A Thrilling Summer

This piece by Jane Ehrenfeld, Inspired Teaching’s Executive Director, appeared in Inspired Teaching’s August 2017 newsletter. 

As I traveled between Inspired Teaching’s summer programs, I felt energized by the sights and sounds of engaged, enthusiastic learners working together. From our work with in-service to pre-service teachers to young students, relationships are front and center.

The summer Intensive brought together experienced teachers from seven schools in DC and for the first time, included teachers from three schools in Montgomery County, thanks to a generous grant from the Kellogg Foundation. The teachers brought their own unique experiences and expertise to the table and discovered that despite their work in different schools, districts and grade levels, they also had a lot in common. It was wonderful to see them bond as a cohort as they challenged and inspired each other throughout the program.

At the Residency Institute, the 2017 Fellows also came together from a wide range of backgrounds. The 19 Fellows include recent college graduates, young professionals, and career-changers. Many of our fellows have already experience working with students in a variety of places from Washington, D.C. to Mexico. Others are excited to bring their skills from other fields, including military service, real estate, and event planning. Throughout the Institute they take their first steps toward becoming Inspired Teachers, as they bond as a cohort, learn innovative strategies for engaging students, and develop their own teaching philosophies.

Led by our second-year Fellows, students at the Summer School at Capital City Public Charter School completed innovative STEM projects to solve real life problems. The Celebration of Learning provided students of all ages the opportunity to show off their work. The Pre-K students learned about engineering through their study of fairy tales. After a close read of The Three Little Pigs and a discussion of the architectural principles that the books brings up, they  built houses that were strong enough to withstand the big bad wolf. The second graders studied animals to find features of animal bodies that could solve everyday problems. They then designed prototypes for new inventions that would solve these. From the sticky gecko fingers to help humans climb more efficiently to a chameleon’s eye camera lens that could capture images from a wide variety of angles, every invention was the product of careful thought and consideration.

Everywhere I looked this summer I found joyful students and teachers proudly sharing their experiences observing and thinking creatively about their surroundings. In each of our programs, participants tackle challenges together with excitement and curiosity. The creative teamwork that I observed has been a great reminder that there are endless opportunities to use imagination and intellect to solve everyday problems. As you enjoy the end of your summer, I hope you challenge yourself to seek out these exciting opportunities!

Every summer, more educators join the movement of Inspired Teachers. Together, they develop the skills of Instigators of Thought who advocate for joy, inquiry, and authentic engagement. You can join the movement too by advocating for engagement-based education for every student. Your help enables Inspired Teachers to thrive in their classrooms and communities.

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