The Teachers Edition

June 25, 2015 |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 

In this Issue...

1917 chalkboard

Unearthed during an Emerson High School (Oklahoma City) renovation, beneath the current boards, sat another set of chalkboards — untouched since 1917. This one depicts a calendar and marks the celebration of Thanksgiving. 

Preserved 1917 Classroom 

Vintage Chalkboards Rediscovered

As Emerson High School began renovations to convert chalkboards to smart boards, they discovered beneath them a slice of American life from nearly 100 years ago! School officials said the subject matter and style found on boards in the four rooms mirror one another, depicting "an aligned curriculum in 1917." Built in 1895, the school has undergone many renovations, but nothing like this was ever found. Read about the lessons from American history, a unique mathematics wheel, and discover the beauty of the writing and drawing preserved from long ago. Watch the video that shows educators talking about the discovery

The Teaching Profession

Teach to Lead update

EdCamp. Check out this highlight reel from last month's EdCamp, held at the U.S. Department of Education. An educator from Burlington, Vermont, said, "EdCamp is cool because it really democratizes the conversation, and I have the opportunity to be heard as equally as anyone else."

Leadership is Great: We've Reached 78. Educators for High Standards joined the list of Teach to Lead official supporters bringing the latest count to 78. Check out the complete roster

the New Math

Barriers to Learning 

Costs to Teachers

88% of teachers say that poverty is a barrier to learning

When asked to identify and rank problems facing their local schools, teachers say that poverty and manifestations of poverty are major barriers. Among teachers, 89 percent identify chronic absenteeism, and 85% cite poor student health, as issues affecting learning.

According to the report issued by Communities In Schools and Public Opinion Strategies:

This impact of poverty is so great that teachers themselves are overwhelmed helping students address non-educational issues.

  • 91% of teachers spend their own money on supplies.
  • 54% of teachers have used their own money to help feed students.
  • 52% of teachers have helped a student and/or their family through a crisis.
  • 49% of teachers have helped a student get new clothing or footwear.
  • Nearly one-third (29%) of teachers have arranged for a student to receive medical attention. 

TAF and PAF news

Patrice Dawkins-Jackson (2012, 2014 Classroom Fellow) was appointed to the Board of the Sandy Springs Education Force (Atlanta) and became a member of the Atlanta Regional Competitiveness Education Subcommittee.  

immigrant heritage month

June is Immigrant Heritage Month. Educators may want to read about the diverse linguistic and cultural assets of immigrants and the value they have brought and continue to bring to the United States.

• Limitless PossibilitiesLibia Gil, Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition at ED, tells a moving story of immigration. She lived in a multiracial and multilingual family and became the first in her family to enter college and finish her degree.

• A Series of Seven WebinarsOn November 21, 2014, President Obama established the White House Task Force on New Americans (WHTFNA)— a government-wide effort tasked with better integrating immigrants and refugees into American communities in three key areas: civic, economic, and linguistic. To support the work of the WHTFNA, ED is sponsoring a webinar series focused on the educational and linguistic integration of immigrants and refugees. The first is: America’s Youngest Pioneers: Immigrant Children, Youth and Adults—What Does the Data Show? June 25, 2 – 3:30 pm. Dial-in number: 1-888-324-7177, participant passcode: 3186123. (Link will go live on June 25). 

Did you know?

Hispanic Education 

Our Country's Shifting Demographics

Hispanics are the largest and fastest‐growing minority group. They will represent 60 percent of our nation’s population growth between 2005 and 2050.

There are currently 50 million Hispanics in the U.S., making up 16 percent of the total population and a significant portion of the labor force. 

Hispanics have the lowest educational attainment of any group in the United States.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics was originally established by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 to address the educational disparities faced by the Hispanic community. On October 19, 2010, President Obama signed Executive Order 13555, renewing the Initiative.

Learn more about the 25th anniversary of the Initiative and the commemoration that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Initiative launched. Known as the “Anniversary Year of Action: Fulfilling America’s Future,” it has taken place from October 2014 through September 2015. 

Moving Beyond "Checking the Boxes"

"Restorative justice is not a strategy. It's a mindset. It only works when it's a mindset."

(Michigan principal Curtis Lewis, during a conversation with policymakers at ED. Lewis continued, "We have to train ourselves, our teachers, our kids and our parents in this way of thinking.")

Quote to Note

Harrison 1

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.

Aubrey Harrison

Celebrating African American Educators

Aubrey Harrison is an instructional technology specialist for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina. He also runs a blog about tech solutions for his students.

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

In college, I always enjoyed the interaction I had with children at various camps and as a HS football coach. After earning my masters degree, I contacted a coach to discuss the impact coaches had on developing male leaders. That conversation led to a job interview that resulted in the beginning of my career as an educator.

