From the moment a student begins school, he is measured against the ever-present yardstick of "average." Am I above average? Below average? On track relative to my peers? Off track? The concept of average has become such a normal part of teaching and learning that we rarely question it. Nevertheless, we know intuitively that every student is different -- has different strengths and needs, moves at different paces, and demonstrates mastery in different ways. We're ready to move away from teaching to the middle and instead towards teaching to the individual. "Next Generation" models of teaching and learning that lead to deep levels of personalization, authenticity, and rigor can support all students to achieve at their greatest potential.
The Innovation in Teaching Fellowship equips Dallas ISD educators to grow in their understanding of and pilot Next Generation models in their classrooms. Throughout the fellowship, fellows will draw from research, best practices, and their own ingenuity to design and test personalized learning in their classrooms. Fellows will have access to workshops, pop-up (i.e., on demand) professional development sessions, internal and external site visits, and coaching from the Dallas ISD central personalized learning team. At the conclusion of the fellowship, fellows will have an opportunity to share their learnings and ideas with the education community.
Fellows exemplify the following:
You put students first in all that you do – from planning to execution and everything in between, you’re firmly anchored in the needs of your students. You are quick to find and build upon the good things that students bring to the table and don’t get stuck on their gaps. Students, families, and the community are your active partners in the learning process.
Technology doesn’t make you sweat. While you might not know the ins and outs of the latest online program, You’re not afraid to navigate through digital tools to figure them out and are generally a quick study when it comes to technology. You’ve had some experience integrating technology in your classroom and can speak to a few lessons learned.
You’ve never met a problem that doesn’t have a solution and love to roll-up your sleeves to tackle stubborn challenges in new and creative ways. You’re not satisfied to do things the same way we’ve always done them and are comfortable taking informed risks.
You have the poster, “There is no I in team!” (or something of the like) on your classroom wall. You’re eager to work in concert with colleagues to improve student outcomes and are always on the hunt for new ideas from your teammates. When it comes to shared team goals, you’re all in.
You plan and make instructional decisions based on evidence and regularly track progress towards measurable goals. In your classroom, you use data to differentiate instruction for individual and groups of students.
You are relentless in pursuit of your goals and are not shy to ask for and use feedback to improve your craft. You regularly seek opportunities to learn something new in both your personal and professional life. Mindset might be on your nightstand – having a growth mindset is a non-negotiable in your classroom. Last but not least, reflection is part of your daily routine.
In addition to the competencies above, we strongly recommend that fellows are Proficient I or higher and have some access to technology for use in their classroom.
Cohort Fellowship Timeline
Part One: Reimagining the Classroom Design Sprint
Virtual Summer (2 days)
The fellowship will kick-off with a design sprint that will introduce the design thinking process. Fellows will be exposed to new ideas and models that reflect the future of learning and design thinking as a process for operationalizing those ideas, and personalized learning as one particular approach to support student growth at his/her zone of proximal development.
Part Two: Exploration of Next Generation Models
Virtually: Summer 2021
Fellows will have access to selected books, playlists, webinars, etc. that will continue to expose them to new ideas and models related to blended learning and project-based learning. Fellows will also be able to engage in an online discussion forum to dialogue with their peers about what they're learning, what they hope to try in their own classrooms, and what questions they have.
Part Three: Deeper Learning
Virtual or In-Person: Selected dates in August, October, January (3 sessions/2-3 hours)
Deeper Learning workshops will be focused on going deeper into classroom practices to support fellows’ pathway [blended learning, project-based learning, design thinking]. During these sessions fellows will be exposed to instructional strategies that support new learning models while they are simultaneously prototyping new ideas in their classroom.
Part Four: Learning Excursions
Local and National Site Visits (currently virtual visits)
Fellows who are in good standing (and have principal approval) will have the opportunity to take a Learning Excursion to visit innovative schools across the nation and/or Dallas metroplex.
Part Five: Analyze, Synthesize, + Prepare to Share
Virtually : February Session
Fellows will reflect on what they've learned and observed through the fellowship and will prepare to share key insights, ideas, etc. with their new community of practice as well as the broader education ecosystem.