Collaborative Communities Support Progressive Teaching

By Jenny Burns, Community Coordinator for Allen Distinguished Educators
February 19, 2016

Teachers want and deserve meaningful networking opportunities with like-minded educators as they break through barriers to create change and pioneer more forward-thinking practices in education. The Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE) program is working to support a growing community of educators who are seeking out colleagues with whom to share resources and ideas. “The number one benefit of the ADE program is dedicated time with like-minded colleagues,” says Scott Swaaley, a high school teacher at High Tech High, San Diego and 2014 ADE.

“I share thoughts, ask for ideas from colleagues, or ask for critique at least 10 times a day, nearly every day…I can't imagine teaching without this kind of collaboration, especially with like-minded folk. It keeps us fresh, informed, motivated, and always learning. With technology these days, it's easy to find that collaboration online,” explains Scott.

The ADE program is supporting teacher collaborations across the nation to accelerate change and enable the spread innovation in education through a variety of open-source educator resources including Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Guides, Microdocumentaries, ADE Roadmaps and online discussions on the website and through social media. These resources were designed to encourage the sharing of innovative projects and educational programs, and to foster a supportive network of educators. 
“During the pilot phase of the ADE program in 2014, we were inspired by the quality of organic collaboration between ADEs.” says Dave Ferrero, Senior Program Officer in Education at Vulcan Inc. “Providing opportunities for teachers to share advice and lesson resources with each other is a critical feature of the program for us.” 
School culture and support from administration are also key factors to promoting collaboration between teachers. “We believed, here at Riverpoint Academy, that if we were going to truly do interdisciplinary work, we needed to radically collaborate,” says 2014 ADE recipient Regan Drew, a founding teacher at Riverpoint Academy in Mead, WA, in her ADE video roadmap on Collaborating with a Teaching Partner. Regan is an advocate for promoting teacher collaboration and explains, “Too often we can allow ourselves to be on ‘an island.’ That notion is not good, we have to find those bridges… whether it be for help on solving challenges, exploration for new project/ideas, or getting feedback.... Connecting ourselves with others is critical.”

Teachers, parents, and school administrators are welcome and encouraged to join the ADE community. Visit to learn more and subscribe to the ADE newsletter for news and program updates from the ADE program.

About Allen Distinguished Educators Program

Inspire. Enable. Empower. The Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE) Program engages teachers in greater innovation around computer science, engineering and/or entrepreneurship. The work of ADE-recognized teachers can lead to new opportunities in classrooms across the nation. A Paul G. Allen initiative, the program includes: a $25,000 award, do-it-yourself project guides, grants for DIY projects, microdocumentaries and video roadmaps for implementing an ADE Program.

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