Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students

by Center for Inspired Teaching
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students
Making Learning Joyfully Rigorous for Students

It’s hard to believe that 2022 is now behind us! As we reflect on the past 12 months – filled with continued uncertainty as they may have been – I’m reminded of an issue of Hooray For Monday that considered Inspired Teaching's impact in the last year.

We held in-person Institutes and an in-person Speak Truth event in the spring, our first since 2019. Our Real World History students gave the keynote presentation at the DC History Conference. Hooray For Monday won an award and we launched the Hooray For Monday podcast on Spotify. Aleta Margolis, Inspired Teaching President, shared our philosophy with readers of The Washington Post, ASCD, and 350,000 educators in Italy. And, most importantly, we connected with thousands of teachers, school leaders, and parents.

The pandemic inspired a new approach to sharing with a wider audience the Inspired Teaching strategies, activities, and programming that educators in the DC area have enjoyed for decades. Our new digital guidebooks make incorporating our approach into any classroom more seamless than ever. Our online Inspired Teaching Institutes bring our improvisation-based professional learning to your living room. And our library of online tools for assessing students and building an engaging classroom continues to grow.

2022 by the numbers

     52 issues of Hooray For Monday

     34 episodes of the Hooray For Monday podcast 

     24 Inspired Teaching Institutes

     5 Guidebooks published

     28 Real World History students 

     92 Speak Truth participants

     9,400 educators reached, including 3,600 in the DC area

Every Sunday last year our subscribers could count on (the award-winning) Hooray For Monday to show up in their inbox. And you can expect that – and more – in the year ahead! We launched the Hooray For Monday podcast in 2022 and we’ll continue to offer new, exciting ways to engage with our weekly insights, tools, and activities in 2023. From highlighting the on-the-ground experience of educators to offering insights on assessments, the importance of mistakes, classroom community, and more, Hooray For Monday is a resource teachers can depend on to make their instruction engaging, joyful, and relevant!

We embraced a “yes, and…” mindset during the pandemic and began to offer our Inspired Teaching Institute via Zoom, where we met teachers from near and far in 2022. In 2023, we’ll continue to offer opportunities to join us online for these fun, interactive professional learning opportunities – AND we’re excited to be back in-person at some of our favorite places in Washington, DC for monthly workshops beginning this spring. When teachers can’t join us live, they can now access the strategies and activities we share during our Institutes with our digital Institute Resource Guides.

We were happy to see students holding in-person Speak Truth discussions once again in May at E.L. Haynes High School in Washington, DC. We also welcomed our inaugural class of Speak Truth Fellows over the summer, who joined us for an intensive training, in partnership with Ford’s Theatre, to bring the program to their students during the 22-23 school year. At a time when open, respectful discussion is more important than ever, we’re looking forward to watching their classrooms host Speak Truth events in the new year. 

“Our country needs its teachers. And it’s our collective responsibility, as a society, to find ways to help them thrive.”

     ~ Aleta Margolis, ASCD, December 12, 2022

Looking ahead to 2023, we are excited about what is in store – both the known and the unknown.

Your generous donations enable us to keep our programs free, create new resources, and advocate for change in education.

Thank you for your support!

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

In a recent issue of Hooray For Monday, Inspired Teaching wrote about the power of possibility and potential at the start of a new school year. It’s a time filled with excitement – and expectations. But as we enter the third year of schooling during a global pandemic, this is also a time of great challenge. While this school year is inching closer to “normal,” it still carries the effects of a prolonged period of uncertainty and trauma, for students, teachers, and families.

Center for Inspired Teaching is here to support educators and parents through all of this school year’s ups and downs. Our newly released ‘22-23 Making School Worth It Toolkit is filled with practical, standards-based tools, lessons, and activities that prioritize student agency, curiosity, and wellbeing. The fall Inspired Teaching Institutes will be fun, fast-paced sessions, teaching engaging, effective activities that teachers can use in the classroom right away. And at the start of every week, Hooray For Monday will arrive in inboxes, filled with insights and concrete tools and resources.

We look forward to supporting you -- the teachers, students, parents, and community members who are part of the Inspired Teaching family -- throughout this school year.
Inspired Teaching recently held our first-ever LinkedIn Live stream. Inspired Teaching staff, led by Aleta, gave viewers a peek into what an Inspired Teaching Institute is all about, showcasing improv-based activities and their connections to classroom content. Viewers also learned more about the Inspired Teaching Approach and the many resources available for implementing standards-aligned, engaging activities in their own classrooms. We enjoyed this opportunity to share Inspired Teaching’s mission with educators from around the world.
Back to School with Hooray For Monday

Whether focused on classroom assessments, current events, or social-emotional learning, each issue of Hooray For Monday is filled with the actionable insights and practical resources teachers, school leaders, and parents need to begin the week with enthusiasm.

