California Educator

September 2015

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Teacher- Driven Change Gets Real By Cynthia Menzel The Institute for Teaching funds your great ideas C T A ' S I N S T I T U T E F O R T E A C H I N G ( I F T ) knows that school change must be teacher-driven and based on what is working and successful in our schools and classrooms. IFT awards Educator Grants up to $5,000 and Impact Grants up to $20,000 to pursue creative, innovative ideas that drive change. In six years IFT has awarded 167 grants totaling almost $1.8 million. For more information, see Describe IFT Advice on applying for a grant? ADAM EBRAHIM, former ninth-grade human geography teacher, Fresno Teachers Association, six years IFT rejects the narrative of failure in public schools. It instead builds from what teachers and public schools do really well. We are interested in promoting virtuous, not vicious, cycles and helping magnify the impact of what excellent classroom teachers do every day. Get support from key stakeholders and think in terms of labor-management collaboration. Sustainability is a highly attractive quality in a grant proposal. When you are thinking about the design of your project, start with the end in mind. Lastly, don't be afraid to balance pragmatism with aspiration. ERIC ENRIQUEZ, Hayward Education Association, sixth-grade math and instructional coach, 16 years IFT is one of the ways teachers can see their membership dues at work in their classroom. IFT provides seed money so teachers can turn creative, innovative ideas into reality. I've loved that grant ideas that we've seen blur the lines between community and classroom, making real- world applications. [Your project should] look at what's working, make it better or strength-based. Look at the strength-based matrix on the IFT website [under the Grants tab]. Those seven factors were designed and created based on positive inquiry and what's working. Also, IFT provides grant-writing workshops. MICHELLE RAMOS, Covina Unified Education Association, eighth-grade physical science teacher, 25 years IFT advocates for the teacher as the expert. We know that many answers, opportunities and sometimes miracles are happening daily in California classrooms. We know who makes that happen. IFT grants are intended to fund a teacher's passion. The grant-writing is straightforward and matches how teachers plan for classroom projects and activities. Know that awarding of grants is based solely on the seven pillars of the strength-based matrix. SERINA WEST, Oceanside Teachers Association, kindergarten teacher, 16 years IFT is truly about teachers leading their profession and using their voice to spearhead the future of public education. IFT highlights the successes of teachers, students and education and uses those successes to advance the teaching and learning experience. No idea is too big or too small! Teachers are already doing a lot of wonderful things, and some things don't get done to their fullest potential due to a lack of funds. IFT grants can help teachers with their unfunded great ideas. Don't allow the idea of grant writing to scare you away from applying. It is a super friendly process! Below, four teacher-leaders on the IFT board share their insights on IFT and applying for grants. (To read an expanded version of this story, including the board members' comments on participation in Regional Teacher Think Tanks, visit IFT board members Adam Ebrahim, Serina West, Eric Enriquez, Michelle Ramos. 58 CTA & You

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