Boston Debate League

Debate-Inspired Classrooms

Student discourse and agency. Vibrancy and engagement. Argumentation. Anti-racism. These are the elements of a debate-inspired classroom.

Through the Debate-Inspired Classrooms program, BDL’s Instructional Coaches work with teachers, school leaders, and entire school communities to cultivate exciting and buzzing classrooms in which students experience both rigor and joy in learning.

When schools partner with Debate-Inspired Classrooms, our experienced team of Instructional Coaches provide professional development and 1:1 support to educators, across content areas, from upper elementary through high school. With the support of our team, educators utilize the Debate-Inspired Classrooms instructional approach, creating classroom communities where students build argumentation skills; talk with, question, and collaborate with each other; and lead and learn from one another. These are essential skills in anti-racist classrooms where students and teachers are both leaders and learners.

"Debate-Inspired Classrooms definitely has influenced me to consider equitable and engaging ways to hook students into content and to find more opportunities for student-led learning."

- Debate-Inspired Classroom Teacher

The impetus for the BDL’s Debate-Inspired Classrooms program came from the Boston Public Schools (BPS), who tasked the BDL with figuring out a way for more students in member schools to gain the tremendous academic and social benefits of debate.

In consultation with the BPS Academic Superintendent for High Schools and the leaders of our member schools, the BDL concluded that the most effective way to bring debate’s benefits to all students would be through a coordinated professional development program that trains teachers to employ debate as a pedagogical tool in their classrooms across all academic disciplines.

Over the past decade, the BDL has partnered with 14 Boston Public Schools, more than 500 middle and high school teachers, and 7,000 students in multi-year collaborations dedicated to fostering classrooms centered in student agency, discourse, critical thinking, and collaboration.

To learn more about two partnership models – whole-school and teacher cohorts – contact