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

As an educator, I celebrate my students’ perseverance. I appreciate their willingness and tenacity when working through a challenge. This tells me that they have been inspired to investigate and are engaged in authentic learning, and it confirms that the path that I am guiding them on is growing them as individuals.

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

Through the parent meetings I am invited to speak at and the video content I create weekly, I try to expose adults to new innovations that students have access to that will make learning easier and more enjoyable. I emphasize the importance of communication with the child as well as their teacher. It is important to be aware of what is going on in the classroom and to recognize the growth of the child.

Education Policy

assessment toolkit

Assessment Literacy 

Assessment Design Toolkit

ED and the Reform Support Network have launched the new Assessment Design Toolkit that contains 14 online modules to help teachers, principals and other instructional leaders write or select well-designed classroom assessments. Each of the modules addresses a single topic and includes a video, a PowerPoint presentation and a narrator's script. Well-designed assessments can evaluate what students are learning and whether instruction is effective. Assessments can also provide useful data in educator evaluations and professional development, when used in conjunction with other measures.


Educators may download the toolkit and adapt the materials to support them in writing and selecting well-designed classroom assessments. For additional information, contact Jamila Smith at the U.S. Department of Education.

Educators and the Policy Process

Leading by Example

The National Network of State Teachers of the Year published their second in a series of policy papers, ENGAGED: Educators and the Policy Process. The paper makes a case for educator involvement in policy decisions and offers a series of structures to overcome the challenges teachers face when attempting this work. In addition, it offers nine "vignettes" and lessons learned from interactions among the State Teachers of the Year and policymakers and makes recommendations to various stakeholders.

diploma counts

Students with Disabilities 

Making the Transition to College or Careers

What happens to students with disabilities when they leave high school? Many say that they feel unprepared for the choices they face. The new 2015 Diplomas Count report examines the transition out of K-12 schooling for students with disabilities, who account for 8.5 percent of the nation's 6- to 21-year-olds. The report also has the latest statistics on the nation's overall, on-time high school graduation rate, which found that 81 percent of the class of 2013—a historic high—graduated in four years, as tabulated by the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (EdWeek). The complete contents of Diplomas Count 2015 plus special online-only features are also available on the EdWeek website

 ESEA Reauthorization

Civil Rights Groups Weigh In 

Civil rights groups are asking for more accountability in proposed fixes to NCLB. Lauren Camera (EdWeek) reports on a "coalition of civil rights groups is demanding that the U.S. Senate beef up accountability provisions in the bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which is queued up for debate." The groups seek greater transparency interventions to close gaps. Learn about specific changes they seek

Early Learning

Preschool Partnerships that Work

The Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC) and the U.S. Department of Education are collaborating to highlight a series of 10 exemplary public-private community preschool partnerships in states and communities around the country. Visit ECEC’s website to learn more about New York City’s FirstStepNYC, a co-located school and community pre-K program and demonstration site for leadership in early childhood education.

The Teachers' Desktop:

Resources for Educators

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• Does Not Commute. An original Change the Equation (CTEq) analysis of the latest Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which tests the key cognitive and workplace skills needed to participate in society found that the United States ranked dead last on technology skills among nations that participated. Read more in the CTEq report about other concerning findings: American millennials aren't tech savvy. They are hyper-connected yet under-skilled, and they are are unaware of the impact of their technological shortcomings. 

 • For Boys and Young Men of Color. Check out this microsite from CLASP-- Boys and Young Men of Color: The Promise and Opportunity, a web portal designed for youth advocates and service providers and state and community leaders. It features four primary topics: dropout prevention; education equity; employment; and youth development and well-being. In addition to research, it includes video content of young men describing critical issues in their own words.

• Learning Gets Personal: Khan Academy’s Impact in Idaho. Learn how 173 teachers, 10,500 students, a local university and Khan Academy came together with a local family foundation in rural Idaho to adopt a different approach to learning and teaching. Find out what five key principles led to widespread and enthusiastic adoption of personalized learning.

• How Eliminating Annual Testing Hurts Teachers. In Real Clear Education, Stephenie Johnson analyzes specific ways that moving to a system of testing only in a grade span would harm teachers. Among them, she writes, "Undoubtedly, the consequence of losing growth data would be to punish those teachers who work with the highest-need students."

• "Dear Summer Reader" Motivates Students During Summer Slide. In an effort to combat the summer learning slide, the teachers at the Ocean Avenue School (Middletown, N.J.) produced a fun music video that parodies Meghan Trainor’s song, “Dear Future Husband.” The motivational reading video features a variety of school staff engaged in fun summer activities while reading.