Recent issues focus on tools for starting the school year right. Really getting to know students and building an authentic learning community are critical, but these priorities can get shifted to autopilot in favor of addressing content as soon as possible. Fortunately, you don’t need to choose between building community and teaching content. Find tips and tools for simple, effective “Getting to Know You” exercises, community builders that double as content instruction, and more, in the below issues.

The Hooray For Monday podcast is now available on Spotify! Be sure to subscribe and listen each week here.

Speak Truth Fellowship Kicks Off

In August our 2022-2023 Speak Truth Fellowship began. We gathered with educators from throughout the DMV at the offices of Ford’s Theatre in downtown Washington, DC for three days of professional learning that included practice with the Inspired Teaching and Speak Truth approaches, exploration of the Speak Truth Guidebook, and specific training in Ford’s Theater’s oratory approach.

This year our Fellows are implementing Speak Truth sessions in a wide variety of school and youth group settings, and their experiences and insights will help us to enhance our resources for teachers who want to implement the program in the future.

A New Class of Real World History Scholars

The ‘22-23 Real World History program has officially begun! Students are identifying and connecting with their Great Migration narrators – individuals who will share their lived experience of this historic event — capturing their oral histories to be archived at the DC Public Library. Students will also visit the Phillips Collection to view Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series with their chosen narrator.

Read more about the program in this Washington Post article and listen to previous oral histories from Real World History students via Dig DC.


Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Speak Truth at EL Haynes PCS
Speak Truth at EL Haynes PCS

We have finished another challenging school year. Teachers and parents have navigated numerous obstacles – some new, some familiar – over the last 10 months; I hope teachers, parents and students can take joy in their wins and recognize that there are no losses when witnessing the growth they've experienced between last September and now. As we head into summertime, it’s important to prioritize time to relax and reset. Given the lessons of the last few years, we can’t know for certain what this fall will have in store for us all. But we can make this season one for building resilience, within ourselves and the children in our lives.

Resilient Summer Handbook

For more than 27 years, Inspired Teaching has been teaching teachers and school leaders to create classrooms where children thrive. Now, we’re helping parents bring this approach into their homes. The Resilient Summer Handbook has short articles and activities you can put to use in strengthening your relationship with your child; engaging them in meaningful tasks to help them build independence, focus, and perseverance; and setting expectations for open communication and mutual respect.

Hooray for Monday on SoundCloud

The first issue of Hooray For Monday was published in August 2020, in recognition of the challenges school leaders and teachers were facing during the first year of teaching in a pandemic. In the many Mondays since, we’ve shared numerous resources, tools, and expert insights to help prepare and excite you for the week ahead. We’ve explored SEL, Inspired Teaching’s 5 Core Elements, the 4 I’s, and the ABCDE of Learner Needs, learning from school leaders’ and teachers’ on-the-ground experiences, and connecting current events to an engaged classroom.

And recently, we made it even easier for you to start the week off on a positive note! Hooray For Monday is now available in audio format. Whether you’re on the go, need to multitask, or just prefer auditory information, you can now listen every week!

Parent Workshop

On June 2 we held a workshop just for parents! Thanks to a grant from the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, we were able to create a session focused on “Parenting Resilient Children,” which explored ways to nurture social and emotional learning in order to help children thrive in school.

Participants learned about the ABCDE of Learner Needs, using Asset Framing to shift perspective on challenging interactions, and looked at ways to engage children’s Intellect, Inquiry, Imagination, and Integrity by pursuing their interests in new and creative ways. The session built on concepts Aleta has been exploring in recent issues of Hooray for Monday, including Resilient Children and The Desk is a Barrier. All participants received a copy of the Resilient Summer Handbook. (And you can get your own copy too!)

Speak Truth

Inspired Teaching held an in-person Speak Truth at EL Haynes High School in Washington, DC on May 31. Dozens of students participated in the event, which focused on four topics: Don’t Touch My Hair; Immigration & Deportation; Gotta Catch Em’ All; and Violence in School. The sessions were held in partnership with the school’s Intro to Black Law and LULAC after school clubs. During the Violence in School discussion, student-facilitators led with questions such as: What does solidarity look like to you? Why do we think there is racial tension in school? How do we relate to each other as students of color?

A Big Spring for Real World History

It’s been a big spring semester for students in our yearlong Real World History course. Real World History engages students directly, and serves as a model of the kind of engagement-based teaching we strive to implement in every school.In early April, Real World History students gave the keynote presentation on the closing day of the 2022 DC History Conference. The students showcased the oral histories of the Great Migration they compiled in the fall, exploring common themes in the experiences of the narrators as they relocated from the South to DC. Joined by narrators from this year’s program as well as several from previous Real World History classes, the students did a wonderful job presenting in front of more than a hundred audience members in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library.

