Grantmakers for Education – Teacher Engagement Toolkit


Collective Invention created a toolkit for Grantmakers for Education to provide funders with strategies and tools to effectively develop and sustain teacher engagement throughout their reform initiatives.


Funders have much to learn about the environment in which teachers work. The teacher engagement toolkit was designed to help grantmakers understand ways to learn from teachers, build engagement strategies, and design collaborative approaches to help create a framework that more deeply engages teachers in the design, planning and implementation of education reform and innovation.

Teachers, funders and experts all agree that teachers have classroom and school site expertise. Yet too often, funders fail to leverage this expertise when designing education reforms and classroom initiatives. As a result, their initiatives may lack both relevance and context— two critical components for teacher engagement and sustainability over time. Without teacher buy-in and connection to the practical realities of teaching, any new practice or approach will not take hold. A teacher’s belief in, and adoption of, any new initiative is directly tied to whether or not an idea succeeds, regardless of its merit.


Through our research process, we sought a balanced approach to perspectives from different stakeholder groups—from funders, experts and teachers. We were particularly attuned to understanding the teachers’ perspective. As we engaged with teachers through focus and design groups, we asked them to construct guidelines for effectively engaging teachers.

Guided by a committee comprised of funders from large and small foundations, the toolkit includes principles for engaging teachers and a starter set of tools that were developed based on a series of interviews with experts in the field—key thinkers and actors who focus on the teaching profession and the practice of teaching—and several focus group and design sessions with teachers.


The toolkit was completed in December, 2013 and contains a set of tools to assist organizations in identifying and planning for appropriate teacher engagement approaches to their reform initiatives. Organizational examples are provided and are intended to promote knowledge sharing among funders. The toolkit contains the following three sets of tools:

Decision Support Tools
Tools to support decision-making on the best teacher engagement strategies for your organization and which teachers to work with

Communications Tools
A set of tools to define your strategy, communicate the value to your Board, and protocols for relationship building with teachers

Process Support Tools
Process tools with feedback on how information is used and decisions are made, the timing of initiatives in the school year, interviewing techniques, “High Empathy” Grantmaking support tools, and evaluation protocols to assess the success of the strategy or strategies


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