Some 150 freshmen and sophomores from nearby Shaw Middle School, which was in the process of growing into a high school, showed up on his doorstep. When their principal, Brian Betts, died earlier that spring, it killed the school’s expansion efforts, leaving those students to find a new high school.
“I thought, my God, I can’t turn (these) kids down,” said Pinder, who was speaking at YEP-DC’s inaugural policy-to-practice conference in March. But by doing so, Pinder welcomed a much larger challenge: Most of these kids were in poverty and below basic in math and reading. “I realized that if we were going to move (academics) substantially … we were going to have to actually figure out how to do education differently,” he said.
- C, for content: Teachers should be passionate about their content; if not, it will be hard for them to get students excited about it
- P, for pedagogy: Teachers should be masters at presenting information to students in ways that they want to learn.
- R, for relationships: Teachers have to build such strong relationships with students that “they work harder just because you’re in the room,” he said.
Pinder saw student proficiency surpass 90 percent by 2012, when he was also named Principal of the Year for District of Columbia Public Schools. In 2006, barely half of students were proficient.
If you missed Pinder’s speech or couldn’t make the YEP-DC conference, watch this video snippet.
The remainder of the YEP-DC conference was divided into four breakout sessions, where participants could choose the speakers and topics they wanted to join. Topics included (but were not limited to):
- access to higher education,
- the current political climate,
- English-language learners,
- over-aged and under-credited youth,
- new approaches to STEM and literacy instruction,
- teacher evaluation and preparation,
- family and community engagement.
One panel included a variety of representatives from alternative teacher certification programs, including Center for Inspired Teaching, Teach for America, TNTP (formerly known as The New Teacher Project), and the Urban Teacher Center. While the difference in size of each of the respective programs is vast (ranging from 30 to 315 participants), all are intent on finding academically successful, resilient, and passionate leaders to teach in D.C. Each representative talked about their program’s feedback-driven approach toward teacher preparation and evaluation.
And what’s a YEP-DC event without networking? Midway through the day, YEP-DCers walked through an Opportunity Fair, where about 20 education organizations and businesses shared their work and potential career opportunities. The day concluded with a more informal networking session over drinks at nearby Clyde’s.
An engaging day, for sure.
YEP-DC thanks Microsoft for donating the space to host this event, as well as the invaluable donations of our other sponsors. Thank you all for making this event a success.
Amanda Klein works for an education nonprofit. She can be reached at AmandaLKlein(at)gmail(dot)com. Mandy Zatynski works for a nonpartisan education policy think tank. She can be reached at mzatynski(at)gmail(dot)com.