, must be able to grow in a stimulating environment, realise their potential and acquire the skills needed in their future life,” says Agnė Motiejūnė, head of the programme “Teach for all”.
Teachers have a broader role than transferring knowledge
Edita Maslauskaitė, the head of the main partner of the programme of the Vilnius Trade Support Fund “Now”, says that consistent and patient work with students, which is the responsibility of teachers, is crucial because children are the future of the country – future creators, scientists, and leaders. According to Maslauskaitė, this is why teachers have a very responsible role – to help children grow up and become confident, creative and active personalities.
“It is not enough for teachers to be professionals transferring knowledge of a particular subject to children. Their competences must be much broader and include understanding the needs of children, empathy, the ability to listen and encourage, and to help children learn in a way that is most appropriate for each of them.” The programme “Teach for all” aims to gather a community of such educators, therefore we have supported it for years and invested more than 1 million euros,” points out Maslauskaitė.
In cooperation with the programme of the Vilnius Trade Support Fund “Now”, „Teach for all“ has trained 87 teachers and implemented 60 change projects in schools.
Seeks to empower teachers to make changes
Motiejūnė points out that it is also very important to empower teachers and allow them to take leadership in order to address the problems of exclusion and lack of inclusion in schools.
“Our education system really lacks leadership and initiative. That is why we must try to empower teachers to act, not just fulfil their obligations. This is one of the priorities of our programme. For this, the motivation of people coming into the education system themselves to contribute to change is very important, so we pay really close attention to this when selecting candidates. The motivation of the programme teachers to work and achieve change in schools is evidenced by the fact that 75% of them continue to work in education after two years,” implies Motiejūnė.
Motiejūnė says that the participants of the programme “I choose to teach!” come to schools to help to implement the change projects that are most relevant to a concrete school. A total of 70 such projects have already been implemented or are being implemented today. Collectively, over 200 teachers who can and want to take leadership have already joined the education system through the programme “Teach for all”. According to Motiejūnė, as an increasing number of proactive education specialists come to schools, more and more change projects are implemented, the whole education system is gradually changed from the bottom up.