Contest: Win a Journey
Teacher-Driven Change, Strength-Based Models
The CTA Institute for Teaching mission is to enhance, support, and sustain high quality teaching and high quality public schools for all California students. Through mobilizing teachers, special programs, research, conferences, networking, and community-based coalitions, the Institute for Teaching seeks to advance public education and promote the common good of our students and communities.
The Institute for Teaching is attempting to bring a new approach to school change. Based on its work in California schools, with Foundations and from discussions with hundreds of practitioners and students, the IFT has determined that school change must include two key factors:
- It needs to be teacher-driven
- It should be based on what is working and successful in our schools and classrooms.
By focusing on what works in our schools, the IFT believes strength-based models for school change add a new dimension to school improvement. Strength-based models provide an asset-based approach that teachers can use to emphasize talents over weaknesses and strengths over deficits to create a learning environment that supports and encourages every student to do their best.
IFT discovered a new sense of optimism and accomplishment when teachers were empowered to describe and define what makes the teaching and learning process most successful. As a result, IFT is now helping chapters and members become experts on solutions, as they begin to change policy at the local level.
History and Background
In the beginning, the public education system involved women and men, who dedicated themselves to their students in one-room schools or to small groups who met to learn how to read and write, how to reason and recite, how to think and invent. Whether studying Aristotle or Plato, Latin or Greek—or how to plow a straight furrow or cook a simple meal—students came to school to seek new knowledge and new ways to live and work. They still do.
Today’s high schools have grown beyond one-room schools to become large institutions. Sometimes they are overcrowded, often under-funded, but thousands of students and teachers are succeeding every day in learning, achieving and progressing. The relationship that matters most in our schools today is the same that existed in those one-room schoolhouses: the relationship between teachers and students.
The CTA Institute for Teaching exists to support that relationship, to bolster its influence and provide an environment where these nurtured relationships can foster meaningful learning. IFT inspires the efforts of teachers and stakeholders to hold open the door for learning to take place. IFT facilitates new ways to encourage teachers to work together with others in the community to hold the space for revitalization of public education and a renewal of its commitment to excellence, allowing each and every student to achieve their goals.
The Institute was formed in 1967 by the CTA Board of Directors and established as a foundation—a 501(c)(3) corporation—to assist public education in ways that CTA alone was unable to address. Since 2008, IFT has come under the umbrella of the CTA Foundation for Teaching and Learning, an independent nonprofit organization that supports CTA sponsored scholarships, awards, grants and disaster relief supporting teachers and students across California.
IFT helps struggling students and schools by awarding innovation grants directly to CTA members and local chapters. To date, CTA members have funded 313 grant projects totaling more than $3.5 million. All CTA members are eligible to apply for an Educator grant (up to $5,000) or an Impact grant (up to $20,000).
The strength-based grants are designed for pre-K-12 teachers and certificated support staff, ESP members and college instructors. Proposals are reviewed through the lens of IFT’s strength-based matrix by an IFT Grant Selection committee composed of outstanding teachers. In the program’s first nine years, IFT awarded 354 grants totaling over $4 million.
The CTA Institute for Teaching congratulates the educators from the 42 local chapters that were selected as recipients of strength-based grants for the 2019-20 school year. The recipients were awarded grants totaling $597,703.17. The 132 IFT grant applications were evaluated based on their alignment with the Seven Factors in the IFT’s strength-based matrix (see illustrations above). Successful proposals had to score a minimum of 17 points on a 21-point scoring scale.
During the eight years of the grant program, the IFT has invested CTA members’ voluntary dues contributions in 313 teacher driven grant projects. This is a record year for grant applications, and the IFT is proud that the cumulative acceptance rate among grant applicants remains at over 40 percent. The total amount awarded to date now stands at $3.5 million.
Teacher Think Tanks & the Strength-Based HUB
IFT has organized a diverse set of CTA members to be part of IFT’s Regional Teacher Think Tanks. These ten regional Teacher Think Tanks give a voice to dozens of CTA members who are excellent classroom practitioners and passionate about sharing innovative ideas and building upon what works. Please join in the conversation by registering on the Think Tank’s social media platform, Strength-Based Hub.
Teacher Innovation Expo
The Expo, presented as part of the pre-Good Teaching Conferences, is designed as a showcase for exemplary IFT Grant recipients to present highlights of their strength-based projects to an audience of fellow teachers. It demonstrates that teachers have the capacity to innovate their practice and profession to connect communities with their classrooms in engaging ways.
Designed by IFT’s South Bay Teacher Think Tank members, Ovation! is intended to celebrate the daily contributions our members make in California public schools. Through this unique recognition effort, IFT is focusing on exemplary strength-based teaching. The toolkit was created so local chapter leaders will have a framework or model for building an effective Association member recognition program.
The Ovation Toolkit was created so local chapter leaders have a framework or model for building an effective Association member strength-based recognition program.
Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project
IFT supports home visits because they work and teachers have always done them. That practice has been enhanced with a strategic focus and collaboration dedicated to this proven strategy with positive outcomes for families, staff, and most importantly, students of all grade levels.
Positive Deviance & Other Strength-Based School Transformation Projects
IFT is looking to engage with members in schoolwide appreciative inquiry projects based on the identified strengths of the local school community. These field-based projects are locally designed and their successful outcomes are critical in demonstrating the efficacy of strength-based teacher driven change.
California School Garden Network
IFT supports CSGN’s mission to promote school gardens as a means “to enhance academic achievement, a healthy lifestyle, environmental stewardship, and community/social development.”
- Harnessing the Power of What Works
- CTA IFT Culture of Success
- Strength-Based Matrix
- Teacher Driven Strength-Based Change
- Strength-Based Learning During IFT Think Tank Gathering
- CTA Board member moved by IFT’s greenhouse grant
- Fontana Students Build Robots And More With CTA-IFT Grant
- CTA IFT Grant Helps Plant High School Greenhouse
- Community College Member’s Oral History Project Receives IFT Grant
- 4th-Graders Separated by 225 Miles Collaborate Through IFT Grant
IFT Board of Directors and Staff Support
Board of Directors
E. Toby Boyd, CTA President
David B. Goldberg, CTA Vice President
Leslie S. Littman, CTA Secretary—Treasurer
Erika Jones, CTA Board Member, District J
Mike Patterson, CTA Board Member, District D
Jayson Chang, Teacher | Member, East Side TA
Alejandro Cisneros, Teacher | Member, Alvord EA
Eric Enriquez, Teacher | Member, Hayward EA
Daniel Frank, Teacher | Member, Rocklin Teachers PA
Al Rabanera, Teacher | Member, Fullerton Secondary TO
Michelle Ramos, Teacher | Member, Covina Unified EA
Shanan Spears, Teacher | Member, River Delta Unified TA
Jennifer Villaryo, Teacher | Member, UTLA/NEA
Dr. Carl A. Cohn, Professor Emeritus, Claremont Graduate University
Joe Boyd, Executive Director, CTA
Wei Pan, Associate Executive Director/Controller, CTA
Anna Dilig, Accounting Manager, CTA
Dr. Norma Sanchez, IPD/IFT Manager
Dr. Anita Benitas, IFT Program Consultant
Jackie Hidalgo, IFT Program Specialist
BoMee Musetti, Field Services Specialist