Mirvat Jarrar, an assistant head teacher at the Baqa’a Elementary Girls School No. 3 in Jordan, isn’t content with always doing things the same way. “I’m not happy sitting still,” she said. “I want to move forward, changing and improving; I always try to develop myself.” This habit extends to her work; she likes to keep up-to-date on the latest teaching methods and explore new ways of leading and working with staff.
Ms Jarrar and her fellow head- and assistant head teachers at United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools in Jordan have embarked on a new professional development journey. Part of the UNRWA education reform, the Leading for the Future programme will help ensure Palestine refugee students continue to access high-quality education.
The programme develops leadership skills through seven main focuses: teacher development, civic enrichment, quality teaching and learning, engaging local communities, leadership and planning, and student affairs. It provides proven, practical tools to build on head teachers’ existing management skills by enhancing self-awareness, self-reflection and self-management techniques.
UNRWA North Amman area education officer Ayman Bakkar said Leading for the Future prepares participants for the evolving responsibilities of leading UNRWA schools. The Agency plans to change head- and assistant head teacher posts to principal and assistant principal posts, requiring greater responsibility and accountability, as well as more modern, effective leadership skills from UNRWA staff.
“This project teaches head teachers and assistant head teachers how to demonstrate leadership at the school level and pass this experience on to teachers and students,” Mr Bakkar said. The ultimate goal is to improve the schools and the education they provide, by “ensuring quality teaching and learning, building links with the community and preparing students for life.”
Leading for the Future, which requires a time commitment of around one hundred hours from each trainee, has four main stages: preparation, engagement, development and impact. The programme takes a blended learning approach; participants attend a limited number of face-to-face sessions with trainers and complete a number of self-study modules and implementation tasks. Mr Bakkar explained that the self-learning approach means trainees can learn in their own time and at their own pace, with the assistance of support teachers and facilitators.
He added that the preparation and engagement events have been well received by participants. “In North Amman, the head teachers and assistant head teachers were very enthusiastic. They have a clear idea of the positive effects it will have on their work,” he said. “Some were concerned that the programme would place an extra burden on them, but the engagement event cleared this concern.”
Ms Jarrar, with her focus on self-improvement and development, was perhaps the ideal trainee for Learning for the Future. “It is progress and we are very thankful to take part,” she said. “It is nice to update yourself, improve yourself, and be ready for the future. Things are changing.” UNRWA teachers like her are ready to change with the times.
For more information about the UNRWA education reform.