“Agents for Learning” Competition to Spur Teacher Engagement in ESSA Implementation

PrintLearning Forward and the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future (NCTAF) are pleased to announce that the application process for the Agents for Learning Competition (www.learningforward.org/get-involved/agents-for-learning-competition) is now officially open. The goal of the competition is to engage educator teams in advocating for the best use of federal funding for professional learning under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

As states and districts work to develop comprehensive plans to implement ESSA, Learning Forward and NCTAF believe it is critical that teachers’ expertise, experiences, and input are heard. “This competition provides a national platform for teacher voice to be included in the broader ESSA conversation,” said Melinda George, president of NCTAF. “As we think about developing effective professional learning systems that meet teachers’ needs to ensure that the conditions are in place for great teaching for every student, it is imperative that teachers have agency in this process.”

The theory of action behind the competition specifies that if states and districts engage teachers who understand their learning needs, the needs of their students, and effective professional learning, then they can co-create learning systems that substantially improve teaching and learning.

Educator teams, consisting of three to five current teachers, are invited to submit an application to participate in the competition. The application deadline is June 10, 2016. There will be an application-specific chat with experts available to answer questions about the competition on May 25. Team members are also encouraged to participate in two live webinars (or view the recordings) to help them understand ESSA, including the rights and responsibilities of states and districts in the use of federal funds for professional learning, as well as how those funds can support a systemic vision for continuous improvement in schools.

The webinars, held in partnership with the Center for American Progress and Teach Plus, will be open to the general public and will cover the following topics:

·      ESSA 101 for Educators – April 27

·      A Deep Dive into Professional Learning for ESSA – May 11

Reviewers will read the applications and select finalist teams to travel to Chicago July 21-22, where teams will present their plans to a panel of judges. Before presenting their plans, teams will have time to engage in learning and coaching to refine their plans and build skills in advocating with policymakers. Learning Forward and NCTAF will webcast the presentations and disseminate the finalists’ plans to serve as models for educators around the country. Finalists will be eligible for prizes, awards, and recognition as well as the opportunity to influence the implementation of ESSA to improve learning for all of their peers and the students they teach.

The competition is intended to provide an avenue for teachers to exercise their agency in ways that influence the learning they experience along with federal, state, and local policy related to that learning.

Access the application here: www.learningforward.org/get-involved/agents-for-learning-competition