Learning to Fly: Piloting High Leverage Teaching Practices

Our mission here at TELLAL has always been focused on how to expand our capacity to train and develop the very best teachers and school leaders so that collectively we can continue to raise the standard of education in the UAE and beyond.  With that goal in mind, we are constantly striving to discover and adopt new methodologies for learning and skills development that can benefit our trainees and their careers.  We have been particularly focused on techniques that prioritise the empowerment of participants and facilitate their development in a more organic, and more lasting, way.  That is why we are particularly excited about the initial launch of a new programme that brings to life the high leverage teaching practices that reflect the basic fundamentals of teaching.

On Sunday 19th May, we launched our pilot programme version of high leverage teaching practices that will see seven schools, from the UAE and Egypt, participate in two key modules as we evaluate their progress before a full, phased launch in 2020.  The notion of high leverage teaching practises is relatively new to the region and is designed to foster fundamental capabilities critical to enhanced teaching. Able to be used across all subject areas and grade levels, these high leverage practices will not only advance teacher skills, they will transform the way in which teachers support students’ social and emotional development.  Our programme, which will incorporate eight themes, is based on the 19 high leverage teaching practices that cover crucial areas such as communication, diversity, interpretation, behaviour, assessment and relationship building. 

The pilot programme

Nearly 200 in-service practicing teachers will take part in our initial pilot programme as trainees and mentors.  They will be undertaking two modules at the outset, each with four specific competencies.  Since the modules have been built to support teaching through the instructional coaching model, each competency will have an online and video learning part and then a face-to-face mentor part in order to foster granular micro skills that are essential for advanced teaching performance.  Participants will identify a mentor to support and observe them through the module. This ‘joint practice development’ has much more reciprocity and is therefore more beneficial to both coach and participant.  The flexible timeframe offered by the programme will allow participants to take time to embed the skills into their classroom practice and reflect on the impact on student learning.  The two modules are:

HLTP 1: Student Thinking


  • Facilitating a group discussion
  • Modelling content practices and strategies
  • Eliciting, interpreting and diagnosing student thinking
  • Enhancing student thinking through metacognition


HLTP2: Meeting Students Needs


  • Leveraging student backgrounds as a resource for teaching
  • Teaching differentiated and inclusive lessons
  • Providing responsive feedback
  • Adjusting instruction to respond to student needs

The pilot modules, and the remaining modules, are all designed to develop pathways to teacher improvement in a safe, engaging manner devoid of judgement; and in a way that will lead to a more organic adoption of the practices into their teaching methodologies.  The aim of high leverage teaching practices is that they become a natural part of a teacher’s professional practice and can be adapted to meet the needs of their specific environment and student body. 

Our initial work will be done with the mentors, as we train them how to use the resources provided and then examine how they use it in the pilot module delivery.  The training materials and resources are a mandate for the mentors to use.  Our evaluation of how they use it will help us, and them, further determine the best practices and nuances that might need to be adopted in the full programme.  This is an evolving concept, without rigid boundaries, which greatly enhances its effectiveness and allows us to integrate the differences that occur in teaching within this region. 

The modules that will make up our high leverage teaching practices programme are based around Pam Grossman’s model for andragogically focused learning that produces the best results.  As Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, Pam Grossman has spent years researching and studying the most effectively methodologies for teaching, training and learning.  We have incorporated her findings into the four elements of our programme:

Observe – absorb the representations of the practices

Comprehend – understand the skills and strategies through deconstruction of practice

Practice and Reflect – undertake an approximation of the practices through trial and error

All of which eventually leads to:

Results – the enactment of practices; which will occur when the practices have been fully imbedded into their professional practice.

The programme is an exciting evolution in the TELLAL offering and one that will no doubt provide a much-needed training resource to teachers who wish to expand their skills and grow their careers; as well as enhance their students’ experience and engagement.  We look forward to sharing the progress of the pilot programme with you and all of the news associated with the full launch in 2020.  If you would like to find out more about the programme you can contact Sheryl Rogers at sheryl.rogers@tellalinstitute.com.  

