The Teachers Edition

July 23, 2015  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 


In This Issue

Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama told Native youth, "We need you!"

Eagle Feathers in the White House  

Progress for Native Youth

Gen - i logo

More than 1,000 Native American youth representing 230 tribes from 42 states met last week at the first ever White House Tribal Youth gatheringWatch the First Lady speak to an enthusiastic group that shouted “We love you” while she reminded them that they are all precious and sacred and that "each of you was put on this earth for a reason. …Whether that's succeeding in a profession or leading your community into a better future you all have a role to play and we need you."

Last year, after visiting Standing Rock Sioux Indian Nation in North Dakota and listening to local youth talk about their struggles and inspiring stories of hope and determination, President Obama and the First Lady launched Gen-Indigenous (Gen-I), a commitment to improve the lives of Native youth across the country. The Tribal Youth Gathering was a collaboration between the White House and UNITY Inc., and builds on the Gen-I initiative. 

Teacher Leadership

Teach to Lead video still

Video Worth Watching

The Truth about Teacher Leadership

This powerful video features Teach to Lead's Ruthanne Buck urging educators to think big about their profession. Teacher leadership, she argues, is much more than creating hybrid roles for teachers or structures for teachers to progress through their careers. It's about creating the space for teachers to develop ideas that can change the world. 

Nation Builders

Our Most Important Profession

Extolling the value of teacher leadership, Arne Duncan blogs about why teachers are our nation’s most important profession. “Teachers are our nation builders—the strength of every profession in our country grows out of the knowledge and skills that teachers help to instill in our children,” he says. Teachers will especially want to read his examples of teacher leadership found in Marshall, Michigan and principal support found at Lehigh Senior High School, just outside of Ft. Myers, Florida.

Britain's Policy Fellows

Embedding Teachers to Improve Policy, U.K. Style

Turns out the U.S. isn't the only nation tapping the expertise of educators within their country's top education agency. The UK 's Department for Education (DfE) has just finished its inaugural year of embedding "outsiders" into the agency "with the aim of raising capability." Their first cohort of Fellows includes three teachers who contribute to specific policy and deliver challenges and expose the Department to new ways of thinking. Meet their fellows and learn more from the U.K.'s Civil Service Quarterly. Apply to be a DfE Policy Fellow.

Teach to Lead Updates--D.C. Summit or Bust!

Teach to Lead update

Participate Virtually in the DC Teacher Leadership Summit Thursday and Friday

Teachers are bringing 29 teams from 18 states to the Teach to Lead Teacher Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. Thursday and Friday, July 23 and 24. Teachers can connect with their work by following @TeachtoLead, @usedgov, #TTLSummit, and #TeachtoLead on Twitter. The Summit can also be tracked on the Teach to Lead Facebook page

Announcing 5th Teacher Leadership Summit in Tacoma, Wash., Sept. 26-27

The Teach to Lead team recently announced the date and location of the fifth Teacher Leadership Summit, which will take place in Tacoma, Washington on September 26-27. All educators are welcome to apply as individuals or as a team (teachers, principals, administrators, school board members etc.), though they have found that teams of 2+ make more progress at the Summits. Submit an idea to participate. The deadline for idea submissions for the Tacoma Summit is 11:59 pm ET Friday August 7, 2015.

Other Teach to Lead Stories

Great Lakes Teacher Leadership. Oakland University (Rochester, Mich.) has published an interesting story about how teachers are working to build teacher leadership. Working with the Galileo Institute for Teacher Leadership at Auburn Elementary School, the teachers are advancing their own leadership ideas and observing one another to improve their own teaching. 

81 in Action. University of Phoenix has joined the list of Teach to Lead official supporters bringing the latest count to 81. Check out the complete roster

Principal Chat: Improving the Principal Pipeline

P Chat

In these short Wallace Foundation videos featuring school district superintendents talking about key innovations to emerge from a national initiative to develop more highly effective principals, school leaders will find information that highlights new practices to develop leaders and manage career paths more intentionally. Topics include crafting clear standards for principals, developing strong partnerships with local university preparation programs, grooming assistant principals, revamping hiring processes and stepping up support for new principals. Many of the experiences they recount are detailed in a January 2015 report about the initiative

The superintendents featured are: Tom Boasberg of Denver Public Schools; Ann Clark of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; Alvin Wilbanks of Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Schools; Carmen Fariña of New York City Schools; Jeff Eakins of Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools; and Kevin Maxwell of Prince George's County (Md.) Public Schools. 

The Teaching Profession

Jerriel Hall 

Celebrating African American Educators

Jerriel Hall 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.

Jerriel Hall is a 4th Grade Math and ELA Teacher at Democracy Prep Congress Heights in Washington, DC.

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

In the 8th grade, my Language Arts teacher told me that I would not graduate from college let alone high school. At that moment, I knew I could not allow another child to hear such words. Many people have lowered their expectations for students, especially Black males, I became an educator to let children who look like me know their dreams are possible. 

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

One think I truly admire about my scholars is their ability to always strive for excellence. No matter their outside circumstances or situations, they come ready to learn and work each day to be the best version of themselves.

