THE TEACHERS EDITION -- September 3, 2015

The Teachers Edition

September 3, 2015  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 

In This Issue

what teachers deserve

Video Worth Watching

What Teachers Deserve

Teachers deserve to be valued for their expertise, for their voice, to make decisions--to be appreciated. Watch the teachers in this video talk about what teachers dare to be worthy ofNinth grade mathematics teacher (Tenn.) Cicely Woodard (pictured above) contends that as professionals, teachers deserve to be the leaders of collaboration because "when teachers have the opportunity to plan lessons together and to think about what's best for students, teachers succeed and students learn." AVID Middle School (N.C.) teacher Marvin Smith says teachers deserve to be appreciated and respected because we "make the world go round."

Teacher Leadership

Advocating for Leadership Roles

No Bridge too Far

As a Center for Teaching Quality teacherpreneur and English teacher (Hershey, Pa.), Brianna Crowley advocates for teacher leadership roles, offering strategies for teacher leaders to serve as bridges to connect district and building administrators with teacher leadership that works. Teachers who want to propose a hybrid role or suggest an innovative leadership idea need to read her advice on collaboration and follow her encouragement.

Teach to Lead Update

The Other Washington

Join us in counting down to the Washington Teach to Lead Teacher Leadership Summit September 25-27, 2015.  Twenty nine teams of educators from seventeen states will be working with us to develop their ideas into action plans. If you would like to see the action plans developed during previous summits, you can find them from Louisville, Denver and Boston by clicking on the city or going to the Teach to Lead website

Principal Chat

New Principals: What does it take? EdWeek starts off the school year with a data snapshot provided by NAESP on the day-to-day realities of being a principal. This visual overview breaks down everything from stress level (high!) to job satisfaction (high, as well) and more.

White Paper on Supporting Instructional Leadership. The Center for Educational Leadership released a white paper in August, From Procedures to Partnership: Redesigning Principal Supervision to Help Principals Lead for High-quality Teaching and Learning. The webinar, featuring Dr. Meredith Honig of the University of Washington, provides guidance to superintendent and principal teams on how to assist principals in the work of supporting instruction at the school level. Read about how CEL is partnering with the University of Washington’s Danforth Educational Leadership Program to offer a ‘performance guarantee’ for all of their graduates.

The Principal as Instructional Leader. The Wallace Foundation has released a three-volume guide focusing on the shifting role of principals as instructional leaders. Read about how the SAM process has captured data to show what impact instructional leadership makes on student success, and what the levers are to replication and change.

The Teaching Profession

Music to Teachers' Ears

Study Affirms the Importance of Music Education

Music Education report

Instinctively and from anecdotal evidence, teachers in this country value music education and lament any narrowing of the curriculum that relegates the arts to a nonessential status. Now we have numbers to back up our gut instincts.

Striking a Chord: The Public’s Hopes and Beliefs for K–12 Music Education in the United States: 2015 measures the beliefs and attitudes about music education through eyes of parents and teachers (NAMM Foundation). 

According to the data, educators and parents universally affirm that music education has proven, measurable benefits and is a vital part of student success in school. They are also united in their strong disapproval to the cuts that have been made to music programs. 

World's Largest Lesson

Tackling Thorny Themes

world's largest lesson

The World’s Largest Lesson in partnership with UNICEF asks all schools to teach a lesson about the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and inspire a generation to change the world. The lesson materials encourage children to take individual action to make positive change in their community.

During the school week of September 27, schools are asked to teach the World’s Largest Lesson. These new Global Goals are a “to-do list” for people and planet - to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and slow climate change. 

Teachers can create a lesson plan or classroom activity about either a) the principle of the goals and their overall purpose or b) a theme from the goals that means most to the children you teach. Check out the toolkit and learn more about how to sign up and engage children aged 8-14  in development issues and inspire them to become active global citizens.

C. Sabastian Berry 

Celebrating African American Educators

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.

African American teacher


C. Sabastian Berry is a biology teacher at Sharpstown High School in Houston, Texas.

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

After volunteering with youth from various socioeconomic and racial backgrounds during my college years, I noticed that there was an educational deficit amongst many of the children of color and those in the lower socioeconomic classes when compared to their more affluent peers. I then felt an obligation to do my part to close that gap in the most impactful way possible; that way for me is teaching.

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

I love the unique experiences and perspectives that each of my students bring to the table each day. No two students are the same, so it is important to me to celebrate that diversity and make my students feel that their thoughts and opinions matter in a world that so often tries to convince them that their voices should be muted. 

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

We each must do our part to make sure that the future of our community is left in the hands of capable citizens. I always encourage parents and those involved in my students’ lives to give their child the best that they have as a parent. This looks different for each parent, but each caretaker has SOMETHING good to give their child, find what that is and make sure that you pass that good thing (even if it’s just one good thing) on to your child. When students see you give your best, they are then inspired to do the same. 

