April 2 — 1:08 pm, 2012

Lessons from teachers

Ask any teacher, whether at a neighborhood, magnet, or charter school, and most would agree that to keep students engaged and create meaningful learning, they need some autonomy – some room to be creative.

District Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon recently announced an end to the requirement to use scripted curricula in the District’s Empowerment Schools. While many teachers are hopeful of what that could mean for their classrooms, others remain unclear about what they will be expected to do instead. In some schools, the culture of “teaching to the test” has left many teachers fearful to veer from the script. Often, instructors who successfully use creative ways to reach students are wary about sharing what they are doing.

The Notebook interviewed five teachers who were excited to talk about what they are teaching. They each described a successful approach – a project, unit, or lesson they’ve delivered in their classroom that has made a difference in student achievement. Their circumstances and experiences may not resemble that of many teachers. But they provide a glimpse into the possibilities in a district that is making a shift away from mandates toward encouraging and supporting more teacher autonomy.

the notebook

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