Learning and Leading


What would it take to build the largest knowledge base of effective teaching practices in the world? Well, for starters it would take a lot of great teachers willing to share their best practices. You can go to the What Works Clearinghouse, but most teachers won’t find the practical advice they need day in and day out to improve their practice. So where are all these effective teachers hanging out? One of the Gates events I’d love to hold next year would be a gathering of teacher leaders from the over 100 fellowships that we’ve found online.

Teacher fellowships are one way for educators to take a step back from their daily teaching responsibilities and gain knowledge and expertise—whether it’s in STEM fields, policy or research—that they can take back to their students and colleagues.  In turn, the organizations that offer the fellowships benefit by having the perspective of someone who works with students and in schools everyday.

We did some research on the top 100 teacher fellowships and will soon have a booklet that describes the wide variety of fellowships available so more teachers can find organizations that match their experience and areas of interest. We want teachers to know where to look for these opportunities, what organizations are offering them and what they might expect to get out of them.

We defined fellowships as competitive opportunities for experiential learning, training and professional development over time. They are typically sponsored by:

  • Foundations and trusts
  • Universities and research institutions
  • Government agencies and programs
  • Non-governmental and nonprofit organizations
  • Private corporations

The fellowships we have been compiling fall into four categories: research; policy and advocacy; early-career support; and teacher leadership and retention. Some are more self-directed, while others are structured so that fellows work more as a cohort.

Stay tuned as we finish putting this book together. Hopefully, we’ll see more teachers taking advantage of these rich opportunities and sometime next year we’ll be able to bring a critical mass of these teachers together to share best practices.

– C.