The Teachers Edition

June 11, 2015  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

Note: During the summer, The Teachers Edition is published every other week.

"Seize the Carpe"

In his message to high school and college graduates, Kid President encourages viewers, “Be your own Beyoncé!”

A Kid President Message

Dear Graduates,

The latest Kid President video released by Soul Pancake includes the Kid's usual heap of encouraging words and quirky quips for graduates. Some of our favorites: 

  • “Life is like a sandwich. It’s all in how you make it. So fill it with the good stuff!”
  • “Be your own Beyoncé!”
  • “If at first you don’t succeed, you’re normal.”
  • “I don’t want to make you sad, but from what I’ve learned, school never ends.”

international report

Improving the Teaching Profession 

Common Ground

The Asia Society’s recently-released report from the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in Banff, Canada indicates that though many countries are far apart geographically, they are united in their focus on improving teaching as a profession. The report lists 11 key themes that emerged, including:

• better collaboration between government and professional teaching

• an increasingly career-long focus on the teaching profession, with an emphasis on professional learning

• renewed efforts to work with higher education on the pipeline of teachers coming into the profession, the quality of their preparation, and their classroom readiness

• greatly increased attention on meeting the needs of every child, especially poor, cultural minority, and special needs children, and ensuring that teachers can meet those needs, including expansion of early learning opportunities.

According to the report,"Teacher leadership was a major theme of discussion throughout the Summit, part of a wide interest among participants in different models of school and system organization and leadership that would enable teachers to play a more central role in the transformation of teaching and learning and in the development of policies that affect their work.”

Teach to Lead update

Leadership in Action

Diversity in Teaching. On the website, Sharif El-Mekki, Principal Ambassador Fellow and principal of Mastery Charter School (Philadelphia), penned this blog about recruiting male teachers of color for the benefit of all students.

Supporters Soar to 77. The Literacy Design Collaborative has joined the Teach to Lead effort as our 77th supporting organization. Check out the complete roster


High Standards and Tribal Cultural Relevance 

In a bit of an unusual move, Miccosukee Indian School in Florida has been granted an NCLB waiver so it may come up with its own definition of adequate yearly progress. The school is operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), which is under the Department of the Interior and generally serves students living on tribal lands. Florida—like 41 other states and the District of Columbia—already has an NCLB waiver, but the BIE does not. It applied back in September of 2012, but its application is still under review. ED granted the one-of-a-kind tribal or school waiver that calls for high standards but includes a focus on culturally relevant content, including proficiency in the Miccosukee language (Alyson Klein, EdWeek).

Did you know?

Taking a Second Look

Effects of Parent Triggers

Several stories emerged recently examining the effects of the parent trigger laws in California. Critics had argued that the parent triggers were a front for efforts to expand charter schools and private interests in education. What's actually happening is that parents are using the law to create incentives for schools and districts to improve.

Andrew Rotherham (Eduwonk) writes, "One of the leaders of it told me that it was the threat of the trigger and empowerment of parents that would prove to be the real leverage point rather than actual usage of it."

Check out other articles by Brenda Iasevoli (Hechinger) and Travis Pillow (redefinED blog).

smiling sun

Nominate a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics launched a national call for Bright Spots in Hispanic Education. Bright Spots are evidence-based programs, models, organizations, or initiatives that invest in key education priorities for Hispanics and are helping close the achievement gap. 

Approved Bright Spots will be included in a national online catalog that will be released in September during their 25th anniversary celebration. Bright Spot nominations are due July 17, 2015. 

P Chat

Principal Chat

Deeper Learning Environments. A new paper, Preparing Leaders for Deeper Learning, released jointly by Getting Smart and Digital Promise, makes a case for creating programs that cultivate school and district leaders who will promote deeper learning in schools. The paper is the fourth in a Getting Smart series that investigates increasing focus on deeper learning.

Equitable Access to Effective Principals. A new policy snapshot, Supporting and Retaining Effective Principalsfrom the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, provides an overview of the limited research on principal impact and the influences on principals’ career paths and identifies potential strategies that states should consider to reduce principal turnover.

Common Core Connections

 "Shameless Politicking?" As the new state standards turned five this week, Bellwether's Andrew Rotherham penned this interesting opinion piece in U.S. News about politicians' frequently moving stance on the Common Core. 

• Trusting Teachers. The teachers at ED can't help but love an article about state policymakers listening to teachers, especially when it begins this way: "They stopped bickering, after three years, because everyone finally found faith. Not in their own arguments for or against Common Core, but in educators' professional judgment."

Jessica Williams's coverage of Louisiana's end to Common Core conflict is worth a read, partly because of Education Superintendent John White's revelation that they reached a compromise by listening to teachers and trusting them. Read the article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Bailey teacher

Editor's note: The following is part of a series reporting on excellent African American educators. Educators were selected by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Indira Bailey

Celebrating African American Educators: Sharing Art's Power

Indira Bailey is a visual art teacher at Essex County Vocational School in Bloomfield, NJ and an extraordinary artist.

 Why and how did you decide upon a career in education?

