On May 25th we celebrated Inspired Teachers’ and Inspired students’ accomplishments at our end of year celebration, Changemakers in Action, at President Lincoln’s Cottage. The event was a true culmination and celebration of the meaningful work Inspired Teachers and Inspired students engage in throughout the year. The evening began with a panel about what it means to be an Inspired Teacher, facilitated by Founder and President Aleta Margolis.
During the panel discussion, Inspired Teacher Leader Jan Schuettpelz (‘15) described that she sought out Inspired Teaching when she was “stuck in a rut” in her teaching. The Inspired Teaching Institute re-energized Jan’s teaching practice by helping her put her “own spin on things” and craft more meaningful questions. According to Jan, the Institute was “life changing.” This year, as DCPS Teacher of the Year, Jan encourages stakeholders in DC to look differently at teaching and showcases the skills of an Inspired Teacher in her classroom. Jan explained that visitors have come to her classroom asking for her to help them become an Inspired Teacher. What makes Jan’s classroom special is that her students take ownership of the classroom and take responsibility for creating a learning environment that is filled with joy.
Inspired Teaching Fellow Mickey Bryant (‘11) is intentional in his teaching practice; he described that he always works to find the “why” or reasoning for his beliefs and actions as a teacher. Mickey asserted that “the only limits students have are those adults put on them.” Now, Mickey uses his influence as the winner of this year’s DCPS Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teaching and as the winner of the TNTP Fishman Prize to work towards changing adults’ mindsets. Mickey shared, “when I think about being a changemaker, I think about breaking down systemic barriers.”
Throughout the event, 2015 Fellows thoughtfully demonstrated how they use research to inform their practice as teachers and changemakers. The Fellows’ dedication to their research was contagious; they each chose a specific topic related to inquiry and engagement in the classroom that they wished to explore further. Their research topics spanned from the effects of mindfulness curricula on students’ moods and self regulation to maximizing learning time in cooperative small groups. After a semester delving into research, the 2015 Fellows became experts in their respective topics and shared their culminating projects with guests.
The 2016 Inspired Teacher Leaders engaged visitors in activities from the Inspired Teaching Institute, asking people to reflect on their own education experiences, and how and Inspired Teaching education is different. Guests were able to truly experience what authentic engagement-based teaching looks and feels like first hand.
Real World History students energized the room as they shared lessons from their internship experiences at historical sights around DC. After winning first place in the group performance at DC’s National History Day competition in April, three Real World History students performed an updated version of their performance in anticipation of the National History Day National Contest in June. Inspired by the contest’s theme, Taking a Stand in History, the Real World History Students incorporated songs and original poetry to connect the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to Black Lives Matter.
We asked guests to reflect on their experience during the evening, including pondering the question, what skills do you see in Real World History students that took you until adulthood to learn? In response, numerous guests explained they were impressed by the students’ skills of risk-taking and bravery.
The entire evening was a celebration of the ways in which teachers and students empower themselves to create change in their classrooms, schools, and communities. As changemakers, Inspired Teachers and their students are leading the way towards a new vision of engagement-based schools.