Unforeseen crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and violent conflict remind us that teachers and education systems need to be able to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances to meet the learning needs of children and youth. Capacity for innovation is one of the keys to building resilient education systems.
Capitalizing on the many education innovations prompted by the pandemic, the Teacher Task Force chose “Innovation in teacher policy and practice for educational recovery” as the theme of its 13th Policy Dialogue Forum, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda, and online, 2-3 December 2021.
Some of the main insights documented during the Forum are presented below, including those related to innovations in teaching and learning, teacher education and policy. These have been compiled in the Forum’s Final Report, released today.
Teacher autonomy is essential for meaningful innovation in teaching and learning
Teachers are best placed to assess the conditions of their own classrooms. Based on these, they innovate and adapt their practice, but their innovations often go unrecognized. The Forum highlighted the need to promote teacher autonomy and agency – that is, the capacity to act in an autonomous manner – to generate meaningful pedagogical innovation.
However, they need training, sufficient resources, good working conditions and support to develop the autonomy and agency needed to initiate, implement and evaluate new ways to teach that will improve student learning and wellbeing.
Emphasizing how teaching and learning is based on relationships, Forum participants shared innovative examples of how teachers collaborated with peers and parents during the pandemic.
For instance, in response to school closures, Kenya’s Teachers’ Service Commission provided educators with guidance on how to support other teachers and offer psychosocial support to families and learners.
By providing teachers with opportunities to discuss their teaching practices and exchange resources with each other and with students’ families, key lessons learned now inform Kenya’s policies to support online learning and teacher professional development.
Innovations involving digital technologies must be adapted to each context
The role of digital technologies in innovation was also explored during the Forum, emphasizing tailored and context-sensitive use of technologies rather than one-size-fits-all solutions.
While the pandemic hastened the need for technology-assisted innovations, mechanisms to assess, scale-up and refine are also necessary to ensure these innovations meet the needs for equitable, quality and inclusive education.