What will it take to make Inspired Teaching the norm?

June 14, 2016

(Photo credit: Center for Inspired Teaching)

This piece, written by Aleta Margolis, was featured in Inspired Teaching’s June newsletter. 

What will it take to make Inspired Teaching the norm? Inspired Teachers are Instigators of Thought who build the 4 I’s – Intellect, Inquiry, Imagination, and Integrity – in all of their students. Inspired Teachers believe in the potential of all children to think critically, solve problems, and become creative, thriving citizens who contribute positively to our rapidly changing world. They unlock this potential through engagement-based teaching, fueling students’ innate desire to learn. All too often, these wonderful teachers are also exceptional – rare bursts of color in a black-and-white world.

In the United States and, indeed, in much of the world, compliance-based education is the norm. Teachers deliver information and students passively receive it. This outdated system of schooling stifles children’s potential. Compliance-based education fails to build the skills that the world requires, setting children up to be marginalized when they enter the workforce and become part of the citizenry of the 21st century.

Teachers have the power to address this urgent challenge, but not alone. They need the training and support to implement engagement-based practice in their schools. They need to learn to be changemakers in the teaching profession, and they need those efforts to be celebrated. This has been the work of Center for Inspired Teaching for the past twenty years. We teach teachers the way we want them to teach their students, challenging them to figure out ways to engage all of their students, create a supportive community for learning, and pursue rigorous instructional objectives that build crucial skills.

For the next twenty years and beyond, Inspired Teaching will continue this vital work, with Washington, DC as our base. We are committed to deepening our teacher preparation and teacher training work here in the District and to using that work to create positive change in the ways that teachers teach and students learn in other parts of the country.

We also recognize that in order for engagement-based education to take hold and spread across the country, we must create a more supportive environment in which teachers practice it. To date, Inspired Teaching has addressed the supply side. Now, together with partners across sectors, we must turn to the demand side: influencing institutional norms and shifting public expectations of school away from compliance-based education to engagement-based education. Only through this dual approach will engagement-based teachers become the norm, not the exceptions.

As we shared with our friends and stakeholders earlier this month, my fabulous colleague Jane Dimyan Ehrenfeld is stepping into the role of Executive Director of Center for Inspired Teaching to lead our organization. I will now focus on the “demand” side, spreading Inspired Teaching’s core message to a local and national audience, on my own and in partnership with leaders from the education, corporate, government, and nonprofit sectors. As Founder and President of Inspired Teaching, it will be my job to tell our story, convince skeptics of the urgency of engagement-based education, and build a coalition in support of shifting the norm.

I’m excited to take on this new position, building off my twenty years as the leader of Inspired Teaching. I’m equally excited for Jane to lend her skills, vision, and expertise to her role as our new Executive Director. As a civil rights attorney, advocate for children, and a former teacher who is extensively involved in the local education community, Jane is well equipped to deepen our work in Washington, DC. Together, we will leverage that work, which remains at the core of Inspired Teaching, to inform educators, teacher training programs, policymakers, and many others throughout the rest of the country.

Join us. Visit us this July at the summer intensive portion of the Inspired Teaching Institute for BLISS and SCALE Teacher Leaders and at our trainings for two cohorts of Inspired Teaching Fellows in the Inspired Teacher Certification Program. Learn more about the core of our work in Washington, DC, and our plans to scale our impact – and how you can help – as we look ahead to the next twenty years.

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