PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details
Our expert staff of teacher educators engages hundreds of teachers, in Washington, DC & other metro areas, in the Inspired Teaching Institute each year. The Institute is our year-long personalized coaching program for Teacher Leaders that kicks off with a 2 to 3 week summer intensive and follows with monthly classes and monthly in-classroom coaching sessions. Through the Inspired Teaching Institute, we challenge teachers to ignite their own imaginations and intellectual curiosity so they can do the same for students. The Inspired Teaching Institute is taught by our staff and Inspired Teaching mentors, who bring, collectively, over 300 years of teaching experience to the work of transforming teachers into Instigators of Thought in their classrooms.
INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.
Movements that celebrate learning-through-play and learning-by-doing are erupting across the US and across disciplines, communities, and fields of study-- from Maker Faires to GoldieBlox to tinkering camps. At the same time, researchers such as Mitchel Resnick, Alison Gopnik and Stuart Brown are giving the movement credibility and heft through their research studies, reports, or books. Between the grass-roots movement and the accompanying research work validating the value of serious play, the time is ripe to take this movement mainstream.
LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?
We believe that every child possesses the ability to engage in serious play: to think critically, learn and understand information, and solve complex problems—and that students should spend their time in school engaged in serious play. We teach teachers how to make this happen through our Wonder-Experiment-Learn Cycle in which students build their own expertise by asking questions that are important to them (Wonder), engage with those questions to see what they can figure out (Experiment), make discoveries that deepen their understanding (Learn).
SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.
Inspired Teaching’s revenue stream for FY 2013-14 is as follows:
43% from foundations
33% earned income from school districts and other vendors
12% from corporate partners and individual donors
6% from government grants
6% from other sources
MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?
Our mission is to create seismic, sustainable change in the school experience for students by investing in teachers. A nonprofit, we partner with school districts, AmeriCorps, the DC state education office, and private foundations, enabling us to create sustainable change from within the system while building a broad base of support for change.
FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?
We have begun the process of codifying our teaching pedagogy, toward our ultimate goal of shifting the norm in all schools. Twenty thousand dollars in unrestricted funding would enable us to finish codifying the core principles of Inspired Teaching and to start disseminating our pedagogy beyond DC.
PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.
Inspired Teaching has sustained a partnership with the DC Public Schools over nearly 20 years, during which we have worked with 10 superintendents. This partnership has allowed us to cultivate Inspired Teachers in classrooms throughout the school system. We partner with other school districts as well and with AmeriCorps and universities to help spread our model strategically, and we are a part of Ashoka’s Changemaker Schools Network.
COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.
Inspired Teaching is engaged in conversations with Jennifer Breevort with Pop-Up Play and six others within the Ashoka network about our project. We will invite those who are in the mid-Atlantic region to visit our Demonstration School as a first step in exploring partnership opportunities.
VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?
Going to school will be like going to work in a NASA lab. All students will have real responsibility; make important decisions; look for answers when they need new information; play; experiment; take risks; learn from failures; and return home each day exhausted and exhilarated from their accomplishments, and eager to return to school the next day to continue to engage in serious play.
IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time
Inspired Teaching uses the CLASS™ observation tool to gauge the strength of the teaching practice of those whom we train. CLASS™ provides us a picture of our teachers’ ability to 1- engage students in high-quality learning; 2- cultivate a classroom that is positive and responsive; 3- organize the classroom around effective instruction.
We assess our teachers' classrooms twice a year using CLASS™.
The attachments share more details.
APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.
Physical Play, Creating a Supportive Socio-Emotional Environment, Educational Structuring (developing playful projects within educational contexts), Adults Participating (Ensuring adults are able to play alongside children), Challenging Play (play that disrupts - where rules are disregarded and levels of imagination are high).
AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.
Our Demonstration School is an Ashoka Changemaker School, and we have been introduced to the LEGO Group by Ashoka.