Divya Behl, Global Schools Forum: #LearningPlanet Educator Voices

Meet Divya:

My name is Divya Behl and I am the Programme Manager at Global Schools Forum. Previously, I supported teachers working in low income schools in India and Africa and, as a Teach For India Fellow in 2010,  I taught second grade in a free public school in western India. On behalf of GSF, we wish all teachers around the world a Happy World Teachers’ Day!

Global Schools Forum (GSF) works to strengthen global education through supporting non-state organisations in developing countries who serve children from low-income backgrounds.  We are a membership organisation united by a common vision of a world in which all children are able to access quality education. Our network of 64 member organisations spans 52 countries across Africa, Asia and South America, and collectively run or support 30,000 schools which provide education to over 5 million children.

Why is it important to have a network of teachers?

A network of like-minded peers is a boon in any profession, all the more in a creative one like teaching. A network for teachers, local or global, allows for continuous learning outside of formal training sessions – exchanging ideas, student case-studies, lesson plans, resources and even day to day concerns. At GSF, members like Dignitas create communities of practice in their schools that enable the creation of a positive environment through which teachers can affect change with accountability.

What have been some of the ways teachers in your network have led in these times of crisis?

We have seen exemplary examples of strength, creativity and commitment from teachers in our network. In several GSF member organisations, many of which run schools in remote regions, teachers with no prior exposure to technology quickly adapted to online teaching. They used whatever means they had to continue teaching their students. Teachers at Rising Academies switched to using radio, Peepul and Simple Education Foundation leveraged WhatsApp, and several other teachers began using text messaging to maintain continuity of education.

At United World Schools and Luminos Fund, teachers repurposed their role to support community welfare. Despite facing tough times themselves, teachers made phone calls to check on the emotional and mental wellbeing of their students regularly. Teachers truly became the frontline warriors in these times!

How do you re-imagine the future for teachers in your network?

Teaching is a difficult job and we recognise that. Having been a teacher myself, I envision a future where schools and wider systems provide the extensive support teachers need to do their jobs well. Besides instructional and content guidance, teachers receive support in their mental wellbeing. There is time and space for teachers to share the stress that comes with their work, access to tools to mitigate some of the stress factors, and most importantly, a peer community to reach out to.

(Photo courtesy: Divya Behl)

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