Art became my savior when I was 16; it was at that age that I witnessed the death of my parents. My artwork became my source of healing; it was the only way I could express my feelings of grief. Because of this, I have dedicated my life to helping students have similar world-changing, eye-opening experiences through art.

What is the one thing you most celebrate about your students?

I celebrate their achievements and awards in art. I have several students win gold medals in art on the state level and travel across the country to compete nationally. I celebrate when my students “got it” and wanted to take pictures of the work to show their family and friends.

In what ways do you encourage parents, family members, and other caring adults to support the learning and development of African American students?

I involve parents and family members to support their child in the NAACP ACT-SO Competition. I have parents that became volunteers based on their child’s positive experience.

Core Knowledge for Parents

"Parents need to know that the Common Core provides ways for all students to learn, regardless of their background or poverty."

VIVA teacher Therese Gordon (Toledo, Ohio) during a meeting at ED to discuss teachers' recommendations in Common Core State Standards: The Key to Student Success

Quote to Note

the New Math

Per-Pupil Spending 

Following the Money 

Average per-student spending was $10,700 in 2013, but the average masks a wide variation, ranging from $6,555 per pupil in Utah to $19,818 in New York.

According to a Washington Post article analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau (Brown), there’s an even larger range separating the lowest- and highest-spending of the nation’s largest 100 school districts: at the low end is Jordan, Utah, at $5,708 per student; at the high end is Boston, Mass., at $20,502. 

Part of the variation in spending is due to the huge differences in costs of living nationwide, post-recession economic realities, and "political decisions to invest more or less in schools, or to do more or less to equalize education spending across low- and high-income areas."

Download the census data.

Character Day

Plan Now For Fall

Make Ripples Internationally

Plant a seed now for an exciting event happening this fall. Join Character Day on September 18, 2015, where schools around the globe simultaneously premiere short, powerful and entertaining films on character education, dive into resources from scientists, educators, and media experts, and join an online global Google Hangout exploring how to live meaningful, successful, and purposeful lives in today’s 24/7 world. Films from the Emmy-nominated filmmakers such as The Science of Character (available now), The Adaptable Mind, and The Making of a Mensch will be shown.

Participation and materials are no cost. Last year over 1,500 schools participated. The sign up for Character Day takes two minutes.

TAF and PAF news

• Toni Hull (2012 Classroom Fellow) is an Assistant Principal at Mesa Middle School (Las Cruces, N.M.) and has been selected as a Woodrow Wilson MBA fellow.

• Ryan Vernosh (2012 Classroom Fellow) was promoted to interim director of Saint Paul (Minn.) Public Schools’ Office of Communications and Outreach. He will be overseeing all the district's internal and external communications, coordinating and aligning funders, advising the Superintendent, working in direct partnership with the Mayor and Governor's office, and coordinating outreach events. 

green schools

Green Ribbon Awardees

Schools Recognized for Earth Friendly Efforts  

Fifty-eight schools and 14 districts, as well as 9 colleges and universities were honored as ED's 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and first-ever Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. These sustainability leaders are ensuring that their students learn to live, work, and play with sustainability and health in mind, not as an afterthought, but as an integral part of everything they undertake, from cradle to career. 

White House Council on Environmental Quality Managing Director Christy Goldfuss and NOAA Director of Education Louisa Koch joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to congratulate the winners. View the list and the annual highlights report summarizing the work of each of them. 

Schools can learn more about how to get into the clean, green movement on a new and improved Green Strides website, which features resources and webinars for all schools to go green, as well as all past honorees. The new and improved website is sponsored by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council.

mcAuliffe and math

Teacher Krista McAtee engages students in graphing a real-world scenario.

Critical Math Tasks 

Collaborating on Real World Math

The Teaching Channel has a video series produced in conjunction with Illustrative Mathematics and Smarter Balanced Consortium that shows the power of collaboration among teachers to develop, implement, and reflect on critical math tasks and lessons. In this video, Krista McAtee helps her students understand math concepts by leveraging models and real-world experiences, such as a ball being tossed back and forth.  

Students' Corner

Tools for Students

Understanding Emotions. A new Disney movie, Inside Out, helps kids figure out what's going on inside their heads. These activities and games for younger children let them have fun while learning to understand their emotions. 

Intern at ED? An internship at the U.S. Department of Education is one of the best ways students can learn about education policy and working in the civil service. Read Ohio State University student Michelle Fugate's blog about the valuable internship she had in ED's press office, and fill out an applications for a Fall 2015 internship through July 15, 2015.


Good Stuff for Eduwonks

Fairly Distributing and Compensating Effective Teachers

ED's Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service issued a report, "Providing Effective Teachers for All Students: Examples from Five Districts," (2012) using data on student achievement growth to identify effective teachers, distribute them, particularly in high-need schools, and implement performance pay initiatives. The report focuses on case studies of five school districts.

