by Chuck Sandy
The best way to change the world for the better is to provide quality education for all learners. The best way to do this is to give all teachers the opportunity to become the best teachers they can be. If we do this, we really can change the world. – iTDi Principle #9
Growing up in a small farming community with extremely limited resources, I saw first-hand how education can change lives and how those changed lives can go on to change the world. Despite having grown up in a background that many would call impoverished, my classmates and I were lucky enough to have had a handful of truly great teachers who not only took their work and their learners seriously, but who also worked tirelessly at becoming better teachers.
I didn’t know much about education back then and certainly nothing about professional development, but being in the classroom with these teachers after they’d attended workshops and seminars – which of course they told us all about – was one of the things that made me fall in love with teaching. These great teachers weren’t just teachers. They were learners, too, and as their learning changed them, that learning changed us. Now, almost forty years later I look out and see the ways that more than a few of my classmates went on to change the world.
From my small graduating class at Eden Senior High School in rural New York State came a labor organizer, an advocate for the homeless, an engineer who has worked on several world-changing technology projects, a musician who wrote some of the advertising jingles we’ve all had stuck in our head, an actor, a politician, a couple of social workers, a number of successful business people, some very innovative farmers, and more than a few teachers. Although we’ve all had different lives, what we all had in common were those very good teachers who got us started by first being the best teachers they could be. Education matters.
Recognizing this some long years ago now is what first led me to devote my life to becoming a better teacher myself and then later to founding the International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi) along with colleagues who believe as strongly as I do that the best way to change the world is by giving all teachers the opportunity to become the best teachers they can be. Since its launch in 2012, iTDi has worked with 1000s of teacher in over 100 counties and I’ve seen first-hand how that work has changed lives. I know that those changed lives will go on to change the world in ways I can now only imagine. As teachers get better at what they do, everything changes. Education matters.
This past year, we’ve had the good fortune of being introduced to an organization whose work supporting teachers exemplifies this principle, and we are proud to announce our growing collaboration with Gallery Languages and the addition of Gallery Languages’ Giovanni Rottura to our board of directors. We first collaborated with Giovanni and his organization on the iTDi / Gallery Teachers Summer Intensive which is now a collection of almost 30 archived presentation videos any teacher can view free. We’ve also provided a way for teachers to use this archive to obtain Professional Development Credit Hours, and since our relationship with Gallery Languages now allows us to reach even more teachers around the world, even more change is possible.
Although we’re now working together on a number of projects, our most visible collaboration is the newly launched GalleryTeachers.com where we aim to provide ideas, materials, and activities for every English teacher with regularly updated columns and downloadable activity sheets. It’s free to subscribe, so please do have a look.
As we increase our reach and our offerings, we increase the likelihood that the work we do will lead to even greater change in the years ahead. Still, just as it was impossible for me to know more than forty years ago where the work the good teachers I had would bring about, it’s now impossible to know where the work iTDi and Gallery Languages is doing with teachers will one day lead. What we do know for sure is that the best way to change the world for the better is to provide quality education for all learners. The best way to do this is to give all teachers the opportunity to become the best teachers they can be. If we do this, we really can change the world. Education matters.