In January 2018, ten new recipients of EdVestors’ School Solutions Seed Fund grants launched a diverse set of approaches that tackle core issues in urban education. In applying, each school identified its top challenge – the one standing between where they were at the time and where they wanted to be – and designed a solution that would clear the way to success for their students. Through the School Solutions Seed Fund, EdVestors makes initial investments of $10,000, and the educators leading these initiatives learn from their own implementation and from each other throughout the spring.
Three themes emerged among this year’s Seed Fund cohort:
- Designing Engaging Learning
- Strengthening Teacher Practice
- Supporting All Learners
Designing Engaging Learning
Engaging students in their own learning has been shown to increase effort, motivation, and achievement among students. This year’s Seed Fund cohort showcases four efforts to do just that, whether by incorporating engineering design approaches throughout the curriculum at the John F. Kennedy STEM Innovation School, exploring project based learning in math and science through woodworking at the Donald McKay School, making real-world business and technology experiences accessible for all learners at Excel High, or creating opportunities for students to actively engage with current events and develop their own voice at New Mission Collegiate Academy.
- Engineering Design in Literacy, John F. Kennedy STEM Innovation School
- Social Activism through Social Media, New Mission Collegiate High School
- Project Based Learning in Math & Science, Donald McKay K-8 School with North Bennet Street School
- Linked Learning Career & Technical Education Pathway, Excel High School
Strengthening Teacher Practice
Research has shown that effective teachers are the most important factor in students’ academic success. Yet traditional teacher training is only part of the solution and two of this year’s Seed Fund grantees recognized the importance of ongoing support and coaching to teachers in the classroom. At the Martin Luther King Jr. K-8 School, teachers of early elementary students will learn self-care techniques, so they can bring their best selves to their students. At the Jeremiah E. Burke High School, mentor teachers will offer an afterschool course on effective and engaging classroom management to newer teachers, and provide regular observations and coaching.
- Self-Care Practices for Elementary Teachers, The Home for Little Wanderers and the Martin Luther King Jr. K-8 School
- Support from Within: Teachers Supporting New Teachers, Jeremiah E. Burke High School
Supporting All Learners
Schools are charged with meeting the learning needs of every one of their students, which often requires looking beyond academic instruction and “teaching to the middle”. This year’s Seed Fund grantees are taking a hard look at how they are meeting their students’ needs and challenging themselves to do better. At the Warren-Prescott K-8 School, teachers will be exploring ways to ensure every child has access to the opportunities that blended learning and full-inclusion classrooms can offer. For the first time in Boston, Haitian students are learning academics in both Haitian Creole and English in a way that honors their culture. At City on a Hill-Circuit Street, teachers will bring the Restorative Practices approach into their classrooms as part of a broader effort to implement a positive discipline culture that keeps young people in school and learning. And at five Boston high schools, led by Charlestown High and the BPS Office for Safe & Welcoming Schools, teachers and students will be working together to create a supportive culture for LGBTQ+ students.
- LGBTQ+ Inclusive Schools, Charlestown High, Another Course to College, Boston Green Academy, Boston International & Newcomers Academy, and New Mission Collegiate Academy with BPS Safe & Welcoming Schools
- Restorative Practices in the Classroom, City on a Hill – Circuit Street
- Haitian Dual Language Program, Mattapan Early Elementary School
- Blended Learning in Inclusion Classrooms, Warren-Prescott K-8 School