• Unseen Domains in Our Classrooms. In an article posted by the Shanker Institute, John Lane of Michigan State University suggests an alternative to "one-size-fits-all" professional development that is focused on new practices or the implementation of new systems. He concludes from his post-doctoral research that opportunities related to understanding classroom social dynamics would have a greater positive impact on teaching and learning.  

Students' Corner

Tools for Students

Take Your Kids to a Park. To help engage and create our next generation of park visitors, several federal agencies have partnered to make sure every child across the country has the opportunity to experience America's public lands and waters in person throughout the 2015-2016 school year. Access an Every Kid in a Park pass to get free access to national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and more.

How can we get a spot on this panel of judges? On June 8, the U.S. Department of Education was visited by nine teams of high school age culinary students for the Cooking Up Change National Finals, a competition in which students crafted meals that were both delicious, easily replicable, and in line with national nutrition standards for school meals.

Bright Lines. The U.S. Department of Education announced the 2015 President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP) recipients, honoring nearly three million students graduating from elementary, middle schools and high schools. Check out the list of 2015 PEAP participating schools by state/territory


Good Stuff for Eduwonks

Learning More than Facts and Figure. ED has created a new competitive grant program called ‘Skills for Success’ aimed at helping middle school kids develop strengths like grit and resilience and to adopt "growth mindsets." Read Alyson Klein's blog about ED's new non-cognitive skills grant competition (EdWeek). Watch as ED's Senior Program Advisor Brad Jupp and Policy Advisor Kelly Fitzpatrick discuss the New Skills for Success grant. Deadline: July 29. 

teacher and student sort words

Amanda Reynolds works with Carlos on a modified word study that supports his strong verbal skills and his need to learn English.

Resources for English Learners (ELs)

New Video Series Showcases EL Teaching Strategies

The NEA has released a series of helpful classroom videos highlighting how two Northern Virginia schools are meeting the needs of English learners through dual language immersion and using specific support services (Mitchell, EdWeek).  

Language AcquisitionDual Language Learners (DLL) Reader Post #4 explores the age-old question:  How Long Does it Take to Learn English? Read more about two variables that influence the DLLs’ English development--individual factors and school factors. The article ends with the implications of these factors on policy making.   

Teachers as Leaders: Building Capacity to Serve ELs. This SmartBlog on Education by Ayanna Cooper looks at how to support teachers of ELs as leaders. It provides three different examples of approaches to professional development for educators of ELs. 

Emerging Research

Educators' Dilemma

According to a white paper by Michael B. Horn and Julia Freeland from The Christensen Institute,"the conundrum the U.S. education system faces is that society is asking it to deliver breakthrough academic results for the highest need students, but in a world in which we don’t understand the precise solutions that can drive these outcomes." But the authors find hopeful solutions in academic settings that have embraced wraparound services. Read more about the complex debate and "integrating backward."


Recommended Reading

• Stereotyping and School Discipline. Two Strikes: Race and the Disciplining of Young Students, a study by psychologists Jennifer Ebehardt and Jason Okonofua of Stanford University offers an account of their research on racialized discipline disparities among teachers. According to the article, after only two infractions, racial disparities played a part so that teacher participants were increasingly likely to suggest harsher discipline for Black students in comparison to white students. Read more about the patterns the authors found and the extent to which stereotyping plays a role in disciplining among teachers of all races.

• The Need to Address Implicit Biases. An article by Kevin Mahnken of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute discusses the above-referenced study out of Stanford University. 

 Effective Summer Reading Programs. The Marshall Memo shared a review of Knowledge Quest’s article on Sam Houston State University professor Teri Lesesne’s CARE model for effective summer reading programs. CARE is an acronym for choice, access, response, and enthusiasm. Lesesne suggests that students should be given an extensive list of books to choose from for summer reading, rather than a list of just a few, and that schools should increase students’ access to books over the summer by giving them the option of borrowing books from their classroom or school library. She also advocates for new opportunities for students to prove that they completed summer reading and for the use of social media to quickly raise students' interest in a large quantity of books.

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

Top 5 Quotes

Teachers at the Louisville (Kentucky) Teach to Lead Summit

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. “In education, people who have made it to a certain point get recognized a lot, but most teachers never get any recognition at all.” (Middle School Teacher, Arlington, Va.)

4. "Teachers often know when they are not doing a good job but they are afraid to reach out for help." (Teacher, Philadelphia, Pa.)

3. "The principalship is a lonely job. But we are not alone in the world and we can help each other." (Principal, Washington, D.C.)

2. "We need to stop pretending that everyone can teach." (Teacher, Baltimore, Md.)

1. "In the last three weeks, I've had to keep three initiatives out of my building to protect my teachers." (Principal, Ft. Myers, Fla.)