By Tim Daly
Too often, great teaching is a well-kept secret.
At the end of the hall, there’s a math classroom where students who struggle elsewhere consistently flourish. There’s a band teacher who somehow creates championship ensembles of students who’ve never touched an instrument in their lives. There’s a physics class that propels graduate after graduate into top-tier universities. But outside the school—and sometimes inside, too—nobody really sees it.
As a country, we have done a shoddy job of giving these life-changing teachers and classrooms the recognition they deserve. And at a time when schools are more focused than ever on rigorous teaching and deep learning, we have to do better. We believe great teachers deserve our full attention.
That’s why TNTP created the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, a $25,000 annual award given to four incredible teachers—and the only national award exclusively for teachers in high-poverty public schools.
What makes the Fishman Prize special isn’t just that it rewards great teachers with a big check. We see the Fishman Prize as a way to bring together some of the country’s best educators, give them the opportunity to learn from each other, and allow the entire teaching profession to learn from them.
Every year, the winners collaborate during a month-long summer residency. They reflect on their classroom practices, explore the larger issues that shape their profession, and meet with top educators, writers, researchers, and policymakers. And they emerge having created something tangible, a collection of essays they’ve written in their own voices, about their work in the classroom.
Tim Daly is president of TNTP.