Changemakers in Action 2018

What does it mean to be a changemaker?

On Tuesday, Inspired Teaching had a fabulous evening celebrating Changemakers in Action at the National Museum of American History. Local education leaders, community members, and educators to discovered how Inspired Teachers and students in our 2017-18 programs are changemakers in their schools, communities, and society. Throughout the evening, guests learned about the importance of authentic engagement from all angles. We were proud to present our new white paper which describes the urgent need to make engagement-based education the new norm: The critical need for replacing compliance-based teaching with engagement-based teaching.

It was an honor to feature remarks from the DCPS Chief of Equity, Bren Elliot, who thoughtfully expressed how her experience attending Inspired Teaching’s Speak Truth Program was eye-opening, saying, “Young people were the teachers that day and I left there so inspired by both the potential of our young people to lead and with the realization that I have to step up my game as a teacher because young people were teaching me so much. And shouldn’t that be what happens in education?”

Bren Elliot then introduced two student speakers, Dimilah, a junior at Ballou High School, and Julian, a senior at Georgetown Day School, who both spoke eloquently and passionately. Their reflections on how Inspired Teaching’s youth programming has engaged them in transformative conversations and learning experiences were a true highlight of the evening.

“From my experience, society feels divided, by class, race, and even by school. Educational opportunities need to bring people together to relate to one another. That is what I have experienced with Real World History. By diversifying the people I interact with, I’ve discovered that being a changemaker is about breaking barriers and bridging these societal divides.”
Ballou High School & Real World History Student
1st Place Winner for Individual Exhibit
at National History Day

During the evening, Teacher Leaders in the Institute, Fellows graduating from the Residency, and students in Real World History all shared their accomplishments from the past school year.

Inspired Teacher Leaders presented how they incorporate student-driven and engagement-based initiatives into their school communities. One Inspired Teacher Leader, Malcolm Poole, the Behavior Intervention Manager at the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School, focused on incorporating peer mediation into the middle school discipline efforts. Malcolm brought two enthusiastic students who shared how serving as peer mentors has helped them grow and support their entire community. Throughout the year, Malcolm, like his fellow Inspired Teacher Leaders, influence their schools to emphasize more authentic engagement and student voice.

Inspired Teaching Fellows highlighted how they act as changemakers from within their classrooms by using research to enhance their practice. As Fellows presented action research projects, it was clear how passionate the teachers are about crafting engagement-based classrooms. Each Fellow chose a topic that related to authentic engagement to fully explore. Their research topics covered a variety of themes, ranging from The Impact of Yoga and Meditative Breathing on the Behavior of Kindergarten Students to Using Self-Regulation Strategies to Increase Math Confidence and Achievement. The Fellows proudly shared how their findings contribute to the field.

The evening also showcased how young people, with the right tools and experiences, grow as critical thinkers and active citizens. Real World History students demonstrated how they put theory to practice and bring history to life through their internships at historical sites across DC, including the National Museum of American History who generously hosted us for the evening.

One student, Cheyenne, demonstrated how the Real World History course gave her the freedom to build on her passion and experiences. As a part of the course, each student participated in National History Day, a city-wide competition. Cheyenne chose to craft her exhibit on African American Entrepreneurship in Georgetown to complement her internship experience at Tudor Place and further explore her interest in business. Her exhibit specifically underscores the story of John Luckett, a formerly enslaved man who gained his freedom working at Tudor Place.

Laura Brandt, Cheyenne’s internship supervisor, explains how Cheyenne blossomed as she directed her own learning and research at Tudor Place. “Cheyenne grew tremendously this semester—as a scholar, historian, and person. Especially in her research of John Luckett, an escaped slave who was employed as a gardener at Tudor Place during the Civil War, Cheyenne proved herself an adept social historian. Her choice was particularly meaningful because studying someone who isn’t as explored in national narratives can help students discover the ways in which ‘ordinary’ people are extraordinary. You realize that anyone can make a difference.”

At Changemakers in Action, it was clear that, like Cheyenne, Inspired Teachers and students are empowered to make a difference as fierce advocates for authentic engagement. In the hands of these remarkable young people and passionate educators, we excited for the future of engagement-based education.

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