Later in the month, three Real World History students presented their group project, The Good Friday Agreement, for consideration in the National History Day city-wide competition – and were awarded first place! After incorporating feedback from the judges, they will present virtually during the National Contest in mid-June, alongside thousands of other high school students from across the country. Their project explores The Troubles and the impact the Good Friday Agreement had at the moment and on future peace agreements.The students have put a lot of Intellect, Inquiry, Imagination, and Integrity into preparing for these events, from in-depth research into their Great Migration narrators’ lived experiences to sharpening their public speaking skills – in addition to their time interning with DC-area cultural institutions.



Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Professional Development for Teachers
Professional Development for Teachers

Center for Inspired Teaching works to transform the school experience for K-12 students away from compliance, and toward authentic engagement, through transformative teacher training. We envision a future in which every person is prepared to thrive in and contribute to our complex and rapidly-changing world. Thanks to your generous support, Inspired Teaching can continue our critical work - investing in teachers and providing exemplary programming for students. 

Hooray for Monday – an award-winning publication

Back in August of 2020, as we were heading back to school via screens in our living rooms and basements, Inspired Teaching was marshaling our creativity and combined half a century of experience to figure out how to support teachers remotely. Hooray For Monday was the result of that radical creativity, and is now an award-winning publication. This weekly blog is filled with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students. Every issue tackles topics of great importance to teachers, school leaders, and parents in real time. In February 2022, we were honored that Hooray For Mondaywas named a Silver Medal Winner in the inaugural Anthem Awards, a new initiative from The Webbys to honor and recognize social impact work worldwide. Since its launch, Inspired Teaching has published 80 issues, reaching over 1,000 educators, school leaders and parents every week.

Making School Worth It Toolkit – a new resource from Inspired Teaching

For the 2021-2022 school year, Inspired Teaching created a free toolkit to support teachers and parents who want to help their children thrive during this challenging school year. It is filled with resources and activities designed to bolster Intellect, Inquiry, Imagination, and Integrity and center student needs in all instructional, curricular, and social-emotional decisions. 

ABCDE’s of Learning – a new website from Inspired Teaching

In February 2022, Inspired Teaching launched a brand new website focused on the ABCDE’s of Learner Needs. This website is a tool teachers and parents can use to tend to their own wellbeing, and also to help identify and meet the needs of their students/children. The framework is centered around powerful and effective learning experiences that meet five basic psychological needs, adapted from the work of William Glasser. 

Speak Truth Teacher Guidebook – spreading our model!

Released in October 2021, this practical guidebook is filled with practices we've learned over the years for making student-led dialogue a mainstay in schools, both in classrooms and in out-of-school programming. 

Hooray for Monday Won a Webby!
Hooray for Monday Won a Webby!
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Real World History Student - Phillips Collection
Real World History Student - Phillips Collection

Inspired Teaching is proud to share the following update, which highlights the impact our programs are making on teachers and students across the Washington, DC region and beyond. We believe students deserve a meaningful and engaging school experience, even during a global pandemic. By investing in teachers and providing exemplary programming for students, we are making this a reality. 

Professional Development Academy for Teachers

In school year 2020-21, we served 158 teachers via live, virtual, and in-person training, reaching approximately 7,590 students. We reached an additional 1500 educators via asynchronous professional learning, which we began offering in March 2020 in response to Covid. 

Our live, virtual teacher training includes monthly Inspired Teaching Institutes on topics of importance to teachers and Speak Truth for Teachers, a program that enables teachers to make student-led dialogue a mainstay in their classrooms. Topics from last year included: bringing joy into the virtual classroom; embracing change; mental wellness for teachers and students; and making school worth it. 

Our teaching resources, including Hooray For Monday, #Inspired2Learn, Instigator of Thought Challenge, reached 1500 school leaders and classroom teachers every week last school year. Feedback on these offerings is positive, with one DCPS Principal sending the following note: I'm reaching out to share my appreciation for your remarkable example. I look forward to your Hooray for Monday emails and always find them inspiring and portable. They travel with me across the day and week and inform my actions.”

