Inspired Teachers Emerging: A Year in the Residency Program

Jéri Ogden works with the Inspired Teaching Residency, providing classroom-based support to Inspired Teaching Fellows and collaborating with lead teachers and coaches to ensure successful program completion. She believes that education is an act of social justice and is proud to usher the next group of changemakers into the fight.

This year, Center for Inspired Teaching is celebrating ten years of teacher certification! We began this work in 2009 when we petitioned OSSE (DC’s state education agency) to accept us as the first non-profit organization accredited to license new teachers. Obviously we were successful, and this year’s Residency Program Cohort has proven to be a mighty addition to that legacy.

 Engagement and Bonding

The 2018 Cohort officially began their Inspired Teaching journey last July as we all spent three and a half weeks together for our Summer Institute at Capital City Public Charter School. This is always the point in the program when accepted applicants truly become Fellows. And it quickly became evident that this particular group was a wonderful combination of people who would support one another fiercely while challenging each other respectfully.

We learned about Thomas’ love for Ultimate Frisbee, Brian’s passion for all things DC sports-related, and Amanda’s encyclopedic knowledge of camp songs and games. We learned about Caroline’s experience studying in Finland, Annie’s customer service skills and how they could transfer into the classroom, and Zana’s and Sabria’s shared yet different experiences within the same tutoring program. We witnessed how motherhood is shaping Asha’s and Melissa’s ideas about education, and how Julia’s background as a native Washingtonian has informed her deep connection to the educational arena this Cohort would soon be entering.

At Summer Institute, we had our first debates about the far-reaching impact of gender and race on young children’s lives, and we discussed the power of play and the subtle art of classroom management. Throughout each day, our Fellows challenged and affirmed each other’s ideas. They came in every morning ready to fully engage and ended every day in thoughtful reflection. It was a time of setting the foundation for their careers as Inspired Teachers.

A Year of Firsts

We saw that foundation growing sturdier and stronger this past fall as the 2018 Cohort moved into their classrooms for the year. They jumped right in by observing their Lead Teachers and asking questions about unit plans, setting up the classroom, and engaging with students’ families. They worked really hard to establish relationships with each of their students while also honing their teacher voice and presence. They found their way through staff and grade-level meetings, back-to-school nights, and parent-teacher conferences — and, of course, their first experience of that challenging day after Halloween.

Our 2018 Fellows also faced their first formal CLASS (Classroom Assessment Scoring System) observations. As we all expected, there were a lot of nerves and questions about what those scores would mean for their status in the program. But after all of the observations were complete, it turned out there was nothing to worry about. We’re proud to say that this year’s Cohort boasted scores that were higher than the national average!

As the second half of the school year kicked off, the Fellows had to juggle their coursework at Trinity Washington University with increased responsibility in their classrooms. They met this challenge head on. Their classrooms have become vibrant hubs of student-centered, joyful learning experiences. When there was critical feedback, they received it with grace. That came as no surprise to us, since we’ve seen from the beginning how eager they are to gain a better understanding of ways to improve their practice. When they’ve dropped the ball, they’ve owned up to their mistakes and reconciled relationships. Their year of Residency hasn’t been an easy journey, but each member of this Cohort has embraced it with open arms. They have truly trusted the process.

Preparing for Launch

During these final weeks of the 2018-19 school year, our Fellows are busy updating their resumes, going on interviews, and working to secure a teaching position for the coming school year. We’re proud (again!) that each of these remarkable young people has been accepted to the highly competitive DCPS Teacher Applicant Pool. Thanks to their unique individual talents backed with their strong group identity as part of the Cohort, they’ve already touched hundreds of dozens of DC children’s lives — and they’re ready for more. Between the challenges of teaching in a diverse urban community and the imperatives of professional development and personal growth that drive an educator’s life, these Inspired Teachers are poised to make a real difference. The next phase of their journey looks bright.

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