January 14, 2019

Innovation helps new teachers' pain points

The Innovation District is Lauren Swanson and Chelsie Durham both started as new, fresh-out-of-college teachers at Lakeside Academy five years ago. Each was teaching first grade, and each felt in over her head.

“I spent many days, and nights, in tears from being so overwhelmed,” says Lauren.

They survived it. But in the time since, they’ve realized they aren’t the only first-time teachers to experience that kind of stress. Now, five years later, they’re approaching the issue with an entrepreneurial mindset.

“Teachers are not getting what they need, and we came up with a solution — Teach Like A Boss,” says Chelsie.

Teach Like A Boss is a program for Hamilton County Schools teachers to help them feel more successful in the classroom. Lauren and Chelsie give new teachers tools for classroom management and curriculum that can be really useful in the early years.

The women first began by organizing a workshop for their colleagues at Lakeside Academy called “Remaining sane during insane times.” And now, like good entrepreneurs, they’re taking their program to the next level.

In October, Teach Like A Boss won first place in the Teacherpreneur program, sponsored by the Innovation District and the Public Education Foundation. With that recognition, they’ve been formally plugged into programming in the Innovation District, and connected with the resources here that are available to other entrepreneurs in the community.

“The Innovation District is all about problem solving and new ideas, and that’s what we’re doing,” says Chelsie. “Education is the most important thing in our community.”

In January, they led their first workshop that was open to all educators in Hamilton County, not just the ones at their own school. At the session, “Engagement made easy,” Lauren and Cheslie connected with about 25 new teachers from all over the district, from all different grade levels.

They’re developing an online presence, too, with blog posts and tweets about classroom strategy. Their next big event, a full day workshop in June, is already in the making. A highlight of the workshop will be a guest lecture by Dwayne Reed, a 4th grade teacher in Chicago who created a viral rap video about school and has appeared on Good Morning America.

“It will be a professional development opportunity like Hamilton County has never seen before,” says Lauren. “They will have fun, and leave with real world things they can use in the classroom.”

We’re excited to see teachers brought into the fold in the Innovation District, and we can’t wait to see how they continue to improve education in Hamilton County.