Christine Nasserghodsi joins TELLAL as UAE VP

TELLAL welcomes its first Vice President of UAE Operations, Christine Nasserghodsi…

Christine Nasserghodsi is a leader in innovation, technology, education and organisational transformation. Prior to joining TELLAL, Christine was the Head of Innovation Strategy at GEMS Education where she worked as the GEMS Project Director on the groundbreaking Creating Communities of Innovation project with Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She has been an advisor for schools, international companies and government agencies in the United States, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and has delivered design-thinking training to entrepreneurs, educators and the UAE Prime Minister’s Office.

Christine joins TELLAL in the newly created role of VP of UAE Operations and, as such, is the lead for professional learning and development, educational research and strategic partnerships for UAE schools. Christine joins the team at an interesting time when Teacher Competence is just getting underway.

We took some time to find out a bit more about Christine and her work at TELLAL…

Christine, can you tell us a bit about your previous work with GEMS and Harvard’s Project Zero?

Creating Communities of Innovation (CCI) is a research project run by GEMS, TELLAL and Harvard’s Project Zero. It is focused on building skills for inquiry driven innovation. The project was founded in 2015 with the intent of clarifying what it meant to be an innovation leader, how to build the dispositions and skills to engage in, test and scale innovation on the school and network level, and how to create and leverage design and research-driven communities of practice. Now under the leadership of TELLAL, CCI is beginning its third year with the launch of our second cohort. We are excited to welcome 15 schools in the next research cycle.

What led you to TELLAL?

The world is changing rapidly – and education will need to change as well. Foresight is essential to understanding how education should change; human-centred design is essential to understanding that education can change; and learning is at the heart of change. Through learning, teachers, school leaders and students are better equipped to anticipate the future and to thrive amidst uncertainty. Developing people is the key to innovation. It was this belief that led me to join TELLAL, the region’s foremost teacher and leader development institute. Given our strategic partnerships with GEMS Education, universities, governments, industry and the technology sector, we have an almost unprecedented opportunity to build professional learning is a way that is truly transformative.

I am a third generation educator: my grandmother taught in New York City Public Schools for more than 50 years; my mother was a reading specialist and my father was a professor of philosophy. I believe that leading learning is the best job in the world and that everyone supporting the learning process should be treasured.

Why was the VP of UAE Operations role created and what is your remit at TELLAL?

The belief I have shared above is echoed by schools and governments around the world. As such, TELLAL is well-positioned to grow and the UAE is being focused on as a Centre of Excellence, or model for future growth. The VP of UAE Operations role was developed with that in mind, along with the Head of the Leadership Academy, Head of Commercial, and Head of Internal Quality Management and Start-Ups. The TELLAL Team and I will be focused on deepening our work within the UAE with an emphasis on additional leadership programmes and qualifying programmes for teachers, supporting teachers and school leaders through the competence process, engaging in research and development, teacher development, and building an additional pillar focused on innovation and school improvement.

Where do you think you’ll have the biggest impact at TELLAL?

TELLAL really is a team and we are focused on collective impact. As our team grows, so too do our capabilities. We contribute to education in the UAE on many levels, which is why we have such close ties to the regulators. We are helping to create a pipeline of high impact, joyful teachers and school leaders who understand the context of the UAE and are living their dream. The UAE is growing in global recognition and, at TELLAL, we have been able to create an interesting intersection of learning, technology, research and expert practitioners.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing education in the UAE?

Challenge and opportunity are two sides of the same coin. The UAE has set forth ambitious targets for teacher and leader competence that are reflective of the national agenda. We are providing expertise to support schools through the process in a way that is efficient and enriching.

What personal goals have you set for the first 12 months of your new role?

I’ve just started my doctorate, at the University of Pennsylvania, on organisational learning with a focus on innovation and the future of work. I am eager to incorporate the learnings from this into my role. Mindful of that, and the transition into a new role, I am focused on work-life balance. Most mornings, I leave the house at about 5:30am to run on the beach and engage in mindfulness meditation before coming into work. This early start also allows me to be fully present with my 10 and 12-year-old sons (students at GEMS FirstPoint School) when I return home.

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