Educators for Change: Supporting the Transformative Role of Teachers in Contexts of Mass Displacement

Education in contexts affected by mass displacement is typified by political instability, the marginalization of refugee learners, and a lack of education resources, including learning spaces, relevant curricular materials, and mechanisms for accreditation of learning that takes place outside formal education institutions. In these situations, teachers often become students’ most powerful and inspirational education resource. This paper stems from a qualitative study of how Syrian refugee and Lebanese teachers understand “future education” in the context of the protracted crisis in Lebanon. Drawing from Aronowitz and Giroux’s concept of transformative intellectuals, we argue that transformative approaches to professional development can enable teachers to capitalize on their local knowledge, professional abilities, and creativity to create spaces in which learners feel they have greater control over their lives and can envision a better future. We propose a transformative model for teacher professional development that is based on the ideal learning space envisioned by teachers in a refugee context and on a critical understanding of their existing learning environment. The intention is to support teachers to reshape the learning environments in which they work in ways which are closer to their imagined ideal. The use of available digital technologies enabled these teachers to create spaces in which they could harness and share the transformative education practices already in place and facilitate change through massive open online collaborations.


The authors discuss their work in the Behind the Pages podcast episode embedded below:

Resource Info

Resource Type

Journal Article


Published by

Journal on Education in Emergencies (JEiE)

Authored by

Tejendra Pherali, Mai Abu Moghli, and Elaine Chase


Forced Displacement