The Inspiring Way is the living philosophy. In sharing it we are setting out the guiding principles we aspire live up to.
We each have just one life to live; how we spend it matters. Over the last decade at Inspiring Teachers, we’ve learned that people find their meaning by contributing to something bigger than themselves.
Contribution is what happens because of our efforts that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. It’s ‘additionality’, and pursuing it takes committing to a journey to become better versions of ourselves.
At Inspiring Teachers, we’ve learned that contribution is a journey best shared. When we build from and combine our unique strengths, our individual weaknesses become refreshingly irrelevant, and can accomplish things we never could alone.
Along our journey, we found that sometimes we were more effective at working together than others. We realised that if we wanted to build a great organisation, we needed to be deliberate about the culture we were creating. We started recording the things we thought unlocked our breakthroughs also the lessons we wanted to take from the times when we got things wrong. Today, we’ve distilled those lessons as a set of values and principles that we call the Inspiring Way.
The Inspiring Way in not a rule book; it’s a lens for making good decisions and a mirror to reflect with. It sets out guardrails to help us stay on track. It’s our living philosophy, and it describes the culture we are working to create.
There are two ways of sharing culture. There’s articulating it and there’s living it.
Articulating The Inspiring Way
We build the Inspiring Way around our core values: Learning, Resourcefulness, Teamwork, and Trust. We’ve learned to value these things because of the impact we’ve seen them have over the years. We like to say “we are what we do” — it’s our actions that define us. So to make our values practical, we accompany each with four liveable principles.
During the section that follows we set out how we bring those values and principles to life through how we work with each of our three groups: our partners, our team, and teachers who join our programs.
We learn best by doing and getting feedback. We’re impact driven and committed to always learning.
Learning is the foundation of empowerment. It shapes the life a person can lead and determines the difference they can make. Our mission is to improve learning outcomes in low-resource contexts, so learning is our North Star.
But in pursuit of our mission, the challenges that need solving are stubborn, the problems so thorny that we can’t afford to leave our own learning to chance.
Learning takes graft and a deliberate effort to cultivate curiosity and commit the time to teaching each other. And because the most powerful learning, often comes in the form of feedback, it takes courage.
With our partners, we’ve learned is that we often won’t get it right the first time. So, when we start a program, we identify what we want to learn and then build mechanisms into our designs to make the insights flow. We always ask how we can be better.
We design our programs by combining what insights on what the most effective teachers do with learnings from empirical research on motivation, learning, and human behaviour. These building blocks enable us to design programs that have clear mechanisms for how we expect them to work. We then test these and refine our programs through a process of continual improvement.
Turning obstacles into opportunities and working together with passion and intensity; we go the distance.
Resourcefulness isn’t a trait. It’s a mindset we can each cultivate. If necessity is the mother of all innovation, resourcefulness is the father and working in the constrained contexts we do; being resourceful has been key to our breakthroughs.
As a team, we work in one of the most resource constrained sectors there is, but over time we’ve learned that to embrace constraints and approach them as an opportunity to innovate. Seeing problems as innovation gaps frees us to reimagine obstacles as opportunities and find solutions that are simple enough and cheap enough to work. Often that’s meant drawing insights from beyond education, and its depended on us being resourceful about the team we build.
We believe, in the power of win-wins partnerships. Today, we work with some terrific organisations, and we try to honour the work they do by being a powerful building tools and programs that give them leverage.
We’ve classrooms of spellbound children thanks to ingenuity of educator in low-resource contexts. But we don’t kid ourselves. Teachers in low-resource contexts face a tremendous challenge. Our mindset is to give them a tailwind. We try to make our programs and tools that make great teaching easier. We try to make them so good that they remind teachers of their importance and instil a deep sense of pride.
Listening hard, speaking candidly, and recognising diversity as our greatest strength, we go out of our way for each other.
Great teamwork is selfless. It takes listening hard, saying what we believe, and redefining our own success as each other’s.
That diversity makes us stronger is core to our teamwork philosophy. As well as giving us a broader toolset, diversity helps us create an inclusive, and energising and renewing culture that nurtures ideas and makes people feel proud to belong.
When building partnerships we start by listening. That helps us create a vivid vision for the future we are working to towards together. Then, go above and beyond to make it a reality. It isn’t easy, it always generates more energy that it takes.
We believe helping teachers in low-resource contexts better support each other is one of the greatest impact opportunities of our time. That’s why we are excited about peer coaching and instructional leaders.
Working with transparency and by being accountable, we spark collaborations that make great impact possible.
Trust and teamwork interdepend like Ying and Yang. Teamwork builds trust and trust, lays the foundations for teamwork. Trust makes it possible to say and hear the hardest things and gives us the confidence to navigate ambiguity.
We build trust through making ourselves accountable and along the way we’ve learned to be open when things go wrong as well as when they go right.
Creating conditions for trust is a core part of our work supporting teachers. Being coached is an act of faith. It only when a teacher feels safe to take risks and try new things that they can really focus on mastery. We are deliberate about creating a culture of support rather than judgement in all our programs.
Living The Inspiring Way
In written form, the Inspiring Way is just a set of aspirations. It’s our actions — how we live and work together differently because of it — that will make it real.
We won’t live up to every principle in every moment. What matters is that we try. Greatness is, after all, a journey.
When we strive to live the Inspiring Way, we’ll be making our contribution, and because nothing leads as well as example, we’ll be helping others make theirs.
Trying to live the Inspiring Way is hard, but it’s worth it. Because the greatest meaning, the greatest satisfaction, the greatest contribution comes from striving together for something that matters. Something you believe in.