Three educators take a yearlong road trip to see what teachers are doing right. See what they found.

Two years ago, in the wake of Davis Guggenheim’s acclaimed documentary “Waiting for Superman,” The Odyssey Initiative began its journey from pipe dream to fruition. In the documentary, Bill Gates is quoted as saying, “The status quo can be changed, but it takes outrage and good examples.” As teachers, we knew that there was outrage about the state of education in America. Griping about our nation’s schools has almost become a pastime, and with very good reason. However, we found the solutions being offered to save our educational system were often given by those who had little or no practical experience in teaching and learning and were far removed from the everyday workings of a classroom. The three of us, all educators, knew that the good examples existed. We believed that successful practices to support student learning were out there, being invented and utilized by dedicated, passionate educational professionals across America. To help our country’s education system evolve, we founded The Odyssey Initiative to research and showcase these strong examples of teaching happening on a daily basis in our nation’s schools.

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www.odysseyinitiative.org
Explore The Odyssey Initiative with videos, blogs, and an interactive map that follows the journey of Michelle Healy and her two colleagues.

We planned The Odyssey Initiative with multiple goals in mind. As educators, it was frustrating to hear the negative, inaccurate generalizations made about our profession, our effectiveness, and our motivations for choosing education as our line of work. The Odyssey Initiative’s first goal was to raise the level of conversation surrounding the teaching profession by sharing the thoughts and opinions of teachers and showcasing the thoughtful, complex work they did on a daily basis to ensure that each of their students learned. We hoped that collecting the stories and experiences of educators would help shift the narrative of educators portrayed by the general media.

Our second goal was to observe, document, and share practices that effective teachers and schools use to support student learning in an effort to positively contribute to the conversation about the state of America’s education system. After a year of travel and observation, we would create a school in our home base of Brooklyn, N.Y., that incorporated some of the best practices we recorded on the road.

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