Teachers Network aims at teacher empowerment through creating a sustainable learning environment in which teachers can collaborate with their colleagues and stakeholders to education from various disciplines.
Teachers Network performs its operations under Education Reform Initiative (http://www.egitimreformugirisimi.org/) steering with the support and funds provided by six leading foundations in the education field in Turkey: Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV), Aydın Doğan Foundation, Enka Foundation, Mehmet Zorlu Foundation, Sabanci Foundation and Vehbi Koç Foundation.
The network aims to create change with the teachers, not on behalf of the teachers. Main aim is to form a learning society where every single part of the network co-creates via utilizing interaction among different disciplines, adopting the concept of lifelong learning and developing constant collaborations with every stakeholder in the field of education.
Why is it so important to support and empower teachers?
It is known fact that, teachers are the key actors in ensuring the quality of education where students are successful and happy. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to support and empower teachers for the development of children and society. Being aware of the importance of this role in education; the Education Reform Initiative (ERG) conducted a "Research on Teachers" between September 2014 and April 2015 with the collaboration of ATÖLYE , and the support of Vehbi Koç Foundation. The findings of the research, which revealed the current situation of teachers and the problems they have, are as follows:
- Teachers, despite being a member of one of the largest occupational groups in Turkey, feel lonely. They claim that they face social, economic, technological and political oppression.
- Teachers as well feel desperate. To teachers contributed to the research, neither their educational background nor available sources provide adequate means for their professional development.
- Teachers believe that their profession is not respected among society and lost its reputation for being a decent occupation.
- Teachers feel lack of autonomy,
- Teachers complain about not being able to communicate with colleagues and receive feedbacks.
Hence, it yielded to the development of a “Theory of Change” to answer the question, “How can we encourage teachers to empower themselves?”. Theory of Change suggested that empowerment of teachers can only be achieved if they are supported in an environment addressing both their personal and professional needs. This Theory of Change provided the framework to Teachers Network.
How did we become a network?
The foundations of Teachers Network were laid in the pilot implementation process that took place between 2016 and 2017. A total number of 47 teachers from 11 different cities, 6 foundations and stakeholders from different disciplines concerned with increasing the quality of education developed the tools, processes and methods of the Teachers Network. The Network model developed and began to be implemented starting from January 2018.
Network provides creative solution alternatives for teachers’ and other education stakeholders’ needs and lays grounds for teachers to utilize their own areas of interests, know-how and competencies via both physical and digital channels. In order to ensure the sustainability, network structures the physical and digital mediums and brings resources needed in the education field together.
As we fed from each other and gained experience through implementing network’s tools, we specified our core values providing basis for Teachers Network works, together with our teachers. These are as follows; Non Discrimination, Inclusiveness, Equality, Right-based approach and Equity.
Discrimination creates inequalities and hierarchies among people and groups. For the network non discrimination includes questioning these inequalities and also acting on reducing these inequalities through inclusive and right based acitons. Every single member of the network sees, raising awareness against discrimination and stating it is forbidden when they encounter such a situation, as part of being together.
Inclusiveness requires re-organizing education environments to be inclusive of differences. Everybody’s learning speed, level of perception, skills, interests and conditions are different from each other. As unveiling the potential is one of the basic functions of education; inclusiveness is among education’s core values. Network commits itself to both creating such environments and spread this value via its works.
Equality is not behaving everyone equal but caring equally with everybody’s needs. Environments without equality, inclusiveness and right based approach, brings inequality. The Network designs its work and communication channels around the principle of equality.
Right Based Approach
Right based approach to education is supplementary to the principles of equality and inclusiveness. Approaching differences with pity and protective attitudes re-creates hierarchy among differences. Right based approach defends everybody’s inclusion to life based on human rights and equal citizenship.
Equity includes designing education as to include all disadvantaged groups in all aspects such as accessibility, syllabus, finance etc.
It is essential that every single member of the network is devoted to these core values and acts upon making them every day practice of network’s all fields of exercise.
Being a Change Agent
Teachers who take initiative and action to share the tools and solutions developed in the network and share it with their surroundings in addition to being voluntarily involved in the works of the Network are briefly referred to as "Change Agent".
- Use the resources and digital platform of Teachers Network for personal and professional development.
- Adopt and promote the culture and values of the Teachers Network.
- Work in cooperation with people and / or institutions to increase the quality of education.
- Develop, improve and spreads tools of Teachers Network.
- Participate in the decision-making process of the Teachers Network; contribute to the formation and development of the Network.
Content, expertise, communication and organization support to Change Agents is provided by the Facilitating Team.
All teachers can be Change Agents, regardless of their branch or experience. For this, teachers need to participate in periodically held orientations and develop a concrete work proposal to disseminate the work of the Network.
Together, We Can
As the idea of being a network pointed out by the Change Theory comes to life, teachers realize their potential and turn their motivation into solutions and success stories.
More and more teachers say that "they have found their tribes," that "they don't feel alone in teachers' room anymore," and that "they have never felt so valuable before." The Network continues its work with great enthusiasm to empower teachers' self-confidence and to support them to take action for change.