Academics and Advocates: Teachers on the Power of Bringing Rigor and Relevance Together
For the sixth consecutive year, we’re celebrating the back-to-school season by launching a new collection of essays by the winners of the Fishman Prize, our annual award honoring exemplary teachers.
This year’s collection, Academics and Advocates: Teachers on the Power of Bringing Rigor and Relevance Together, is out today. In each essay, the winners reflect on how creating an engaging classroom culture is about more than lesson planning and classroom management. It takes making lessons relevant to kids’ lives both today and beyond graduation. In all four classrooms, students are pushed to consider their identity and role in the world around them—and appreciate their own agency in changing that world.
In Washington D.C., Milton Bryant’s goal to give his students the same access to challenging and inspiring lessons as those living in more affluent areas. In his essay, Bryant discusses teaching his fourth and fifth-grade math students to question everything, think deeply about how they arrived at their answers, and apply the new knowledge to their daily lives.
Joshua Martinez discusses the importance of teaching kids about how their brains function alongside teaching them reading—in math class. In his fourth-grade classroom in East Los Angeles, Martinez has incorporated mindfulness practices into his lessons to help his students identify their emotions and respond to them productively—skills that equip them to take on any challenge they might encounter, now and in the future.
For students in Maria Morfin's fifth-grade English classroom in East Los Angeles, immigration isn’t politics—it’s lived experience. Morfin describes how she teaches her students to cut through the noise of current events, evaluate arguments and evidence, and form their own identities and perspectives.
Brett Noble explores what it means for his 11th grade English students to both understand what they’re reading and connect those stories to their lives, values, and aspirations. In Halifax County, North Carolina, that means treating the living history in their backyard like its own text.
Take a few minutes to get to know these amazing teachers and their classrooms. We’re sure you’ll find they inspire hope, and perhaps they’ll inspire action, too.
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