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Dr. Anna Choi Collaborates with Teach For All to Strengthen Students' Social and Emotional Skills

Anna Choi - Pepperdine School of Public Policy

Dr. Anna Choi, James Q. Wilson Visiting Professor at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, continues to collaborate with Teach For All on the work of social and emotional skills development of students and the role of teaching practices. Teach For All is a global organization of more than 50 independent, locally-led and governed partner organizations, working to accelerate the progress of the network. Each partner organization recruits and develops promising future leaders to teach in their nations’ under-resourced schools and communities and to work with others to ensure all children are able to fulfill their potential.

Teach For All's world vision is community engagement enabling children to have the education, support, and opportunity they need to shape a brighter future.

Choi has been working on an evaluation stufdy for Teach For All to provide comments and recommendations for the Teach For All network partner, Teach For Bulgaria. The aim of this study is to examine to what extent participants (teachers) of Teach For Bulgaria contribute to strengthening the social and emotional skills of students, as well as identify innovative education practices teachers use. The study involved a survey of students in grades 1 to 12 and a survey among teachers and school leaders. The sample included 80 Teach For Bulgaria participants with more than 1,000 students and 90 comparison classrooms with approximately 1,400 students. Choi provided comments during the fall of 2018 when the instrument development and pilot studies were taking place. Recently, she reviewed and provided recommendations on the Interim Evaluation Report.

During the instrument development process, Choi reviewed and commented on the framework of forms, variables, and items for the non-cognitive skill instruments produced by Research & Evaluation International. Subsequently she commented on the draft items, draft pilot tests, administration procedures, and the pilot student opinion survey results. The interim report found that Teach For Bulgaria teachers are significantly more likely to be active in seeking professional growth and supporting their schools.

Choi suggested different methods and analysis to consider for the final evaluation report for Teach For Bulgaria, which was published in December 2019. Findings from the report suggest that Teach For Bulgaria teachers employ successful teaching practices in the classroom compared to the comparison group of teachers based on external review and observation. Teach For Bulgaria teachers were more likely to promote student collaboration, challenge, communicate with, and encourage their students to work hard. However, results show limited evidence on the impact on students’ social and emotional skills development during the 2018-2019 academic year for both the control and treatment groups. This could be due to the fact that most students had one class with Teach For Bulgaria teachers and may not have been sufficient exposure to yield measurable impacts on social and emotional skills.

As found in the Teach For Bulgaria's final report, training teachers to engage in practices that captivates and encourages students while promoting collaboration, stimulates a student's interests to learn. Although the findings on social and emotional skills were not significant during this one-year intervention, the results and academic outcomes can differentiate when schools expand the exposure and duration of such teaching practices in the classrooms.