#TELLALTravels – Early Years in Egypt

If you are familiar with some of the work we do here at TELLAL, you might well have noticed that we place a lot of emphasis on collaboration and innovation. Our network of partners and trainees spans many countries in the world and a big part of our work lies in being able to support, teach and learn from people with different backgrounds and experiences.  In an effort to improve standards and practices for all of our students, you can never pass up the opportunity to find out more about new methodologies and share successful pedagogies.  As we have said previously, by working together we can help our students discover their best selves.

As part of this on-going ethos, our very own Jade Peter-Swain, the Executive Principal at Little GEMS International, recently headed out to Egypt to deliver a highly successful Early Years training programme.  She presented a series of workshops that were designed to act as a foundation for Early Years knowledge and understanding. This extremely interactive and immersive programme was provided to over 70 teachers from four different schools, a mix of British, French and Arabic language institutions.

The initiative is part of a wider learning opportunity that TELLAL is offering to this selection of schools keen to enhance their training and knowledge for the benefit of their students.  Key TELLAL trainers and mentors are taking time out to lend their expertise to an enthusiastic band of teachers, at various stages of their career, to give them the tools with which to expand their skill set and face real-life scenarios with the appropriate knowledge.  As with each of the TELLAL team heading out, Jade’s first task was to evaluate the levels of her participants so that she could adapt the programme to best suit their needs.  She was able to discover where specific gaps were and make sure to cover those throughout the comprehensive workshops and agenda.  During the week-long trip, she conducted workshops on the following areas:

  • Child development
  • Methods and Approaches in the Early Years
  • Health and Safety
  • Child Protection and Safeguarding
  • Positive Interactions in the Early Years
  • Enabling Environments in the Early Years

One of the most common themes that developed was around how to develop and adopt Early Years best practice techniques and how to ‘enable environments’ in every sense; encompassing physical environment, expectations, common values and pedagogical approaches.  To help address these concerns, Jade used interactive role plays and discussions based on actual case studies, so that participants could practice specific skills and gain useful feedback that could directly assist them in real life scenarios. The use of games and role play was also a direct reflection of many of the most effective techniques that should be utilised in Early Years teaching.  It allowed Jade to demonstrate the value of engaging Early Years students in creativity, discovery and adventure, as well as how crucial this method is to helping them face future learning.

Jade’s focus was very much on the people she was working with and how to inspire them as teachers to develop their own voice to steer development, rather than relying on an ‘expert’.  She worked hard to help participants identify their inner potential and build their responsiveness, attentiveness and reciprocity in relations.  This was meant to be a series that would become ingrained instead of being recalled and give the teachers room to make the skills their own, not be confined to rigid structures.

Ultimately this trip, which will be followed by a second later this year to offer a more advanced training programme, was an opportunity to provide concrete tools and purposeful methods that these teachers could take back to their classrooms.  Jade was able to share with them the benefits of being able to build their own Early Years network, much like the TELLAL Early Years Educators, and the importance of researching literary activities.  By instilling these teachers with much needed knowledge and examples, Jade was able to help them grow their Continued Professional & Learning Development, find their own unique voice and the associated strength to rise to the occasion required by their students. 

You can read more about how more TELLAL staff got on in Egypt in our #TELLALTravels series. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin to get updates and read the next instalment.

Building Bridges: The TELLAL Fellowship Exchange

A huge part of the work we do here at TELLAL revolves around ways in which we can expand our experiences and learn about new methods and practices to enhance our skill set as educators and trainers.  By engaging proactively with collaborative initiatives and sharing projects, we can all grow and develop in more productive ways; that will ultimately benefit those we teach.   With this ethos driving us, we were absolutely delighted to recently host the first ever TELLAL Fellowship Exchange Programme. 

What is the TELLAL Fellowship Exchange Programme?

The overall purpose of the TELLAL Fellowship Exchange was to give participants the opportunity to expand their knowledge and experience of a Middle Eastern country, its culture and, of course, the Arabic language.  TELLAL worked in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania to develop the programme and raise awareness for those who might wish to put themselves forward.  Potential applicants were encouraged to submit papers on why they would be the most appropriate candidates and what they hoped to get out of the experience.  In the end, two teachers were selected based on their profiles and the way in which their applications stood out; they were Pearl Jonas and Amanda Fiegal.  For both of them, the underlying motivation seemed to be an acknowledgment of the changing faces in their classrooms and how to accommodate that, as well as the desire to grow their skills in how to best prepare their students to be global citizens of the world.  Amanda also added that she wanted her “students to see that when a learning opportunity comes your way, take it.  To know that they should never be afraid to try something new and different and that these experiences shape us and allow us to become better connected with ourselves, our families and our local and global communities.”

