At Avenor College, one of the key components in co-creating the best future for our students is the implementation of a comprehensive continuous professional development programme for teachers. The quality of teaching is a crucial factor influencing educational success and also impacts the social and emotional development of students. At Avenor, we believe that only well-prepared teachers who are committed to continuous learning can nurture students who are ready for any future.

Some of Avenor’s most experienced teachers have furthered their expertise to become trainers for other educators, driven by the desire to contribute significantly beyond the classroom and among their peers.

In this way, Avenor enhances the quality of education in Romania by sharing teaching and assessment techniques, innovative pedagogical methods, and even teaching procedures developed and tested by our teachers, resulting in excellent outcomes.

Whether they are giving presentations in webinars, serving as trainers, or being invited as speakers at various conferences, Avenor teachers always enthusiastically embrace opportunities to exchange best practices with their colleagues, striving to elevate the level of preparedness for themselves and others.

Avenor and Aspire Teachers

A successful example is the collaboration between Avenor and Aspire Teachers on the #DataMathLab project. Aspire Teachers is an NGO dedicated to the vision of providing every child in Romania with an excellent teacher.

Initiated in 2021, #DataMathLab aims to tackle one of the most significant challenges in Romanian education—mathematical illiteracy, which is the inability of students to apply their school-taught knowledge to solve real-life problems.

“At Avenor, we discovered a significant reservoir of expertise, which addresses the primary issue we face in Romania: the lack of genuine expertise. When I refer to experts in mathematics education, I mean individuals who are connected to international research and practices, who are continually learning, and who are typically the first to acknowledge the limits of their own competence. The best educators understand that there are no universal methods for teaching mathematics; it all depends on context, and they are generally the ones who bring out the best in others.

Therefore, the partnership developed naturally, as Aspire Teachers has been fostering the same continuous growth among teachers, aiming to prepare a generation of children who can think critically and are adapted to the future, not the outdated methods of the past. I was very fortunate to find Dr. Daniela Vasile, who is one of our key contributors to the program. She brings a rare blend of experience in international educational systems, team flexibility, and enthusiasm.

I am pleased that a team of trainers from Avenor will be joining the #DataMathLab programme. By creating mixed teams of teachers from your school and public schools—teachers who are equally open and eager for change but who have a better understanding of the public system’s limits and needs—I believe we can gradually and effectively introduce internationally validated best practices into the public system. This way, we can reach the minds of all children, as they rightfully deserve.

Through the #DataMathLab project, our goal is to impact at least one-third of Romanian teachers over the next decade, growing teams of trainers who continually test, apply, improve, and mentor others. Our target for next year is 200 graduates, then 300, and year by year, we aim to enhance our curriculum, build communities of practice led by our alumni, expand our offerings, and elevate the standards of continuous teacher training. We want to change the perception of “training” so that it no longer triggers the dismissive reaction we’ve often encountered.

Simultaneously, we will constantly measure the programme’s impact because we aim to develop an excellent programme that anticipates the inevitable changes: performance standards for competencies, a national assessment that measures real thinking skills rather than just solving abstract problems by rote, and a more flexible curriculum that allows teachers time to revisit and deepen concepts, which they can then transfer to students.

The most crucial aspect is to attract excellent teachers of mathematics who understand that fostering conceptual understanding is very different from drilling procedures disconnected from real life. These teachers are our most valuable resource, and I hope that in the coming years, the profession will become more appealing and motivating for those passionate about this subject. To achieve this, we aim to collaborate with public institution representatives who support this initiative and recognize that by working together, we all stand to gain.” says Măriuca Morariu, Executive Director of Aspire Teachers and the initiator of the #DataMathLab program.

Dr. Daniela Vasile is a co-leader (creator and trainer) of this programme. She has brought to the Aspire team her extensive national and international experience, which has given her the opportunity to work with teachers from around the world and with various curricula.

After spending 20 years abroad, upon my return home, I asked myself: what can I bring back and how can I contribute? I found a school like those abroad, Avenor College, where teachers and students learn and grow together. I constantly wondered: can we replicate this joy of learning beyond Avenor?

This question, along with my passion for mathematics, led me to Aspire, a place where we aim to reveal the true essence of mathematics. Where did we lose its beauty? Where did we lose the students? We’ve forgotten that mathematics, in its creative process, is inductive; we’ve lost the exploratory and creative process involved in developing mathematical theories. We’ve lost connections to real life, as well as the imaginative aspect of mathematics—the play of ideas.

Our project reinstates these elements through a concept-based planning and teaching model, with the end goal in mind—from the start of the learning unit, I consider what I want the student to know by the end and how I will determine their understanding. Only once these aspects are clear do I begin planning. We must remember that all competencies develop around concepts.

The most rewarding moments in the programme, those that motivate us, are the ‘aha!’ moments from the teachers we work with and the sparkle in their eyes when they present evidence of learning from their classrooms. Every teacher, every morning, enters school with the desire to do their best, to teach students as effectively as they can.

Through our programme, we help them know exactly how to achieve this, and they tell us it works! A particularly proud moment was when a colleague with 35 years of experience, an excellent teacher, told us that this was the best course she had ever attended and the one that helped her the most.” says Daniela Vasile, Director of Learning at Avenor and Teacher of Mathematics.

The collaboration with Aspire Teachers on this project is ongoing, and Avenor is proudly supporting the first #DataMathLab mathematics festival as a partner. The festival will take place from July 6-7 at Andrei Șaguna National College in Brașov, with the theme: How can we motivate students to “see” mathematics beyond formulas and homework?

The event is expected to attract 150 middle and high school teachers, aiming to develop a community of passionate professionals dedicated to transforming the way mathematics is taught and learned in Romania. Registrations for the festival are still open.