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Expanding Excellence: A research article in Learning Forward's journal, JSD (now called The Learning Professional)

Ben Owens & David Strahan

Jan 20, 2016

This is an article published in JSD and co-written with Dr. Strahan at Western Carolina University about the "Scaling the Pockets of Teaching Excellence" project we did in Western North Carolina as a grassroots model of how teacher-to-teacher collaboration and professional development can help improve student outcomes across an entire region.

This vignette demonstrates some of the outcomes that

occur when teachers collaborate across school district lines.

As participants in the Scaling the Pockets of Teaching Excellence project, Worley and Gray met for a weekend work session, corresponded for over a month, arranged visits to each other’s classrooms, and then focused on ways to infuse

more student-centered problem- and project-based learning into their lessons.

The project began as an idea from Ben Owens, a 2014 Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow. The basic notion was that good teaching doesn’t happen in isolation.

As someone who came into teaching after a career in engineering, Owens knew the power of collaboration and its importance to the bottom line in business. Seeing a stark contrast in education, where many teachers work in isolation, he realized there must be a simpler way to identify teachers interested in growing professionally by working with peers in other schools or districts.

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