The Fellowship Exchange itself was 11 days in total.  The teachers taking part from America were assigned home stays with other teachers, in order to really assist with their immersion into the culture and give them a trusted resource of inquiry throughout their stay. During their trip, TELLAL designed a comprehensive six day course that would enhance their professional learning development of Arabic culture.  They were placed in Al Khaleej National School (AKN) and were each assigned a co-teacher to work with on developing a joint project as well as expanding their knowledge on a range of topics from cultural practices to speaking and reading Arabic.  Whilst they might not have been here long enough to quite become fluent, learning little phrases and greetings significantly enhanced their experience and offered them a lovely gesture to use with their Arabic students at home in the USA.  The lucky participants were also able to immerse themselves into Arabic culture and UAE traditions through a variety of excursions and activities, including an extremely informative lunch at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and a delicious Middle Eastern feast at Karam Restaurant under the majestic Dubai Mall Fountains.  Armed with their very own Dubai Passes, Pearl and Amanda also opted to visit the newly opened Dubai Safari and, of course, take an unmissable trip to the top of the Burj Khalifa. 

All in all, the experience was a vibrant and productive one for everyone involved, as both sides were able to share their stories with each other and even some really useful tips.  Our hope is that this programme is just one of many exchange and collaboration facilitations that TELLAL is able to host or participate it moving forward.  The more we work together, the further we will be able to go. 


As we continue to look forward into ways in which we can grow and improve our educational systems, there is no better place to collaborate than BETT MEA.  TELLAL was delighted to participate in this innovative event once again, particularly given the programme and events in the 2019 session.  It was an empowering two days of discussion, revelation and integration, as industry leaders, practitioners, professionals and inventors came together to form and share ideas on how to support learning through technology. 

As the world’s largest education technology portfolio event, BETT MEA plays a vital role in expanding our understanding of educational potential. It is one of the greatest simulants towards learning innovation and a unique opportunity for passionate educators to achieve a common goal of internationalising teaching practices and improving student support. 

This year’s theme was especially poignant for TELLAL as it reflected a question we are striving to answer ourselves; how to build a successful change culture to meet the evolving needs of 21st century citizens.   We understand the uncertainty that faces current and future students, particularly when it comes to the evolution of the job market.  Technology plays a much wider role in how we teach, how we could teach and how it impacts the types of careers our students will ultimately seek.  By working with experts, researchers and inventors, we can heighten our understanding of how technology can be used to improve our educational prowess and how we can use specific elements to expand our learning methodologies.  

Given that technology is at the heart of this two day conference, TELLAL was excited to be showcasing our innovative virtual simulation training programme.  Visitors to our booth were able to interact with this engaging technology and experience the benefits of artificial avatars in advanced learning.

TELLAL also participated in the lively discussions programme, delivering a speech on ‘Global Insights into Mixed Reality Simulation in Education and Beyond: Preparing Leaders Using ‘Human in the Loop’ Technologies.  This allowed our team to share vital insights into how to grow the skills and effectiveness of school leaders for the betterment of their institutions.  It specifically detailed how simulation training offers the most advanced and effective form of training in the market; providing a uniquely safe, realistic and efficient form of practice, feedback and learning.  You can read more about our simulation training and how it benefits leadership skills growth here. 

When we weren’t hosting or speaking, we also got the opportunity to visit with some fantastic exhibitors who had flown in from all over the world. The combination of international and regional participants meant that everyone could see the latest evolutions in educational technology and get a sense of the potential that awaits us in improving standards.  From virtual reality to robots to computer animation and much, much more, there was so much to see, do and interact with.  Overall it was a really informative and inspiring event that shows how to embrace the technological revolution in the most productive ways and target its output to improving learning for students, at all levels.  What could be better than that?

TELLAL Institute enjoyed two days engaging with the UAE’s most senior education leaders at the BETT MEA 2019 conference.
Our keynote on developing leadership skills…

Watch our recent graduates receive their qualifications from Reverend Canon Professor Kenneth Newport – Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic) and Dean of Education at Liverpool…