Classroom Champions started with a very simple idea: use technology to connect under-served kids with successful people who can teach them how to accomplish their dreams.
In the years since Olympic gold medalist Steve Mesler and his sister Leigh Mesler Parise, PhD, came with that idea the organization has grown into an award-winning, international non-profit that matches thousands of K-8 students across North America with a year-long Olympian or Paralympian classroom mentor. Our high achieving mentors are trained to create monthly video lessons for their classes, conduct twice-yearly live chats, and use social media to teach the students the mindset and the habits of successful people. The relationships formed between the students and the mentors help the children strive toward their own dreams.
As a result of participating in Classroom Champions students exhibit a marked positive impact on their engagement in school, their interpersonal skills, and their digital literacy. Teachers report that they also feel more engaged in their jobs, are more likely to serve as teacher leaders at their schools, and are more likely to use technology while teaching.
It’s a whole lot of moving parts to explain to someone.
This is especially true when communicating with teachers who want to know if they would be good candidates for the annual competitive application process. As I planned for our teacher application season this Spring, I needed to find an engaging way to explain the details of the program to time pressed teachers.
In a perfect world, the same communication tool could also fill a request from our current teachers for a way to share about Classroom Champions at professional development meetings, conferences, and within their professional networks.
Prezi made it possible for us to step right into that perfect world.
Our team worked to create a script that the Prezi designers made into a tool that is succinct, engaging, and reflects our visionary approach to using technology. The Prezi they created gives a wonderful overview of the history and the impact of the organization, how the program works within the classroom, and how teachers and students benefit from participating. Our Prezi even includes a video lesson example for each of our monthly topics, and a call to action at the end.
A link to our Prezi is now one of the ways we introduce Classroom Champions to teachers, principals, and other education leaders. We also connected it right to our teacher application webpage. Potential CC teachers are now well informed about the organization, and their applications demonstrate a better understanding of the mission, the mechanics, and the impacts of the program than we have ever seen.
In addition, current Classroom Champions teachers have been using the Prezi as the basis for presentations in staff meetings and training days in areas as diverse as Camden, Toronto, and the Bay Area. The responses from their colleagues have been universally very positive. Our teachers are really enjoying having such a fun, professional way to talk to their peers about a program that plays a significant role in their classrooms. In turn, teachers who have seen the Prezi at these meetings are applying to be Classroom Champions teachers themselves. This year we have seen a large number of candidates who applied because they know another teacher who told them about the program.
Prezi has been a very effective tool for us. In a significant way, it has given us a vehicle for introducing people to the details that make the accomplishment of that original simple idea possible. Our Prezi shows how we help kids dream big, and achieve their dreams.
Heatherle Chambers is the Education Development Manager for Classroom Champions. She became involved with the organization as a teacher in the program for three years. Heatherle spent nearly twenty years teaching in low income public schools in Portland, Oregon.