Mar 24, 2020

New Year, New Inspiration

Center for Inspired Teaching came into the new year excited to champion impactful teacher development and insightful student-led discourse. Our professional development programs for teachers and educators held numerous in-person seminars and events between January and March 2020. We championed teachers as changemakers within classrooms, and engaged students as active learners and critical thinkers to help them learn and achieve at high levels. 

We hold sessions of Inspiring Changemakers and Critical Conversationalists on a monthly basis, but in January 2020 we held an additional special session to further enable teacher development. We brought the Speak Truth program to the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) Headquarters as part of an ongoing partnership between Inspired Teaching and WTU. We invited a larger group of DCPS teachers to view a small-session of Speak Truth and then participate in guided reflection and activities that teach them how to bring student-driven discourse into their own classrooms. It was a powerful session of Speak Truth where students discussed the rising costs of college tuition, with many teachers and leaders in education in attendance. Teachers left the session feeling empowered to bring student-led discourse into their own classrooms.

In February 2020, Speak Truth, Inspired Teaching's groundbreaking program that brings together high school students from public, charter, and independent schools across the region to engage in student-led discussion on powerful topics, held an intergenerational session at EL Haynes Public Charter School in honor of Black History Month. This is the one time that educators can join in with students for the discussion. The results were a powerful and diverse conversation on the topics of representation in video games; Black girls missing in DC; hip-hop-ology; the stigma around natural hair in school; and the “right” way to protest. We are proud of the way our city's young people and their teachers are engaging in civic (and civil!) discourse.

March 2020 has brought many new changes and challenges to the world, including education. In order to adapt to a virtual learning environment, Inspired Teaching is developing new ways to engage both teachers and students online. As a way to promote continued learning and exploration, we started the #Inspired2Learn challenge. We are posing daily challenges where students can utilize their at-home and in-neighborhood environment to learn, explore, grow and change. We welcome you to follow us and take an #Inspired2Learn challenge on your own or with a child or young person in your life!

In March, we held our monthly Speak Truth event as a virtual session. We were curious about how engaged students would be in a virtual setting, and the session turned out to be amazing! The official topic focused on the importance of Black teachers in schools that serve mostly students of color. The students had a lot to say, but the bottom line is that students deeply appreciate it when their teachers show they care. We look forward to continuing to host virtual seminars for as long as schools in the DC region remain closed.

Inspired Teaching is looking forward to another successful year of teacher and student engagement; and we are committed to working with all our partners to ensure the best outcomes for our communities. 

Dec 26, 2019

Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students

Students in Inspired Teaching's Speak Truth
Students in Inspired Teaching's Speak Truth

Since 1995, Center for Inspired Teaching has been teaching teachers – and their students - how to engage respectfully in powerful conversations.
Through our program Speak Truthhigh school students from public, charter, and private schools across the Washington, DC region engage in honest and respectful discussion about contemporary social issues. In 2019, students took on dozens of topics, including the New Green Deal; the psychological aftermath of surviving school shootings; the pros and cons of regulating social media; the college admissions scandal; and how to raise boys.

Through Inspired Teaching's transformative professional development programspreK-12 teachers engage in their own powerful discussions on topics ranging from how to see the best in every student to balancing rigor and joy in the classroom.


Integrity, civil discourse, and empathy have been at the core of Inspired Teaching’s work for nearly a quarter century. We believe school is the place where young people must learn these skills so they can be active and thoughtful participants in our democratic society.
And yet so many students still endure a school experience that prizes compliance and teaches them to absorb material, instead of allowing them to grapple with meaningful issues and engage authentically in learning. This problem is pervasive, particularly in schools in low income communities, where research shows students are even more likely to experience instruction that prizes compliance over engagement.
Whether you have supported Inspired Teaching for years, or are investing in us for the first time, thank you. We need you, our friends and co-conspirators, to keep us strong as we continue to invest in teachers and students toward our goal of creating systemic change.
We look forward to the day when all children learn to think critically, engage honestly and respectfully, and learn joyfully every single day in every single school.
Thank you!
Students in Inspired Teaching's Speak Truth
Students in Inspired Teaching's Speak Truth
Students in Inspired Teaching's Speak Truth
Students in Inspired Teaching's Speak Truth
Students in Inspired Teaching's Speak Truth
Students in Inspired Teaching's Speak Truth


Oct 3, 2019

Back to School: A Renewed Focus on Engagement

Throughout the month of August, Inspired Teaching was busy leading back-to-school professional development for Ketcham Elementary School, McKinley Middle School, Hardy Middle School, and McKinley Technology High School in Washington, DC. Across sites, teachers grappled with challenging issues, including distinguishing between compliance and authentic engagement; going beyond competency, to build a love of learning; bringing student-led dialogue into the classroom; and ensuring equity and mutual respect are at the forefront of all instruction.

The series of workshops began with a thoughtful and committed group of Ketcham Elementary School teachers. Together, they learned strategies for adjusting their lesson plans and activities to better meet students' needs, explored restorative practices by engaging in role play exercises, and participated in engagement-based literacy activities, designed to spark enjoyment, as well as proficiency, in reading and writing. Teachers left the PD with plans to "focus on students doing all the heavy lifting" as far as learning and exploring, as well as plans to infuse what they had learned about student needs into their teaching this year.

The workshop with McKinley Middle School teachers focused on using data to create, differentiate, and adapt lessons that meet students' needs and build students' motivation from a basis of mutual respect. In one activity, teachers reflected on the many fascinating sides of middle school students, acknowledging that they can be "sassy," "stubborn," and "unpredictable," but also "curious," "driven," and "creative." Teachers remarked on how their views of their students grew noticeably more positive the more they reflected. Another activity reminded teachers how important it is to convey caring and respect throughout even the smallest interactions with students. As one teacher noted, "body language and facial expressions speak volumes to kids."

At Hardy Middle School, we focused on the art of facilitating high quality classroom discussions, and balancing rigor and joy in the classroom. The day began with teachers reflecting on the components of good conversations (both in and outside the classroom), and continued with specific activities designed to bring these components into their teaching practice. We look forward to hearing about the great conversations these teachers will lead with their students this year!  

At McKinley Technology High School, we delved into engagement-based pedagogy, particularly as it relates to equity and identity. Teachers developed strategies to build relationships with all students, especially the ones who can be most challenging, grappled with how to effectively implement restorative practices, and developed empathy for students with different learning styles and preferences from their own. 

Across workshops, teachers looked ahead to the new school year. Through Inspired Teaching's immersive activities, they reflected on their habits and practices from previous years, and considered changes they could make to engage their students even more in 2019-20. We wish all of our teacher participants and their students an exciting and productive year, and look forward to continuing to work together to support engagement-based teaching and learning!


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