Teacherpreneurs: the direction forward

In our book TEACHING 2030, I proposed, along with 12 of my teacher colleagues, that our nation would need 600,000 teacherpreneurs to advance the public school system that students deserve. I hold a relentless belief that a high quality, 21st-century system of public education, designed for all students to achieve at high levels, must be driven by the bold ideas and expert practices of teachers.

Consider the exploding knowledge bases and personalized learning systems required to make sure our diverse group of 55 million (and growing) students is prepared for a global economy. Individual school principals, even with a small band of assistants, do not have the know-how and bandwidth to build and score new assessment tools tied to internationally benchmarked standards, integrate digital media into a more relevant curriculum for constantly wired students, and serve as partners with community organizations. (We strongly believe that schools must morph into 24/7 “hubs” for integrated academic, social, and health services.)

And while technology can allow students to engage in personalized learning experiences like never before, it will take well-prepared expert teachers, soon to be known as learning architects, to broker potent opportunities for them.

Dramatically improving public education for all will take both collective action and discretionary judgments of many expert teachers, not just a few, because teaching and learning in the 21st century is as complicated as a federal judge issuing a decree on immigration law in the contentious communities in Arizona and South Carolina, or doctors interpreting an array of blood tests, MRI results, and family medical histories to determine how to treat a brain tumor. We will need far different approaches to organizing our schools, and the 7.2 million educators in K-12 and higher education, to best serve children and their families.

Now is the time to cultivate teacherpreneurs—practicing teachers who have the time and space as well as reward—to lead reforms beyond the boundaries of their schools and districts. This year, CTQ is doing its part to meet this goal by sponsoring four teacherpreneurs and two teachers in residence.

Sarah Henchey is spending this year working out of our offices here in Carrboro, and her energy and insight are already bringing tremendous value to efforts to support teacher leaders implementing the Common Core.

Lori Nazareno is taking a year away from the teacher-led school she launched to drive teaching and learning and school-design policies in Colorado and the nation.

Megan Allen and Ryan Kinser are spending half their time in their classrooms and half their time building a network of teacher leaders in Florida to lead teacher evaluation and the Common Core in their state.

Jessica Cuthbertson spends part of her day teaching in Aurora, Colorado, and the other half working with Colorado teachers on the Common Core.

Noah Zeichner has started his second year as a teacherpreneur with CTQ and will be leading efforts, in partnership with the Asia Society, to support teacher leadership for the Global Cities Education Network.

To learn more about these educators, check out this graphic—and help us reach our goal of 600,000 teacherpreneurs by sharing it with your friends and colleagues.