What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Inspired Teaching has trained hundreds of teachers to institute new rituals, practices, and active learning opportunities in their classrooms. Both DCPS and Baltimore City have requested our training for their teachers district-wide.
Survey data indicates that teachers believe our training impacted their teaching philosophy and made them more effective in creating a respectful and productive classroom community. Since taking our training, 82% of teachers say students are more engaged in class; 94% developed skills for using engaging instructional strategies; 86% developed inquiry-based teaching, critical thought and problem solving skills.
One participant, echoing the feeling of many, said, "Inspired Teaching allowed me to see the importance of releasing the power in my classroom to my students and allowing them a stronger voice."
In launching a public charter school, we have also created a demonstration school where outside audiences can see empathetic classrooms in action.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
We are striving to effect a broad change in the role of the teacher so that the norm is no longer a teacher who stands at the front of the room and provides information to students, rewards them when they’re compliant, and punishes them when they’re not. In the coming years we expect the norm to begin to shift so more and more teachers will be Instigators of Thought, who treat students with respect and teach them how to think, not just what to think.
We are doing this through:
1- District partnerships in Baltimore City and Washington, DC,
2- Developing a train-the-trainers model with a strong teacher leadership component, and
3- Continuing our support of creating a school-wide culture of empathy in the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
Our model works to activate empathy inside the classroom, creating a culture for both teachers and students. A challenge for us is that students' home environments do not necessarily reinforce these lessons and some parents question the restorative justice model used at the school for discipline. We support students as they navigate these approaches and develop their own practices.
Another challenge to the creation of a school-wide empathetic culture is that it takes a long time to master all elements of this model: teachers need to learn lesson planning, instruction, assessment, classroom management, and building students' self-discipline. Incorporating all these practices on a consistent basis can be challenging but we provide ongoing mentoring and practicums to support our teachers.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Formalize our Teacher Leadership Program, empowering teachers to train their peers to build empathy-activating classrooms.
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Our Teacher Leadership Program will be implemented across all of our programs including to at least one new district partner.
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
Aleta Margolis taught a playwriting course to high school students in the juvenile justice system in DC. At first, few of her students were interested in reading or writing, and most said they hated school. By the end, students had written, produced, and performed a play about DC, the city’s demise from drugs and violence and its rediscovery in the year 3000 by archaeologists who uncovered artifacts ranging from currency to crack cocaine. After the performance, the cast spoke with the audience on what might have been done to save DC back in 1989. Every student wrote, read, sang, acted, contributed. They loved what they were doing, but still hated reading and writing in school because it 'didn’t matter'. Aleta began to suspect that if her students had experienced a different kind of teaching in school, and had been offered work that was important to them, they wouldn’t have ended up in the juvenile justice system. She became a teacher, and went on to found Center for Inspired Teaching.