From Teacher to Foundation Teaching Fellow: 8 Questions with Meenoo Rami

8 questions meenoo rami
8 QUESTIONS is a series of interviews with teachers who have effectively transitioned their classroom skills into new and exciting careers in the field of education. We at believe that teaching is a rigorous and diverse classroom in and of itself; the skills learned “in the trenches” can translate into an exciting portfolio of professional options. From education tech to consulting, the only “X factor” is where you want to go — our interviews hope to shine a light on the steps it takes to get there.

1. What’s your name, location, current profession?

8 questions meenoo rami

My name is Meenoo Rami (@meenoorami; In July 2015, I started a two-year commitment to serve as a Teaching Fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. As a Teaching Fellow, I’m working on initiatives that bring teachers together to learn from each other and strengthen their practice. The teaching fellow is a new role at the foundation—I’m only the second fellow in the foundation’s College Ready Education program—but I’m enjoying working closely with teachers and sharing their feedback with my colleagues at the foundation to help them understand what teachers want.

2. Where did you earn your teaching certification and where did you go to school?

I received my bachelor’s degree at Bradley University in Illinois and got my M.S. in Education and teaching certification from Temple University.

3. How long were you a teacher for?

I taught my students high school English for the past 10 years in Philadelphia.

5. Why did you decide to transition from classroom teaching to your current work?

I decided that after a decade in the classroom, I wanted to learn about other aspects of teaching and learning. I was particularly curious about how philanthropy and classroom experience can merge to better support the great work teachers are doing for their students around the country.

6. What is the best part of your current job?

The best part of my role as a Teaching Fellow is that I am still very much connected to teachers. I have ongoing conversations with teachers to better understand their individual and collective experiences and what supports they need. I get to bring this learning back to my team and use it to help shape the foundation’s strategy.

7. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel in your current profession?

Problem-solving, resiliency, and empathy are integral no matter what you vocation might pursue. I think when we aim to understand how the decisions we make in an organization or in a classroom affect teachers or students, then we can do a better job of serving them.

8. What advice would you offer a current teacher who is looking to make a career change to outside of the classroom?

Be clear about your goals, be patient, and find ways to connect and learn from others who are doing the work you'd like to do.

Meenoo Rami (@MeenooRami) is a national board certified teacher, the author of Thrive, and the founder of #engchat, an international Twitter chat for English teachers. She has shared her classroom practice at various conferences, as a consultant for the Philadelphia Writing Project and The Educator Collaborative, and as an instructor in Arcadia University’s Connected Learning Certificate Program.

Meenoo is currently on a two-year assignment as a teaching fellow with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she is working to help teachers refine their practice through collaboration.


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