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DC Charter School Inspires Teachers and Students

The Inspired Teaching Demonstration School was founded in 2011 as a school for teachers, by teachers — one with decidedly high aspirations. Born out of a partnership with D.C.’s Center for Inspired Teaching, ITDS was meant to be “a changemaker in the realm of public education,” explains contributor Emily Langhorne, by training teachers in best practices of what’s known as inquiry-based teaching and active learning methods. What that means in the classroom is a lot of student-led learning, where young people get to express their creativity, work on passion projects large and small and learn how to think, not what to think. “Because of the inquiry-based model, learning here is bottom-up, based on what students are interested in, rather than top-down, based on what I know,” explains pre-K teacher Liane Alvez, who also trained at ITDS. “So I have to learn a lot because I have to research what they want to learn. I’ve researched robots, vehicles and city planning. This year, there’s a lot of interest in space.” The D.C. public charter school is wildly popular — with 1,745 applications for 125 spots this school year — and the goal is for other schools to replicate the model.