The Inspired Teaching Approach
Center for Inspired Teaching envisions a future in which every person is prepared to thrive in and contribute to our complex and rapidly changing world, through an education that teaches students how to think.
Inspired Teaching transforms the preK-12 school system by cultivating changemaking educators who authentically engage their students as active learners and empathetic critical thinkers.
Teachers are the most influential school-based factor for student success, and are the key leverage point for change in the education system.
That’s where we come in.
Inspired Teachers actively engage students as empathetic, critical thinkers so that every child is able to thrive in, and contribute to, our complex and rapidly changing world. They demand more from their students than passive compliance or rote memorization. Inspired Teachers recognize the unique, inherent potential in every child, and challenges their students to solve complex problems, collaborate, and pursue continual learning and growth.
We define an excellent education as students excelling in the 4 I’s: Intellect, Inquiry, Imagination, and Integrity. To make that happen, we believe teaching and learning in schools should be built around five core elements: mutual respect; student as expert; purpose, persistence, and action; wide-ranging evidence of student learning; and joy.
Professional learning should engage teachers the way we want them to engage students. When teachers themselves are intrinsically motivated and engaged in the teaching process, it is far more likely that they will teach in a way that nurtures intrinsic motivation within students, thereby eliminating the need for harsh, teacher-determined disciplinary procedures and fully teacher-directed and teacher-centered learning.
Classroom and school environments should foster mutual respect. Social-emotional skills are an integral part of curriculum and must be taught explicitly. A thriving classroom community requires the teacher to know each student, students to know and trust their teacher, and students to know and trust each other. These positive relationships help students feel supported by teachers, administrators and peers.
Play is essential to the learning experience. Play enhances learning and it important throughout the school day, not just at recess. Excellent educators bring play-based learning into classrooms at every grade level and utilize assessments that value physical (and social-emotional) engagement as much as intellectual engagement.
Students’ work must reflect students’ lives. Student creativity, collaboration, and engagement increase when learning situations include real-life scenarios and students set their own learning agenda. Directly relating learning to students’ lives ensures that students recognize the importance of their work instead of needing an educator to tell them why what they learn is important. In this type of classroom environment, educators can provide opportunities for multiple forms of evidence of student learning so that test scores are not the only source of data.
The school experience should build intrinsic motivation, not external motivation. Schools that place too much emphasis on control, rewards, and competition can hinder self-motivation. Instead of motivating students by external rewards or teacher demands, teachers who cultivate curiosity and students’ love of learning deepen student growth. The desire to learn is a powerful innate drive that should be respected in all learners; tapping learners’ intrinsic motivation pushes them to work harder and learn more.
Our work at Center for Inspired Teaching draws on a foundation of inclusivity, regard for the rights and safety of all people, and respect for the dignity of educators and students. We believe that it is our collective obligation as a society to take responsibility and care for every child, and to work together to give every young person a happy, healthy start in life.
Inspired Teaching recognizes that the education system can either perpetuate or combat systematic oppression. Our organization exists within a world that is historically designed to marginalize individuals and communities based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, and ability. To actively and intentionally interrupt systems of power and oppression, we are committed to promoting civil discourse and social justice, starting in the classroom.
Through Inspired Teaching’s authentically engaging programs, educators and students have meaningful opportunities to engage in discussion, debate, and action around the topics that affect their lives, across racial, ethnic, religious, political, gender, sexual orientation, and other identities. We enact our beliefs and values by investing in a continual process of strengthening awareness and deepening cultural competence.
Inspired Teaching was a great recharge for me, and it breathed new life into my curriculum and teaching practice. My most important goal as a teacher has always been getting my students to be the ones doing the thinking, so Inspired Teaching’s Instigator of Thought framework really resonated with me. After Institute, I’ve tried to move away from any type of lecture where students are only sitting and listening, and you can see the results in my class.