Meet STIR Education

The Problem we seek to solve: Over 90% of all children in developing countries are now enrolled in school – a remarkable achievement. Yet when in school most children learn very little. We know teachers make the biggest difference in whether children learn – yet many teachers are absent from school, poorly motivated and inadequately skilled. More fundamentally, teaching is not seen as a true profession, with a pivotal role in shaping life-chances for all children, either by teachers themselves or by society at large.

What we do: We motivate, network and empower teachers to become committed, skilful and influential changemakers and practitioners – so they can improve their own teaching, as well as contribute to a wider teacher-led movement for change, in order to improve children’s learning.

Our Vision:

  • to become the leading independent professional movement for teachers across the developing world; teacher-led, and focused on improving children’s learning.
  • to reach a critical tipping point where up to 10% of teachers in countries we operate in, are part of the movement, and contribute to changing the perception, status and moral purpose of teaching – so that it can evolve into a true profession in developing countries.
  • to build a comprehensive and vibrant ecosystem of partners (government, NGOs, funding partners, unions and the private sector), to actively support and sustain this teacher movement. 

 Our Model

Our three-step teacher empowerment and development journey is:

IGNITE + INTEGRATE + INGRAIN = IMPACT

IGNITE:

We re-ignite the motivational spark within teachers, through recognising their existing efforts (their micro-innovations in the classroom) and then networking them together to form local teacher changemaker networks.

In these networks teachers develop practical skills to identify specific barriers to children’s learning, and create or select adapt small-scale innovations to address these barriers. We also support teachers to influence their peers to join them in their improvement efforts.

How it works: 1-3 month process that encourages teachers to share their own solutions for improving learning (‘micro-innovations) with peers, and gain recognition for doing so (Innovation)

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Subsequent 6-9 month period where teachers are active members of a local changemaker network, giving them a practical experience of implementing a learning improvement cycle (Implementation), as well as influencing peers through in-school innovation teams (Influence)

INTEGRATE: We support teachers to adapt and integrate evidence-based practices in their teaching, to become more effective practitioners over time.

How it works:

  • Teacher-challenges: year 2, 3 and 4 that successively gives teachers in our networks exposure to the key principles in important education areas (reading, classroom practice, parental engagement, assessment, numeracy and 21st century skills). Teachers are then challenged to apply these principles in their own classrooms, and measure the results, through a national competition. Successful teachers in the competition can go on to receive specialist training, provided by STIR partners, and become ‘champions’ in that area for their schools and local networks.
  • Marketplace of opportunities: Teachers can take up an array of development opportunities and resources, offered by STIR partners, based on need and interest – for example, in areas like school leadership or English language, ICT training or provision of books.
  • Resources: Teachers benefit from stimulating teaching content provided through a STIR Teacher TV channel and newspaper, at each network meeting and beyond. Teachers can also connect with each other to collaborate virtually and to access content (e.g. on specific micro-innovations) through mobile, voice and online platforms.

INGRAIN: From year 2 and beyond, teachers take increasing ownership over their own professional improvement and involvement in their local networks (with other stakeholders such as local government officials), and in contributing to the movement at local, national and international levels. They can contribute to policy and system system reform through interaction with STIR official and policymaker networks, and through participation in the STIR Policy Lab.

= IMPACT

Teachers who successfully graduate through the STIR teacher empowerment and development possess the following characteristics:

  1. Moral purpose: believe in the potential of all children and the role of teachers in shaping that potential; are resilient and persevere in the face of challenges
  2. Committed to children’s learning: focus their work on children’s learning, and measure it systematically to ensure they are having genuine impact
  3. Proactive, reflective practitioners: understand barriers to learning, put or adapt appropriate solutions into place, assess whether these solutions are improving learning and refine accordingly (the learning improvement cycle)
  4. Hungry to improve practice: aware of new opportunities to improve practice and pro-actively take on new opportunities to improve their own teaching
  5. Influential practitioners: keen to become an active member of the professional movement, at the local, national and international levels, and work with parents and policymakers; through role-modelling 21st century skills such as communication, influencing, collaboration, creativity and leadership.

STIR’s certification framework (in partnership with leading academic institutes, such as Roehampton University) enables teachers to pass through 5 levels of membership of the movement, starting from Associate Teacher Changemaker all the way to Distinguished Fellow. For the final two levels (Fellow and Distinguished Fellow) teachers must put themselves forward for a rigorous independent assessment of their teaching and student results, in addition to demonstrating exceptional efforts in developing their network and the wider movement.

How we measure the impact of our movement overall:

Our theory of change is that motivated, networked and empowered teachers are better practitioners and can lead improvement in learning. This leads to better student learning outcomes. We therefore measure our impact at a movement level through:

  1. Measurable improvements in teacher motivation, self-efficacy, effort, classroom behaviours, teaching practices and career progression
  2. Measurable improvements in student learning outcomes
  3. Tangible policy change such that key barriers to the professionalising of teaching, and to teachers’ ability to impact children’s learning, are addressed in the countries we work in

‘STIR Inside’: Scaling our Movement through Partners

We want to scale our movement through NGO and government partners – so that wherever possible we use and accelerate infrastructure that already exists:

  • We motivate, train and support field staff of leading education NGOs, and local government officials to run teachers changemaker networks. These individuals are recognised as Education Leaders and receive training, mentoring, certification and technical resources from STIR and its partners.
  • Through our ‘STIR Inside’ programme, we seek to embed our model fully and deeply into NGO and government structures, making it truly sustainable, so that STIR’s own organisational role becomes can focus on being a quality and standard setter. Our partner organisations receive training, support and certification from STIR to embed our methodology into their programmes so they can achieve an increasingly powerful impact on children’s learning over time. Where required STIR also assists its partner organisations to reallocate or raise the necessary marginal resources to deeply embed the methodology into their organisations. Partners are also able to learn from each other’s efforts and be part of an exciting national and international learning community.

Our Growth Aspirations:

By 2017: a movement and professional society of 30,000 teacher changemakers by 2017 – positively impacting learning for over 1 million children in India and Uganda. At an average cost of $200 per teacher and $6 per child.

By 2022: a professional movement of 1 million teacher changemakers, with different stages of progression – positively impacting learning for over 40 million children, or 1 in 7 of all children in the developing world affected by the learning crisis. At an aspired cost of less than $40 per teacher and $1 per child. And ecosystem of over 100 committed partners – operating partners, funders, policy makers and education influencers – who actively support and sustain this movement

Funders, Partners & Organisation

  1. Supported to date by 17 of the world’s leading donors including USAID, DFID, MacArthur, Mastercard, ARK UBS, Mulago, Draper Richards Kaplan, Peery and Segal Foundations
  2. 21 operating partners include Pratham, Room to Read, Bharti Foundation, Educate!, Educate Girls, Building Tomorrow, Akanksha, Africa Education Trust, and governments of India (MHRD, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh) and Uganda
  3. Boards include senior leaders from Central Square Foundation, World Bank, Microsoft, OFSTED, Teach First, British Council, Institute of Education, Stanford University and Pearson
  4. Profiled in the likes of the Economist, New York Times, CNN, Times of India
  5. Staff located across Delhi, Lucknow, Kampala and London

Download STIR Brochure