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The transformative value of teaching as an agency for chang

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

Ashoka's Guide to Good Educational Practices guides educational leaders to implement empathy and change agency in the classroom. Two teachers certified by Fundación Share share their stories of transcendence in education. Learn about their experiences.

Ashoka, the international organization recognized for promoting social entrepreneurship and change agency, and MetLife Foundation developed the Guide to Good Educational Practices with the aim of sharing tools to integrate new ways of teaching. Through eight models, with replicable methodologies and dynamics, they provide access to activities that develop transformative skills and innovative ideas.

The creation of this guide arises from the need to create spaces for teachers and students to strengthen their confidence in their own leadership and become active as agents of change. In this way, through formal and non-formal education, people will be able to have a positive impact on their communities from different contexts.

Within the deployment of inspiring educational models is Fundación Share, which encourages embracing diversity and promoting inclusive leadership. The organization is responsible for bringing different groups together under ideal conditions with the purpose of transforming beliefs and motivating mutual support in a symmetrical way. They believe that by cultivating empathetic, supportive and collaborative societies, healthy relationships are achieved that lead to inclusion and where all types of discrimination are combated. Therefore, they provide educators with exercises to incorporate in their classes to practice empathy and inclusion.

With this premise, Fundación Share detects the opportunity to counteract discrimination through education. By means of proven tools, with accompaniment for teachers and mutual support links, an inclusive leadership training is consolidated. Therefore, it issues a Certification in Inclusive Leadership (valid for one year) of methodological transfer, advice and mentoring in practice, as well as reinforcement of knowledge to create experiential learning activities. The certification also seeks to support teachers in the incorporation of curricular content on gender equality from an intersectional perspective.

The first generation to receive certification in 2021 was made up of 69 schools from the different subsystems (general high school, technological high school and community telebachillerato), who after their certification, were invited to co-design the program in a bootcamp with members of Fundación Share's Inclusive Education Network. Thus, in July 2022, with this redesign, a second generation will begin with 422 high schools.

To learn about the importance of these certifications and the implementation of teaching with an agency of change, we interviewed two teachers from the State of Mexico who are participants in the Share Foundation program: Jatziri Hilaria Jove Mendoza from the Community Telebachillerato number 275 in Villa de Allende and Emmanuel Ulage Reyes from the Community Telebachillerato number 338 in Chapa de Mota. Both agree that what they enjoy most about being teachers is learning and sharing knowledge with other people whose thinking and aspirations evolve throughout the courses they teach.

Teacher Jatziri was part of the first generation of the certification. She explains that, sometimes, although it is complex to incorporate more weight to the workload and the time invested in learning new concepts and strategies, having that added value is worth it. After the on-screen lessons, everything took shape for her at the face-to-face camp: she revolutionized her idea of being just another individual serving the educational system, to seeing herself as a person whose ideals and thoughts are listened to and valued.

For teacher Emmanuel, the program set a different standard of learning than what staff in educational institutions are used to. They both claim to have experienced a transformation in their attitude, being more proactive in renewing themselves and also with greater social-emotional responsibility in understanding their students and the way they address them.

According to Professor Emmanuel, being a teacher change agent means having the ability to understand diversity and put in place strategies to improve the way knowledge is transmitted. Meanwhile, teacher Jatziri assures that by investing time and effort, as well as being present in the role of teacher, she has a greater reach by helping students continue with their academic training.

"In community telebachillerato you become an agent of change, whether you want to or not. Some of us already live in these indigenous communities where we teach, so you also become part of the environment, you understand it a little more. And the fact that there are only three of us teachers in the school makes you get more involved with them, learn more about their stories. Not just seeing them as a number or a statistic, but getting to know their stories in depth, and knowing their stories allows that student to know that he or she has been heard and therefore to continue with his or her studies," he points out.

These experts consider that three values that a teacher who wants to leave a mark must have are: empathy, active listening and being flexible in the face of change. In this way, teachers will have better analytical and problem-solving skills and will be better communicators. Most importantly, however, as they become more willing to seek out new learning tools and models adapted to what works for their students, they will learn to educate more effectively and refine their teaching techniques.

