Inspire creates educator network to share best practices on engaging students

October 10, 2014

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Becky Brown knows the importance of helping students become willing participants in their education. Brown is an English teacher at Inspire School of Arts and Science, a charter school in Chico, California, who is leading work to create a network of charter and non-charter educators to share best practices on how best to engage students.

"I know the challenges teachers face to engage students and help them understand that they have a purpose and role in the classroom," said Brown, a seven-year veteran teacher. "I desperately wanted time with my colleagues to share ideas and collaborate."

The need for teacher-led professional development around student engagement drove Inspire to develop a dissemination grant program, called EngagED. Inspire has been awarded a two-year dissemination grant through the Public Charter Schools Grant Program (PCSGP) that is administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The PCSGP funds are available to successful charter schools for work related to the dissemination of best practices in their schools.

The purpose of EngagED is to develop a sustainable network of educators from Chico and surrounding communities who represent both charter and non-charter schools to share best practices around student engagement. The program offers a series of workshops that provides educators an opportunity to review research, share best practices, and create collaborative groups to learn from each other. The first workshop is scheduled this fall with 40 teachers, representing eight schools - four charter schools and four traditional public schools.

EngagED will allow participants to learn new strategies, share what works in their classroom, observe others, and implement new methods. This hands-on professional development opportunity is designed to create a long-standing learning community of educators to help actively engage students.

Brown is hopeful that this work will help shift the culture to one of shared accountability. She points to the transformation she sees in her own students and is encouraged by the positive impact EngagED can have for both teachers and students.

"Teaching is about forming relationships, getting to know students and teaching them how to value what they have to offer," Brown said. "Our challenge is to figure out how we channel what they have to offer - this is when the transformation happens and they see their purpose."