Last January, teacher Daniele Manni, one of the two Italian finalists (the other was teacher Daniela Boscolo) at the Global Teacher Prize (the “Nobel” for education) wrote a letter to Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi and to the minister of Education Stefania Giannini asking to take “concrete action” to elevate the status of the teaching profession in Italy, not only by granting a higher pay but also by putting under the spotlight all the cases of excellence in teaching and all the examples of extraordinary teachers, to let them be widely known, recognized and possibly rewarded.
Specifically on the latter issue, 16-year old students of the 3a A at the Istituto Galilei Costa in Lecce (Puglia) have launched a project called “MasterProf – No ordinary teachers”. The project, coordinated by their teacher, the same Prof. Manni and his colleague Prof. Elisabetta D’Errico, is a new website with the aim of scouting and telling the stories of extraordinary Italian teachers, capable of bringing innovation into teaching and of opening the minds of their students well beyond the classroom walls and the conventional idea of teaching.
Creativity and novelty would be their hallmark; at the same time, this is not a competition: MasterProf draws inspiration from the Global Teacher Prize but doesn’t have a jury, a deadline for submissions, finalists or winners: all stories are valuable as long as they’re about excellent teaching and they will all be published in the website. Students – but also parents, school managers, friends – from all over Italy can submit the story of their “extraordinary” teacher, or teachers can promote themselves, on www.masterprof.it. The traits the website is looking for are innovative methods and practices, awards, mind-opening activities, initiatives to shape the future world citizens, to make teaching accessible and to engage communities.
“We’ve read the stories of the 50 finalists of the Global Teacher Prize”, say the students of the third high school grade, section A, of the Istituto Galilei Costa, “and we were fascinated. We came up with this idea so we could hunt for all the super-teachers in Italy, tell their stories and make them celebrated. Our start-up has two main goals: reward the best teachers who put all their passion into teaching and give an incentive to all teachers to emulate the best practices. Maybe one day the Ministry of Education will use MasterProf to reward the top Italian teachers. Meanwhile we are looking for sponsors to support our initiative”.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has unveiled recently a comprehensive education reform (the so-called “Good School” bill) that he said would raise the quality of Italian schools and wants to introduce, among other things, a merit bonus for teachers to be awarded by the principals.