Too often, great teaching is a well-kept secret.
At the end of the hall, there’s a biology classroom where students who struggle elsewhere consistently flourish. There’s a band teacher who somehow creates championship ensembles of students who’ve never touched an instrument in their lives. There’s a physics class that propels graduate after graduate into top-tier universities. But outside the school—and sometimes inside, too—nobody really sees it.
As a country, we have done a shoddy job of giving these life-changing teachers and classrooms the recognition they deserve. And at a time when schools are more focused than ever on rigorous teaching and deep learning, we have to do better.
That’s why TNTP created the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, a $25,000 annual award given to four incredible teachers working in high-poverty public schools. We believe great teachers deserve our full attention.
What makes the Fishman Prize special isn’t just that it rewards great teachers with a big check. We see the Prize as a way to bring together some of the country’s best educators, give them the opportunity to learn from each other, and allow the entire teaching profession to learn from them.
Every year, the Fishman Prize winners collaborate during a month-long summer residency. They reflect on their classroom practices, explore the larger issues that shape their profession, and meet with top educators, writers, researchers, and policymakers. And they emerge having created something tangible, a collection of essays they’ve written in their own voices, about their work in the classroom.
You can download this year’s collection, Languages for Learning, for free today. It’s our way of spotlighting these teachers and their endlessly creative strategies for engaging their students.
Now, we’re also looking for the next winners. In 2014, more than 800 teachers from 46 states applied for the prize. This year, we hope to see applications from more than 1,000 teachers in every single state.
The winners aren’t the only ones who benefit. Nominators get a chance to recognize teachers who deserve more attention. Applicants get a chance to reflect on their teaching. And finalists receive $1,000 each.
From now until December 16, you can nominate a teacher or apply for yourself (a nomination is not required). Our first early application deadline is November 4. So don’t treat great teaching like a secret. Tell us all about it.