We, at Teach For Bulgaria, believe that people are the most valuable resource to help bring about positive change in our lives and to contribute to every child’s access to quality education which would allow them to realize their full potential. This is why we offer a leadership and professional development program which allows motivated university graduates and professionals with different backgrounds to deepen their understanding of education in Bulgaria and to gain the skills and knowledge it takes to improve its quality.
The participants in Teach For Bulgaria’s program teach at Bulgarian public schools where their support is most needed for a period of two years. They continue working towards equal access to quality education after the program by pursuing careers in some of the following tracks – effective teaching and school leadership, social entrepreneurship, public policy, and community development. This career development helps Teach For Bulgaria alumni become change agents in education along with team members, partners, and other supporters of the organization.
The successful candidates start their participation in Teach For Bulgaria’s leadership and professional development program and begin their training in the Preliminary Institute. The goal of this preliminary training is to help our participants understand the unequal access to quality education in Bulgaria and direct their attention to some of the possible solutions to this problem. The participants visit classrooms and observe the way current teachers teach at different schools. They also attend workshops and seminars, work on case studies in education, and do some further reading.
Another important process which happens at the same time as the Preliminary Institute is the teaching vacancies submission. The principals of our partner schools submit vacancies for teaching positions which our participants are going to take up for a period of two years.
Every year, July marks the beginning of Teach For Bulgaria’s 7-week Summer Institute. It lays the foundation for our participants’ work as teachers for the next two years. The first three weeks of the Institute take place outside of Sofia and the following four – in the capital city. The participants learn how to create a vision for the success of their students, set goals, plan and execute student assessments, plan lessons, manage their classrooms, implement specific teaching methods, complete administrative tasks, work with the national standards of education, etc. The Summer Institute is obligatory for all participants in our program and it requires their full-time dedication.
The participants in Teach For Bulgaria’s program also learn how to work according to the principles of the international model Teaching as Leadership. The model is aimed at preparing and supporting teachers to be effective in their work with students with low achievements from families with low socioeconomic status. The principles of Teaching as Leadership have helped teachers all over the world improve their students’ motivation and achievements significantly. Teaching as Leadership is adopted by all organizations in the Teach For All network – nearly 50 organizations from around the globe, including Teach For Bulgaria, striving to provide access to quality education to every child. The main principles of Teaching as Leadership are:
• set big goals which are measurable and meaningful to the students;
• plan purposefully, so that the ultimate goal is students’ success and so that the plan outlines the most effective ways to get there;
• invest students and their families in the pursuit of the big goals;
• execute effectively and adjust as necessary;
• analyze collected data on student results and adjust your approach accordingly;
• work relentlessly and do not lose faith in the potential of teachers and students.
The first three weeks of the Summer Institute are dedicated to practical training which prepares our participants for the annual Summer Academy for students from 1st to 12th grade which takes place at two schools in Sofia. The participants in our program plan lessons, teach classes, and analyze their students’ results while a team of coordinators – experienced professionals in education – observe their classes and provide feedback.
In the meantime, the participants in Teach For Bulgaria’s program who are not certified teachers start their qualification at one of our partner universities – Plovdiv University or Veliko Tarnovo University. The qualification programs they provide are in compliance with all state regulations. Teach For Bulgaria covers all certification expenses.
Every participant in Teach For Bulgaria’s program makes the commitment to work as a teacher for a period of two years. Working with students, parents, fellow teachers, principals, and community stakeholders is the best way for our participants to deepen their understanding of education in Bulgaria. This is the only way for them to find the most effective solutions which would lead to positive change. Besides, teaching helps them develop a variety of skills which would be useful in their career development, whether they choose to stay in the profession or pursue a different path. According to the World Economic Forum, some of these skills are crucial for professional success in the 21st century – decision making, emotional intelligence, coordination, people management, creativity, critical thinking, and complex problem solving.
Our participants teach at partner schools of the organization. These are schools whose students underperform at national external assessments, but whose staff are willing to work relentlessly in order to help children achieve more. The participants in Teach For Bulgaria’s program can choose from the submitted teaching vacancies which match their profile. The sooner people apply to participate in the program, the more options they will be able to choose from. After the matching process principals interview the participants to make sure they are appropriate for the teaching positions available at their schools. Teach For Bulgaria’s team helps participants make the right decision by providing them with all the relevant information about the vacancies and the partner schools.
Teach For Bulgaria is working with partner schools located in 11 administrative regions of Bulgaria for the 2018/2019 school year. These are Veliko Tarnovo, Vratsa, Lovech, Montana, Pazardzhik, Pleven, Plovdiv, Razgrad, Sofia City, Sofia Province, and Stara Zagora.
Our participants have an individual approach to their students, believe in every child’s potential, and work relentlessly to help their students discover their talents and grow. They focus on students’ motivation to learn and try to help them gain self-confidence. They implement a variety of teaching methods and invite inspirational guest speakers in their classrooms to broaden children’s minds. Teach For Bulgaria teachers also build relationships with their students’ families and encourage them to support their children in their studies. Another crucial aspect of their job is the way they collaborate with local community stakeholders – important partners in their work towards better education for every child.
During their work at school every participant in Teach For Bulgaria’s program works with a coordinator with teaching experience who provides them with professional support. Coordinators observe classes, hold monthly meetings, give feedback and guidance, so that teachers can improve their work. They help our participants identify all positive trends in the classroom as well as certain areas of improvement, and provide support with lesson and curriculum planning. Coordinators also support teachers in their future career development by helping them determine their professional interests and providing opportunities for ongoing training and qualification.
Projects and Ongoing Training
Our participants develop their own school and community projects during the two-year program. This allows for some extracurricular activities with the students and helps teachers develop their planning and organizational skills giving them access to a network of external partners who can support their work.
All participants in our program have additional ongoing training during their two years in the classroom. This ongoing training is based on our participants’ professional needs and areas of improvement.
Providing every child in Bulgaria with equal access to quality education is a long-term goal which can only be accomplished with the joint effort of many committed people. This is why Teach For Bulgaria keeps supporting all participants even after the two-year program at school.
Our participants pursue different career paths, but our goal is for every single one of them to keep working towards better education in Bulgaria, inspired by their experience in the program and further professional development.
Teach For Bulgaria has identified four career paths which, based on our experience and research, are key for the development of the education system. These are:
• effective teaching and school leadership;
• social entrepreneurship;
• public policy;
• community development.
The organization purposefully helps participants develop the necessary skills and provides them with additional professional support, if they decide to pursue a career in one of these four areas after they finish the two-year program. The opportunities for professional support include project-based funding, stipends, access to career development training, contacts with key partners from the selected career track.
Our participants are also part of Teach For Bulgaria’s ever-growing community. Together with our team, institutional, corporate, and non-governmental sector partners, as well as our individual supporters, they find and implement solutions aimed at improving the quality of education in Bulgaria.