Teach Plus Teachers Named Finalists in Agents for Learning Challenge

Teach Plus Teachers Named Finalists in Agents for Learning Challenge

Team of Massachusetts Fellows Will Join 11 Other Finalists to Present Ideas for Best Use of Federal Funds for Professional Learning Under ESSA

BOSTON, MA—A team of seven Massachusetts Teaching Policy Fellows was named a finalist in the Learning Forward and the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future (NCTAF) Agents for Learning challenge, a nationwide call to action designed to engage educator teams in advocating for the best use of federal funding for professional learning under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).   The Teach Plus team members are Christina Jusino, Jennifer Langdon, Desiree Daring, Emily Banta, Tuyet Dinh, Michael Macchi, and Alicia Serafin, all of whom teach in public schools in Massachusetts.  Four of the Fellows will travel to Chicago on July 21-22 to present their plan before a panel of judges together with 11 other finalist teams of educators from across the nation.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to provide our team’s unique teacher input to districts and states about the implementation of impactful professional development that promotes student growth and excellence,” said team member Alicia Serafin who teaches kindergarten and 3rd-5th grade English as a Second Language at the Whittier School in Everett, MA.   In addition to their submission to the challenge, the Fellows recently published a policy memo, “Leveraging ESSA to Support Teacher Leadership,” that outlines their recommendations for using Title II funding under ESSA in Massachusetts.

The Teach Plus team’s vision for effective professional learning centers on teacher-led professional development (PD).  The teachers recommend changing the way PD is structured at school, district, and state levels.  They support changes that will lead to duration at the school level, specificity at the district level, and equity at the state level.  At every level, the teachers wrote in their application, “teachers represent the most effective, efficient, and untapped resource in reforming professional development,” and “are best positioned to offer advice via best practices and strategies.”

The team recommended the following to support successful implementation of Title II of ESSA:

  • Implement an effective teacher-led professional development selection and incentive process.
  • Select professional development initiatives that are tied to both district and school priorities.
  • Structure teacher-led professional development to meet the federal definition of high-quality development.
  • Develop multiple measures to assess effectiveness of professional development.

 “When given the opportunity to improve the professional learning of teachers, there is no one more passionate, informed, or capable than teachers themselves,” said Alice Johnson Cain, Teach Plus Executive Vice President for Policy and Partnerships.  “We hope that states will dramatically revamp professional learning under ESSA and that our teachers’ recommendations will help.”

“We were proud to offer an opportunity to amplify teachers’ voices in advocating for the professional learning that will make a difference for educators and students,” said Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward. “States tell us they are looking for ways to capture stakeholder input, and the creative and bold ideas in the applications show how much these engaged educators have to offer as we enter the implementation phase of ESSA.”


About Teach Plus 

Teach Plus empowers excellent, experienced teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ success. Teach Plus runs three programs designed to place teacher leaders at the center of improvements in policy and practice: Teaching Policy Fellowship, C2 Initiative, and T3 Initiative.  The programs focus on demonstrably effective teachers who want to continue classroom teaching while also expanding their impact as leaders in their schools and in district, state, and national policy.  Since its inception in August 2009, Teach Plus has grown to a network of more than 22,000 solutions-oriented teachers across the country.  www.teachplus.org