According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, more than 900,000 people quit jobs in state and local education last year, while private schools lost an additional 600,000 people. So what would make an overworked, underpaid teacher want to increase their workload and add to their schedules a monthly, two-hour meeting after school?
The answer? An Innovation Circles Grant from Fund for Teachers.
Last year, Fund for Teachers offered a new opportunity specifically for teachers who already received a Fellowship grant. With up to $1,000 (as opposed to $5 -$10,000 for their original grant), Fellows were encouraged to think more theoretically about challenges witnessed in their classrooms and to pursue related experiential learning during the summer. The biggest differentiator, however, was the opportunity to process that learning with other Fellows throughout the fall. Each teacher brought to monthly virtual meetings their independent summer research loosely organized around the topics of social justice, art & design, accessibility, and social emotional learning. And, together, they workshopped how to leverage that research in the classroom. The program was so well received that we committed to a second year of Innovation Circle Grants, and the online application opened February 10th.
Today, we’re learning from Marci Addy, a high school literature teacher in Beaverton, OR, and member of our first Innovation Circles Grant cohort. She participated in our Social Emotional Learning Innovation Circle, using a $1,000 grant to attend online workshops and develop skills in project-based learning. Then she walked students through the PBL process, helping them demonstrate authentic learning while maturing as learners and citizens. I reached out to learn more about this experience and why she believes Fellows owe it to themselves to also apply.