Teachers gather in Brasilia to show what is possible when united through learning circles

published 26 July 2023 updated 17 August 2023

On the 25th and 26th of July 2023, the Teacher-led Learning Circles for Formative Assessment project held an in-person seminar in collaboration with the Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Educação (CNTE) for all participants based in Brazil. The meeting, held in Brasilia, was a powerful representation of what teachers can do when they come together, united through their participation in learning circles.

On the first day of the seminar, following a series of presentations by union officials, national researchers and the education international team, teachers participating in the project explained their wide-ranging expectations for the meeting and the project. Teachers in classrooms based in the northeast expressed that “in this programme you are allowed to respect the cognitive development of individual students” whilst another teacher from Tocantins spoke of the event being the only place they could learn about the reality of indigenous schools and Quilombolo schools.

During the time allocated for discussion, it was made clear that the contrast between rural indigenous and Quilombolo schools, where a significant number of students get up at 5 am to get to school, and urban schools from San Paolo cannot be underestimated. An indigenous teacher during the session asked, “How is it possible that indigenous children who do not speak the Portuguese language go through the same evaluation as native speakers of the language?" emphasising the importance of the project for developing context specific practice that joins together “pedagogical activism and indigenous activism.”

On the second day of the seminar, the activities turned to the work being developed by teachers in their schools to meet the unique needs of learners in their classrooms. The teachers were separated into three rooms according to their circles and were able to present to their colleagues the work they had produced as part of the project. During these sessions, it was noted that teachers were at different stages in their thinking and practice, while some presented their initial ideas, others spoke to how they had consulted peers and created action plans. However, all the teachers were clear on the purpose of their work and how it would be carried out.

At the end of the final day of the seminar, teachers engaged in a final evaluative activity, where they expressed that they had gained companionship, knowledge, growth and understanding from the meeting and their Teacher-led Learning Circle for Formative Assessment experience.

The efforts people made to participate in the two-day seminar were particularly poignant and cannot go unmentioned. Four teachers from Mato Grosso had been docked pay for coming to union delivered Professional Learning and Development by the local administration. However, they pointed out that teacher and student learning were more important and that they would keep fighting. The teachers recognised the unwavering support they had got from the union to continue their participation, and all expressed their commitment to do so despite intersecting challenges.

Photos from the seminar are available to be accessed here, a second news item on the presentations given by researchers, union officials and EI to open the meeting can be read here, and a news item written by CNTE about the event is available to view here.

Want to find out more? Continue to keep up to date with project activities in Brazil as well as developments across our six other project countries by visiting our dedicated project page.