Nurturing Teacher Excellence: A Journey of Learning and Leadership

A Deeper View of Teacher Appreciation

0.2019.incsummit.stacy.2It’s back to school time, and the number of stories of unfilled positions I’m hearing from my educator friends is making me uneasy. When schools and classrooms are short-staffed, it’s easy to let go of the need to prioritize teacher professional development. But as the famous old book goes, “if you don’t feed the teachers, they’ll eat the students.” While this is tongue-in-cheek, it’s a phrase that has stuck with me for years.  Nurturing and feeding educators is not just about free coffee, healthy snacks, contracts, salary increases, teacher appreciation gifts, or flexible schedules; it’s about investing in them as professionals and expert learners. When teachers are not given sacred and scheduled time to stretch their practices and learn new skills, they forget the four stages of competence their students endure regularly. 

Providing a full range of training for skills and content that support true development (and PD that teachers WANT to attend!) is a true challenge for districts given staff shortages, mindshare, and a variety of reasons. So, what’s the answer?


An Approach to Integrated Professional Development

One of the pillars of all seven of our programs at Uncharted Learning is professional development for teachers—Curriculum, Teacher Training, and Ongoing Support.   This ‘feeding’ teachers with high-impact PD2022.munster.article.3-1 ultimately supports student outcomes. We believe that professional development supports skill advancement in content and instructional strategies and can be a source of inspiration and a re-igniting of a teacher’s love for the craft.  We believe this because we see it.  When teachers are inspired by their learning and leveling up, their students benefit from a motivated and energized educator; and administrators gain a more engaged and happy educator. 

“As educators, nothing brings us more satisfaction than seeing our students succeed, and the satisfaction of seeing them figure out a solution to a question or problem doesn’t come close to the joy that comes from seeing them come up with the problem or question themselves in the first place.” 

~Kimberley Harrington Markus, former New Jersey Commissioner of Education

We structure professional development to provide...

  1. Exposure and learning from real-world entrepreneurs and industry leaders
  2. Leadership opportunities centered on collaboration and community
  3. Mentorship for teachers new to Uncharted Learning
  4. Celebration and reward for contribution


1. Inspiration from industry leaders

In addition to ongoing PD led by the Uncharted Learning team, we alsoSummit-Teachers offer opportunities to gain new knowledge from working entrepreneurs. Our annual National Summit conference offers teachers a chance to learn from industry leaders like Ariana Vargas, Neal Sales-Griffin, and Don Bora - it’s practice over theory, stories of failure vs. facts.


2. Leveling up through collaboration

We also offer leadership and growth opportunities by sharing with others vs. gaining NEW knowledge. Our teacher virtual meetups allow Uncharted Learning educators to share best practices and exchange ideas. We live in a time when our students' futures are increasingly based on the skills they develop. Educators are encouraged to stretch beyond their current skills and even be uncomfortable since that's where growth happens!  Teachers themselves must model for their students' lifelong learning. 


3. Growth through mentoring and reflection

Even when working with adult learners, one of the best ways to learn is to teach. When a teacher with three or more years of experience summit-2022-teacher-joyin teaching INCubatoredu mentors a newcomer to the program, they not only find joy in assisting someone new but also gain valuable insights into their own growth and development. Likewise, teachers participating in our in-person and virtual meetups benefit from reviewing student work in a group setting. They can assess how their ability to help students make faster progress has improved over time or because of specific changes in instruction. 


4. Recognition to inspire and motivate

Most educators are intrinsically motivated to learn so their students and community can benefit.  And, we recognize that acknowledgment and reward for contribution can accelerate and motivate teachers to stretch their limits, so we created three tiers of recognition. In the end, we all win! What we at Uncharted learn from teachers informs continual improvement of our materials and resources; and the opportunities we offer educators allow them to grow and formally showcase their skills, creating a dynamic professional learning community.


"I like mentoring and helping out the new INCubatoredu teachers. Giving them what's worked for me, what hasn't worked for me."

- Brad Neubauer, Teacher, Naperville Central High School

Strong Teacher Professional Development has Many Benefits

Good PD isn’t just for intervention—It’s for professional growth, addressing retention, and increasing job satisfaction of the important people leading our students. When educators are growing and recognized, they may feel more purposeful.

At Uncharted Learning, we encourage and celebrate teachers as learners. Keep reading for a spotlight on some of this year’s newly recognized teachers.

Educator Spotlight

Certified Teacher—JamieLyn Johnson, Harrison Junior School, Southwest Local Schools, OH

JamieLynFor those educators who demonstrate commitment to ongoing learning by attending multiple learning events in an academic year, we recognize them as “Certified” Teachers. These teachers are active learners who model continuous learning and actively participate in a program-specific professional learning community. 

As a first-year mxINCedu teacher, JamieLyn Johnson took the job of learning for her students seriously. She attended the mxINCedu bootcamp with a cohort of other educators launching the program in their schools. Throughout the school year, she took advantage of resources, like 1-1- coaching and leveraging the mxINCedu educator community’s discussion board. After learning by doing, JamieLyn returned for more at the 2023 Uncharted Learning National Summit, where she had more opportunities to collaborate and elevate her entrepreneurship knowledge. We’re excited to hear about JamieLyn’s students as she enters her 2nd year with the program. 


Leader Teacher—Revenia Lock, Emerson High School, Frisco ISD, TX

Revenia LockFrom the moment she joined INCubatoredu, Revenia stood out as a force for good as she committed to learning and mastering the INCubatoredu program and also stepping up as a leader, willing to help peers engage more students in entrepreneurship.  She was one of four teachers in Frisco ISD to launch INCubatoredu and brought INCubatoredu to a 5th school in the 2022-23 school year. As she enters her 6th year of teaching INC and 3rd of teaching second-year course, ACCELeratoredu, she continues to lead by offering support to teachers new to the program as an 'INC Pro', a mentor to a new INCubatoredu teacher. Revenia is always willing to open her classroom and share what she knows. We’re impressed by her leadership and look forward to seeing what her students achieve.


MobileMakersEdu Master Teacher - Shaugn Davenport | Jacobs High School, Community Unit School District 300, IL

Shaugn DAfter several years in a tech career, Shaughn decided it was time to teach, and we couldn’t be happier that his first years in education has aligned with his school's innovative programs launch. In 2019-20, Shaugn helped launch the INCubatoredu program at high school, continuing with the program in 2020-21, when we also trained to teach MobileMakersEdu. Shaugn stands out as a leader and giver—someone willing to share when they learn, create, and fail. He is a known figure in our MobileMakersEdu teacher community, answers questions in Slack, shows up to any and all learning events, and asks tough questions. His willingness to pilot our SwiftUI materials with students has led to great learning that will impact even more students. We’re grateful for his contributions and look forward to Mr. Davenport’s new learnings and creations.