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

I really encourage my scholars’ families to get involved in our classroom community. Our door is open for anyone to visit or to volunteer throughout the day. I am in constant communication with my families and I want my families to be a part of the magic of seeing their scholars work hard, have fun, and ultimately graduate from college.

TAF and PAF News

Reflections of a Principal at ED

Jill Levine

Jill Levine, the principal of Normal Park Museum Magnet School in Chattanooga, Tenn., was the full-time campus principal ambassador fellow at the Department of Education. Read about her experiences influencing policy decisions, interacting with high level Department staff, having rich conversations and creating change (Superville, EdWeek).

Quote to Note: The Benefits of Looping

"Every time I loop, I see boys who were angry and mean become calm and gentle. I see once-timid girls become confident and assertive. I also see a community of 25 students become more than the sum of its parts. I see that annual alchemy of personalities, interests, and talents working its gradual magic. The children become better readers, writers, thinkers, artists, scientists, and mathematicians, and I become a better teacher."

(Arkansas teacher Justin Minkel in "Why Looping is an Under-Appreciated School Reform Initiative," EdWeek)

The Education-Mortality Link: Did You Know?

Question Mark

Researchers have found increased mortality rates for people who have low levels of education, specifically:
• less than a high school degree (versus those with a high school degree)
• some college (rather than a baccalaureate). 

From a study by researchers at University of Colorado, New York University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mortality Attributable to Low Levels of Education in the United States (Krueger, Tran, Hummer and Chang)

Common Core Connections: New Materials

Common Core log

New Instructional Materials for the Common Core. Achieve the Core is launching Aligned, a blog dedicated to the conversation about Common Core-aligned instructional materials. The blog features perspectives from state and district leaders engaged in the work, information on tools and training resources, and insights from content experts. Some of the most popular posts include an introduction to supplementing and adapting materials, advice on how to make use of curriculum reviewsand a case study of Louisiana’s successful state-wide curriculum reviews.

How Developmentally Appropriate is the Common Core? Student Achievement Partners has released two reports addressing concerns from the early childhood community about the developmental appropriateness of the Common Core Kindergarten ELA/Literacy Standards. What the Common Core Standards Say (and Don’t Say) about Kindergarten defines key terms in the standards, explains exactly what is expected of kindergarten students and how those expectations were determined. The Myth-Fact document addresses the most persistent myths about the kindergarten ELA/Literacy standards.

Recommended Reading

What makes a parent love a teacher?

What Makes a Parent Love a Teacher (and How to Get There)

ELA teacher Jennifer Gonzalez penned this insightful piece about why parents appreciate teachers getting to know their child and appreciating what each child brings to the classroom. The teachers at ED like this piece because Gonzalez gets to both the heart and the head of the issue, offering specific strategies that make a difference, including her Deep Data at a Glance chart (Corkboard Connections)

Does the U.S. Need a National Education Policy?

Christopher Cross, writing in Teachers College Record, makes a case that the U.S. needs a national education policy so that we have a stated national commitment to education, and understanding about the division of responsibilities between the federal government and the states, and "clear expectation for what constitutes an education that is equitable." 

Education Policy

ED Policy Briefs

Reaching Their Full Potential 

Tackling Opportunity Gaps

Senate Passes Bill to Replace NCLB. Last week the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly (81 to 17) passed a bipartisan bill to replace No Child Left Behind, called the Every Child Achieves Act. The bill now goes to Conference, which could take months to broker a deal.

"At a time when our public schools are more diverse than ever before and our nation’s welfare depends to an unprecedented degree on developing the potential of every student in America, we must demand an education law that provides meaningful accountability and upholds principles of equity and excellence for all students." Read more about the call for action on ESEA, written by Secretary Arne Duncan, Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, and Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Deep and Lasting Impact.  A research article in Education Next indicates that Race to the Top "had a meaningful impact on the production of education policy across the United States. In its aftermath, all states experienced a marked surge in the adoption of education policies. This surge does not appear to be a statistical aberration or an extension of past policy trends. Legislators from all states reported that Race to the Top affected policy deliberations within their states. The patterns of policy adoptions and legislator responses, moreover, correspond with states’ experiences in the Race to the Top competitions.”

Undoing the Silos.  In Pre-K and Charter Schools: Where State Policies Create Barriers to Collaboration, authors Sara Mead and Ashley LiBetti Mitchel examine 36 jurisdictions that have both charter schools and state-funded pre-K programs to determine where and how charters can provide state-funded pre-K. They found that because of the siloed nature of policymaking and finance, charter schools in many states are greatly restricted (and in some places even prohibited) from offering preschool.

problems of disadvantaged youth

Why is it important for our nation to invest in the lives of America’s young people? A new report from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers examines the barriers that disadvantaged youth face - particularly young men of color - and quantifies the costs to the U.S. economy. It also looks at what the President’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative is doing to address the problems. 

The New Math: Why Proficiency Matters

symbols from mathematics

50 percent of students entering two-year colleges are placed in remediation, and $7 billion is spent annually by first-year college students to learn what they should have mastered in high school.