Teacher Feedback

“I feel that I am more prepared to use new and inspiring techniques when introducing concepts in my lessons or homeroom/advisory times.” - Teacher participant, August 2021

“Teaching virtually is a very isolating endeavor and having the space to think big together was really great.” - Teacher participant, March 2021

“Inspired Teaching Institute  is unique because it models how to put theory into practice.  But it goes beyond being a model of exemplary practice-- hard enough to do in itself--to seeing participants as generators of ideas who can see their students as generators of ideas. I want to be around for that transformation!” - Teacher participant, March 2021

“This Zoom...modeled interaction and required engagement. I do appreciate the effort tremendously, and I do feel supported in being provided such methods for engagement by my administration and through examples like yours.” - Teacher participant, February 2021

“Well, from the breathing exercises at the beginning to the interactions with participants in the break-out room, I felt involved and privileged to have the opportunity to be involved. I had expected to sit quietly and hear ideas. Instead, I was included, and I appreciate that effort.” - Teacher participant, February 2021

Youth Programs

Real World History

The culminating work of the first semester of Real World History is an oral history project, in which each student researches, develops questions, and conducts an interview with a Washingtonian who was part of the Great Migration. These oral histories are archived at the DC Public Libraries and available to the public, enabling young people to educate us all on this important part of our city’s and our nation’s history. This free platform is available for anyone to access, and the interview recordings bring to life a historic movement that reshaped DC’s - and much of the nation's - demographic landscape. 

Real World History students partnered with the Phillips Collection for a community exhibition that ran March 6 - May 16, 2021. It focused on conversations about the legacy of the Great Migration and the universal theme of struggle in the world today. Real World History students conducted oral histories of individuals who moved from the South to Washington, DC, prior to 1970. As a part of the exhibition, Local filmmaker, Shalya Racquel, developed a short documentary film about the project. The students also wrote the museum labels that accompanied the Jacob Lawrence Migration Series panels.

“It was great to use Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series as a springboard for conversations about the legacy of the Great Migration. The students conducted powerful oral histories that captured the courage and determination of people who moved from the South to Washington, DC. The students’ work was an amazing addition to our Centennial installation and brought the Great Migration to life in a way that was deeply human and personal.”   - Anne Taylor Brittingham, Director of Learning and Education Strategy, Phillips Collection

Students held internships at nine different sites this year, with many locations receiving multiple student-interns. Students engaged  in valuable hands-on learning, enjoyed networking with industry leaders throughout the city, and made a positive impact on the important work of these national institutions. Inspired Teaching is currently surveying student internship supervisors and we are looking forward to sharing the results of those surveys in the final report. Our 20-21 students interned at the following institutions: DC History Center; Library of Congress; The President Woodrow Wilson House; Smithsonian; Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage; Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument; National Museum of the American Indian; National Museum of African-American History and Culture; Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center; and Mount Zion Cemetery.

Speak Truth

For the entire program year, Inspired Teaching held 22 Speak Truth seminars, bringing together 263 unduplicated youth students from 28 different public, public charter, and private high schools; 865 students attended all sessions when accounting for those who joined multiple sessions throughout the year.

Based on student feedback, 91% percent of Speak Truth participants rated the program as either good or excellent, and 88% agreed or strongly agreed that they had been exposed to new ideas and perspectives through the program. When asked how Speak Truth compared to their experience at school that week, 81% of students agreed or strongly agreed that their time spent at Speak Truth was more meaningful than the learning they experienced in school. Students reported that Speak Truth encouraged them to use leadership skills including active listening and contributing new ideas, and the majority of students reported that they were able to understand another point of view as a result of participating in Speak Truth.

Student Feedback

“Everyone in the room was friendly, caring, and they all were genuinely listening. People weren't talking over each other and instead waited for their turn. If people had a quick comment they sent it quickly through the chat without interrupting anyone. Additionally people tried to build off each other and kept trying to move the conversation forward.” - Student participant, May 2021

“Speak Truth helps participants develop as reflective speakers and critical listeners. At Speak Truth, you learn that the people who move a conversation forward aren't always the ones with the quickest or even the best response. In a Speak Truth discussion, you are a part of an atmosphere where you don't have to worry about saying the smartest thing you just need to be present--its an active skill.” - Student participant, March 2021

“This class has allowed me to understand my capability of a lot of things I was unaware of accomplishing. I have felt better about myself because of the things this class has allowed me to be involved in." - Real World History student, January 2021

“This class has helped me identify ways to get involved in my community. Real World History has helped me realize the power of conversation and interviews. I´ve learned that I can find out more about my surroundings, history, and community by talking to others and taking the time to ask questions." - Real World History student, January 2021

In Person Professional Development
In Person Professional Development
Inspired Teaching Excursion
Inspired Teaching Excursion
Speak Truth Virtual
Speak Truth Virtual
RWH Year End Tour
RWH Year End Tour
Hooray for Monday
Hooray for Monday
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Center for Inspired Teaching

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @InspireTeach
Project Leader:
Caitlin Wolf
Executive Director
Washington, DC United States
$12,058 raised of $75,000 goal
167 donations
$62,942 to go
Donate Now
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Center for Inspired Teaching has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.