"The bond between teachers and their students is critical to the development of learning. The connection with the students must make a change in their lives and in their academic work," says Emmanuel.

The teacher indicates that the more experiences and information one has, the greater the opportunities that will be presented for the personal and professional path of each student. Above all, she emphasizes that as long as people remember to focus on themselves first, learning will advance continuously.

Although the work of teachers is hard enough, their role in helping their students to manage and know their emotions is crucial. Teacher Jatziri describes that in many occasions the teacher is for students the closest reference to a professional and a focused person with specific skills. Therefore, teachers are an example that influences their perspective and their life.

Faced with this scenario, Professor Emmanuel shares that efforts should be directed to provide the proper support and the best tools to teachers, by government agencies. In this way, teachers will favor learning environments and priority attention to students with educational backwardness. She also emphasizes that developing assertiveness, resilience, teamwork, negotiation and mediation, frustration tolerance and perseverance in teachers, students and parents or guardians, are essential to progress in educational quality.

She also suggests that greater participation of women in their communities is required, as well as a strong presence and leadership transformation in different areas of society, such as STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). In order to have an equitable society.

The teacher Emmanuel mentions: "Changes are gradual, but having a clear vision of fostering a positive environment and through collaboration we can promote growth and above all learning. Undoubtedly, from our place we can plant the seed of change in the minds of our students to create a place where diversity converges without prejudice.

Recommendations for teachers who are agents of change

Both professionals issued a series of tips to encourage the implementation of good educational practices in the classroom.

According to Jatziri Hilaria Jove Mendoza:

"Something I understood is that in order to be able to implement good practices with others, or in this case in education, you first have to apply those good practices with you, try to see how you can grow as an individual."

The teacher points out that if professionals are not good with themselves, they will not be able to provide adequate accompaniment, nor provide the knowledge required for different subjects and disciplinary fields. As long as they are balanced in all areas, they will have an ideal mental health at work, which will lead them to a satisfactory physical health, which will contribute to make better decisions.

In addition, he suggests that if teachers want to have lifelong learning, preparation should not be seen as an obligation, but as an opportunity to broaden their perspective on their own environment. As long as importance is given to listening to others and seeing them as people worthy of admiration and respect, the motivation to grow will increase.

A relevant strategy that Professor Jatziri takes into account is the fact of creating small learning communities. Although sometimes this is almost impossible due to population density, it has been observed that people who want to excel and are given the necessary attention and focus, manage to complete their training successfully.

It also states that it is necessary to understand the differences and changes between generations: their tastes, openness and way of looking at life are different from each other, and some generations can be more challenging with respect to knowledge. However, teachers' experience also evolves and allows them to better address certain situations.

On the other hand, for Emmanuel Ulage Reyes:

It is important to share enthusiasm for education in order to spread the conviction that each teacher has the possibility to generate significant change. Thus, in parallel, support networks can be created with educators who exchange ideas, collaborate, learn and seek solutions together.

In addition, it proposes to teachers to be an example to follow by implementing good educational practices in their daily work and to share concrete evidence that can serve as inspiration. This can happen by communicating the benefits of these practices in a clear way such as improving academic performance or fostering a positive learning environment.

Emmanuel invites you to organize training sessions, with workshops to share the tools and resources you use that have worked for you. Sessions should be interactive and participatory to stimulate the flow of ideas and encourage collaboration.

Each teacher has his or her own pace and work style, but there are technological solutions available to disseminate good educational practices, such as platforms, blogs and web pages. This will provide a space for online discussion.

Fundación Share will continue to participate with more than 600 high schools in the State of Mexico, mostly community telebachilleratos, which translates into an impact on more than 300,000 students this school year.

You can start your registration to train with Fundación Share in the following link, or find some of their activities to live empathy by clicking here. Ashoka from its Child and Youth Co-Leader Community, in conjunction with MetLife Foundation, invites you to access the Guide to Good Educational Practices to discover more about these institutions, as well as the models and tools that compose it.

Join a transformative vision based on empathy and the agency of change!

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