Teachers for Teachers (Kakuma) | Teachers College Columbia University

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Teacher Professional Development in Refugee Contexts

Teachers College, Columbia University and Finn Church Aid, in partnership with UNHCR and the Lutheran World Federation, have launched the new Teachers for Teachers initiative in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya to support refugee and other teachers in their efforts to improve their own teaching practice and student learning in the camp.‌

Through support from IDEO.org, the Teachers for Teachers model was piloted in 2015 and draws on the best evidence for developing the expertise, knowledge, and motivation of teachers through training, coaching and mentoring. It is a multi-layered and staged approach that unfolds over time, giving refugee teachers the opportunity to absorb what they have learned in the classroom and to test and adopt new strategies.


Training teams of international and local staff lead in-person training sessions with 25 to 30-person teacher cohorts. During this time, teachers learn new techniques and methodologies—crafted particularly for emergency contexts—that they can immediately begin putting into practice.There are two concurrent training tracks -- Initial Training Pack and Extended Training Pack -- through which all teachers participate. This is followed by coaching and mobile mentoring. Both cohorts receive training in the following modules: pedagogy, curriculum and planning, child protection, well-being and inclusion, and teacher’s role and well-being


While applying lessons learned from the training sessions, teachers have the opportunity to get contextualized and ongoing support from their coaches who have been selected based on their commitment to quality teaching and dedication to improving their collective profession. Coaches are trained to serve as a reliable and motivating source of support for their fellow teachers. Coaches organize regular meetings with their peers and lead them through discussions, offer positive and constructive feedback, and are available for working through the daily challenges of teaching in a crisis context. Coaching also involves conducting classroom observations through which specific feedback is provided.

One woman coaching another

Mobile Mentoring

Mobile entoring is the third phase of the Teachers for Teachers initiative, through which teachers who have participated in one of the training and coaching tracks have the opportunity for sustained and longer-term support from external, professional resources. Through “Whatsapp” teachers (mentees) are paired with a “Global Mentor” - volunteers from around the world with classroom teaching experience - who provide ongoing, real time support on teaching challenges that arise on a regular basis. Mentors are selected based on their experiences in teaching, working in developing world contexts, and knowledge of the education in emergencies field.



Two people communicating through WhatsApp