School’s Out: International Teachers Return Home to Train Their Peers
After a semester of intensive professional development at four U.S. universities, class was over for the 63 teachers from around the world who participated in the International Leaders in Education Program (ILEP). As they gathered in Washington, D.C. last week during the final event of the program, it was clear that they were now more than master educators: they had become teacher-leaders, ready to share their expertise with hundreds of colleagues across the world.
“We invest in you because when you go home you will touch hundreds of thousands of lives… I can think of no one better to invest in to have a multiplier effect than teachers,” said Meghann Curtis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Programs, as she addressed the teachers at the program’s closing ceremony.
The ILEP program brings teachers from around the world to the U.S. for graduate-level professional development at a U.S. university with field experience at a local middle or high school. As the capstone of their program, ILEP teachers create professional development modules, which are 8-16 hour peer training workshops developed over the course of the semester.
Over the past four years, ILEP educators from 19 countries have developed 38 professional development modules (comprising over 300 hours of content) in 13 topical areas, including critical thinking, instructional technology, large classroom management, and service learning. Teachers select topics for their modules based on the needs of their home communities and their own interests as educators.
During the End of Program workshop last week, the ILEP teachers shared the teaching and facilitation techniques they learned by demonstrating a session from their modules. These demonstrations provide ILEP teachers from across universities with a sampling of the many content areas and facilitation strategies that they could employ when delivering workshops to their colleagues back home. “It was amazing to see,” said Nabanita Baruah of India; “I have learned strategies that I’m going to share.”
Following the program, ILEP teachers return home with an electronic library of professional development modules to share with colleagues. The modules are off-the-shelf resources that ILEP teachers can use to share knowledge and skills to their home schools and communities.
Collectively, program alumni have trained over 7,000 colleagues and students around the world—an impact that will continue as the 2012 cohort of ILEP teachers returns home. Despite the emotional goodbyes during their final day in the U.S., the teachers portended plans to share their expertise upon returning home: “It was a challenge. It was a gift. It was a dream,” said Noha Hassan of Egypt. “We have learned a lot, and we promise you that we will share our knowledge and experience at home.”