Teachers hit the road to capture best practices of great schools

column | Personal Learning Networks

Teachers hit the road to capture best practices of great schools

By Betsy Corcoran (Columnist)     Jul 24, 2012

Teachers hit the road to capture best practices of great schools

A Most Excellent--and Educational--Roadtrip

Here's a teacher-driven Kickstarter campaign well worth your dollars: Todd Sutler has been a full-time teacher for four years in New York City. Last year, he and colleagues Brooke Peters and Michelle Healy began talking about starting a school in Brooklyn with a powerful experiential learning focus. "We believe that 'learning by doing' has a more powerful impact on a child than memorization." So they reasoned, shouldn't they live the message and learn from other great schools before starting their own? What they envisioned: spending time in the classrooms of great teachers all across America, video camera in hand, and capturing--and sharing--what they saw.

By February, encouraged by a grant from a friend and Sutler's steadfast conviction in the mission, the trio told their school principals they planned to hit the road in September with a videographer.

They call their program the Odyssey Initiative. To get additional funding--and to capture imaginations--they launched their kickstarter campaign, which ends this coming weekend. (Pony up now!) "We want to observe the different stages that go into creating rich classroom learning," Sutler declares.

The teachers figure they have enough funding--and proposed site visits--to fill September and October, and create proof points that they hope will be compelling to larger funders. Their itinerary is packed with visits to at least three schools a week. They plan to shoot hours of video, then edit it down into five-minute polished gems. Sutler hopes to make longer versions available, too.

Over the course of a year, they intend to visit schools in all 50 states. Along the way, the trio is working with researchers to build out observation protocols so that "we can present findings in a way that the country will respect," and then share the videos widely.

"How often do three teachers get to travel the country and share the stories?" Sutler marvels. "We feel a social responsibility to do this right."

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