Learning from and with Teachers

September 15, 2015

(Photo: Bria Stephens/Center for Inspired Teaching)

This piece was written by Isabel Brodsky, a high school student in Washington, DC and a volunteer at Center for Inspired Teaching. Isabel is the daughter of Inspired Teaching’s Executive Director, Aleta Margolis.

I am a high school senior, and I had the opportunity to intern with Center for Inspired Teaching during the final week of the 2015 BLISS: Building Literacy in the Social Studies and SCALE: Science Curriculum Advancement through Literacy Enhancement summer Institutes.

Walking in on the first day, I felt a wave of energy exuding from the room, before warm-ups had even begun. Music was playing, teachers were catching up from the weekend, and there was a general air of anticipation. As the warm-ups commenced, I was encouraged to participate and immediately drawn into the community. During warm-ups, we greeted each other using our elbows, sang and signed songs, and got our minds and bodies ready to work hard.

Throughout the remainder of the week, I learned about the curriculum writing process, as the BLISS and SCALE Teacher Leaders, with the support and guidance of Inspired Teaching staff, created new, standards-aligned social studies and science curricula for use by their colleagues across the district. I was stunned to see both how much scrutiny was involved and just how much the teachers care about their students. The breadth of hands-on activities the teachers had crafted for their students was remarkable. I found myself wishing that I might be able to experience these lessons as a student.

In my opinion, the most important activities that I observed during the BLISS and SCALE Institutes were those that were intended to remind teachers of what it is like to be a student. One day, the teachers were instructed to write down both pleasant and unpleasant memories from their time as students. Another day, the teachers engaged in role-playing exercises to practice explaining the shift to inquiry-based teaching to their students. This commitment to empathy and understanding among teachers was, for me, the most striking aspect of my experience.

Interning with Center for Inspired Teaching was a very rewarding experience. I have learned a great deal about the curriculum crafting process, and I have gained a newfound respect for the work that teachers do, which I will carry with me into my senior year.

Learn more about BLISS and SCALE, two year-round, district wide Inspired Teaching partnerships with DC Public Schools to build student achievement and transform instruction in social studies and science by training cohorts of Teacher Leaders to become Instigators of Thought; write inquiry-based, standards-aligned curricula; and lead professional development for their peers across DC Public Schools. Lessons written by BLISS and SCALE Teacher Leaders are key components of DCPS’ new Cornerstones Initiative.

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