From Why Proficiency Matters (Education Next).

Students Get Wired 

High-Speed Internet Coming to a Town Nearby

POTUS at choctaw nation

More students will soon be connected!  It's the result of ConnectHome, a pilot program to expand high speed broadband launching in twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation that will initially reach over 275,000 low-income households – and nearly 200,000 children. President Obama announced the new initiative while speaking to the Choctaw Nation in Durant, Okla. Internet Service Providers, non-profits and the private sector are also stepping up to help offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units.     

The Filing Cabinet: Resources for Teachers

New Website 

Infant-Toddler Career Pathway

Girl Dreaming

The Offices of Child Care and Head Start have launched a new website, Early Educator Central: Pathways to Credentials and Degrees for Infant-Toddler Educators. Early educators, especially infant-toddler educators, including family child care providers, can get help and support as they explore their options and career pathways.

PBS resources

Learning Inside and Out 

Explore the World

Discover an entire digital curriculum from PBS’s Plum Landing pathways, which provides a set of activities and media resources arranged in thematic sequence and aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. An animated alien, Plum, encourages six-to nine year olds to learn about earth’s eco-system through games, apps, videos, and hands-on science activities.

Teachers' Notes


• Increasingly Fewer Black Students Take Calculus? Hechinger reports about new U.S. high school transcript data showing stark and growing racial differences in which students progress to the most advanced math subject in high school: calculus. Read their report in U.S. News & World Report.

• Check out Free Classroom Resources. The 2015 winners of the  REVERE Awards, a program of the Association of American Publishers’ PreK-12 Learning Group, included financial literacy game Renegade Buggies; Sesame Workshop’s early literacy initiative Talking Is TeachingPBS LearningMedia, a digital resource library; and Teaching Tolerance’s digital curriculum Perspectives for a Diverse America (as well as its eponymous magazine). Honorable mentions include resources with a focus on health and wellness (, test prep (Gojimo), and English/Language Arts (ReadWorks).

• Data Can Empower Educators. Schools and educators who use student information have a responsibility to maintain students’ privacy and the security of their data. Find out more about ten foundational principles for using and safeguarding students’ personal information from the Data Quality Campaign.

• Children First. Check out The Seventy Four, an online newsroom with a "children first" agenda. Award-winning journalist Campbell Brown is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the new website that advocates “for a public school system that truly serves the 74 million children in this country and prioritizes their needs."  

 Space Missions for Young Learners. Miles from Tomorrowland: Space Missions," a Disney and XPRIZE STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math)  learning-focused program, is inviting young children ages 2-8 and their families to develop their own "out-of-this-world" creations to learn more about STEAM and a chance to win prizes. 

Green Strides

Watch these free webinars for information about how to reduce a school community's' environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education.

July 27, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.  Exploring Strange New Worlds:  Exoplanets and Kepler Mission (NASA)

 July 28, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 101 (EPA)

 July 28, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.  ISS Across the Curriculum:  Social Studies and Geography in Space (NASA)

 July 29, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.  Portfolio Manager 201 (EPA)

 July 29, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.  Art and the Cosmic Connection (NASA)

 July 30, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Portfolio Manager 301 (EPA)

 July 30, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Rockets 2 Racecars:  Session 4– Educators Go Green (NASA)

 August 3, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.  Exploring Ice in the Solar System (NASA)

 August 4, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Engineering Enables Science:  Robotics in the Classroom (NASA)

 August 5, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Summer Meals:  Transitioning to After School Meals (USDA)

 August 6, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. Federal Guiding Principles Checklist in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager (EPA)

 August 6, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.  Engineering Enables Science: NASA Engineering Design Challenges (NASA)

 August 19, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.  Eng Enables Sci – Integrating Engineering into Science (NASA)

 August 20, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.  How to Apply for the ENERGY STAR (EPA)

 August 20, 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.  Engineering Enables Science – What’s This Drought Stuff About?  (NASA)

Safe Havens

Emerging Research

New School Crime and Safety Report Released. The National Center for Education Statistics has released a report, Indicators of School and Crime Safety: 2014.

Social Skills Portend Future Success. New research published in the American Journal of Public Health and conducted at Penn State University suggests that specific social-emotional skills among young children can be powerful predictors for success later in life. The researchers tracked nearly 800 students for two decades (Brown, Wash Post). 

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

Top 5 Quotes

2015 State Teachers of the Year at ED

Wisdom from Educators 
Heard by ED

5. “I get texts from [other teachers] who are considering a particular school all the time – I got one this morning - and they only ever have one question. ‘How’s the principal? What do you know about him?’” (Teacher, Somerville, Mass.)

4. "Teacher leadership is like being a principal, but without all of the junk." (Principal, Pennsylvania)

3. On why she teaches in a high-needs school: “I’m not going to the school that is achieving great results, because I’m going to go create those great results.” (Teacher, Connecticut)

2. “Education policy doesn’t always need to be about fixing things. It could be about doing things differently.” (Principal, Missouri)

1. On teacher leadership: “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It’s about us taking the wheel.” (Teacher, Connecticut)