Key Findings:

  • All five districts used student achievement growth as one measure of teacher effectiveness for some or all teachers. In addition, four districts used new or revised observation‑based assessments in conjunction with achievement growth, or were in the process of developing them.
  • All five districts used their measures of teacher effectiveness in some human resource policies. For example, four districts used effectiveness information in performance pay initiatives.
  • Three of the five districts had policies that targeted high‑need schools, drawing on effectiveness information.
  • All three offered financial incentives to teachers to move to or stay in high‑need schools.
  • One district had hiring and transfer policies designed to provide principals in high‑need schools additional opportunities to hire effective teachers. 
  • The five districts' efforts suggest a number of key challenges that other districts and states may need to address as they consider using measures of teacher effectiveness. For example, interviewees noted challenges in implementing classroom observation systems that were both rigorous and manageable in terms of scheduling complexity and time required.

English Learners

Language, Background, Culture 

Language and Social Skills. All cultures have specific norms of behavior that are manifested through social skills. This article focuses on the issues of Social Emotional Learning and how this is even more necessary for English learners. It also provides with a list of vocabulary related to social skills that can be taught and practiced in the classroom (Erick Herrmann, MultiBriefs). 

What's the Top Home Language for ELLs? The answer: Some states have a language other than Spanish as the top language spoken by language-learner students. Reports released by the Migration Policy Institute and Middlebury Interactive Languages shed light on the top home language for ELLs and the highest number of ELLs in different state schools (Corey Mitchell, EdWeek).

Five Myths of ELLs. Identifying myths in English Language classrooms will help teachers meet students’ needs and be able to serve them better. Take a look at myths in English Language classrooms that are often seen as normal practice (Rasul Alrubail, Edutopia).  

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• Reflection in Student Teaching Teaches Candidate and "Mama Bear." Veteran Georgia teacher LaSaundra Colson Wade was initially skeptical about using edTPA to frame her work with student teacher Brianna Plachy from Armstrong Atlantic State University, but the experience turned out well for both her and the candidate. The edTPA rubrics (the first nationally accessible preservice teacher assessment and support program) provided a valuable framework for discussions, and Plachy's adjustment was easier than past student teachers (McKee,

 • How to Build an Opportunity Culture. Public Impact's Emily Ayscue Hassell and Bryan Hassell offer North Carolina's education leaders and legislators some sound strategies to magnify the impact of great teachers in the state. Their thesis: "North Carolina will never make the educational strides it needs until the best educators have far greater impact for a lot more pay." Read their article in the Raleigh News & Observer

• The Sun, the Moon, the Stars. The increased daylight at this time of the year may promote kids’ curiosity about the universe and our solar system. Spark kids’ interest with these activities from FREE: The Solar System: 5 Ways Kids Can Learn More.

• More Equitable Evaluations. As states work toward improving equitable access to excellent educators, refining teacher evaluation system implementation is a critical strategy. Teacher leaders can use Intensifying Implementation Support: An Interactive Guide to Successful Teacher Evaluation for Professional Growthto identify challenges and solutions that will make their state or district’s process more transparent and effective.

• Webinar on Equity Strategies for Students with Disabilities. Watch and learn more about improving educator preparation policy and practice as a strategy for states to consider as they seek innovative ways to strengthen their equity plans for students with disabilities. 

• Are national civil rights groups "unwitting participants in a plot to injure the nation's most vulnerable children"? Not so, according to Ed Trust's Kati Haycock, who wrote an impassioned opinion piece about the importance of assessments that indicate how our most vulnerable students are learning


Recommended Reading

• A Better Way to Fight Bullying. Pennsylvania counselor Lisa Fulton found that separating middle school boys from the girls was a better approach when presenting lessons about bullying. She realized that there are big differences in the type of bullying experienced by each gender, so she tailored her approach. Read more about Fulton's lessons and the significant gains in student awareness and the decline in bullying behavior as a result of the single-sex curriculum. (Marshall Memo, ASCA School Counselor).

• "Hello, New Orleans!" Richard Whitmire penned this insightful look at what is being described as the "new normal" in education in New Orleans, LA (Real Clear Education). According to Whitmire, the new normal isn't about test scores, or graduation rates, or even attendance. It has to do with a unique blend of "old-school traditions with new school academics." 

Questions or comments about The Teachers Edition? Send them to ED's Teacher Liaison, Laurie Calvert:

2015 Inductees in the National Teacher Hall of Fame

2015 inductees in the National Teacher Hall of Fame, with Arne Duncan in May. Pictured left to right: Richard T. Ognibene, Susan M. Rippe, Brigitte Tennis, Patricia Jordan and Ben Talley.  

Top 5 Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. Reflecting on the growing job of principals: "You've got to delegate or die. Constantly ask yourself, 'Is this a hill worth dying on?'" (Assistant Principal, Tennessee)

4. "One of the most critical pieces for a new teacher is for [him or] her to feel not so much evaluated as supported." (Teacher, Hawaii)

3. "If we want to enlarge the talent pool for teaching, we need to do something about the prestige of the profession and teachers' salaries." (Teacher, Arizona)

2. Reflecting on the role often relegated to male teachers of color: "Do administrators see us as experts or as overseers? Too often we are there simply to take care of the difficult students of color." (Teacher, Pennsylvania)

1. "At the end of the day, we have an obligation to educate all children. It's not a matter of 'will we?' but 'how will we?'" (Assistant Principal, Maryland)