Developing Soft Skills

How Students Can Work Harder (to Get Smarter)

children persisting video

Watch this video as Marciela Montoy-Wilson (Aspire East Palo Alto Charter School, East Palo Alto, Calif.) encourages her students to get excited about learning and develop problem-solving strategies.

Persisting and working hard to figure it out are more important in her classroom than getting the right answer. “Seeing my students embrace a challenge is something that gives me great peace of mind,” she says (Teaching Channel).

Who Gets the Jobs

Did You Know?

Question mark

Three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require education and training beyond a high school diploma. 

During the economic recovery, 97 percent of the 2.9 million good jobs created—jobs that are likely to offer healthcare and retirement benefits—have gone to college graduates

Good Jobs Are Back: College Graduates Are First In LineAnthony P. Carnevale, Tamara Jayasundera, Artem Gulish, Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University as cited in LinkedIn op-ed Americans are going to college, but not enough of them are graduating. We need to change that, by Arne Duncan. 

Recommended Reading


Benefit of the Doubt. Third grade teacher (Arlington County, Va. Public Schools) and NEA member Heidi Smith writes about the power of assuming good intentions in all that you encounter. The blog post from the Learning First Alliance gives off positive vibes to prepare teachers for the beginning of the new school year. 

What Are Great Teachers Made Of? After talking with many teachers about their classrooms, Melinda Gates describes what she learned about common attributes of great teaching. Teachers at ED think educators will want to read Infectious Enthusiasm, her perspective on what makes them shine. 

Education Policy

Policy Briefs

The Missing LinkThe High Cost of Truancy by Farah Z. Ahmad and Tiffany D. Miller, Center for American Progress, outlines the tremendous consequences of truancy. The report takes a deep dive into chronic absenteeism, examining how and why students become disconnected from schools, and identifies promising solutions taking hold in parts of the U.S. It also presents concrete federal, state, and local policy recommendations to combat truancy, including improving data collection, increasing wrap-around services, and reducing punitive policies. 

Eat your Veggies.  Research indicates that implementing new required nutrition standards for school meals has had positive results. A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 79% of schools served at least two kinds of non-fried vegetables and 78% sold at least two kinds of fruits (including 100% fruit juice) each day for lunch (Kaplan, L.A. Times). Now if we could only get students to eat their veggies instead of dumping them in the trash...

Funding for Charters. ED announced a $4 million grant competition for planning and launching high-quality public charter schools through the non-state educational agency grant program. In addition, operators of existing high-quality public charter schools can receive funding to share information with other schools about best practices. Applications for the non-state educational agency grant program are due Oct. 6, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. ET and details are available in the Federal Register notice.

Use Caution When Reading the Public's Views of New Standards

Common Core Connections

Common Core logo

When evaluating public perceptions on Common Core, a closer look at national polling data shows teachers and parents alike support holding all students to high academic standards and taking a balanced approach to testing in schools (Martin, U.S. News & World Report) .

disproportionate student expulsion

Disproportionate Impact of Misbehavior

Race and Equity

Nationally, 1.2 million Black students were suspended from K-12 public schools in a single academic year – 55% of those suspensions occurred in 13 Southern states. Districts in the South also were responsible for 50% of Black student expulsions from public schools in the United States. The report, Disproportionate Impact of K-12 School Suspension and Expulsion on Black Students in Southern States (Edward J. Smith and Shaun R. Harper), makes transparent the rates at which school discipline practices and policies impact Black students in every K-12 public school district in 13 Southern states. 

It concludes with resources and recommendations for all stakeholders and anyone concerned about the school-to-prison pipeline and the educational mistreatment of Black youth in K-12 schools. The authors discuss implications of discipline disparities for faculty in schools of education and other teacher and principal preparation programs.

The New Math

mathematical symbols

This year, 40% of U.S. high school graduates showed strong college readiness, meeting the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in at least three of the four core subject areas (English, math, reading and science). 

That percentage has stayed virtually flat over the past five years. In contrast, 31 percent of students did not meet readiness levels in any of the four subject areas. Learn more in  2015 Condition of College & Career Readiness (ACT).

Resources for Educators

September 17: Constitution Day

Penning an Extraordinary Document

Constitution Day game

On September 17, help your students celebrate Constitution Day, designated to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. The Federal Convention had first convened in May to revise the Articles of Confederation, but the need for an entirely new frame of government became clear. State delegates debated issues, such as federalism and representation, as they drafted the articles of the new Constitution.

Teachers and students can read the Constitution to celebrate and check out some interesting facts about the Constitution. 

Teach students how the First Congress proposed amendments to the Constitution in 1789 in "Congress Creates the Bill of Rights." An eBook, mobile app for tablets, and online resources, created by the Center for Legislative Archives, are available from the National Archives.

Students can learn about checks and balances, separation of powers, amendments, the Bill of Rights, slavery and the Constitution, and more through online activities that encompass documents from the National Archives.

For educators and administrators at educational institutions that receive federal funds: Please refer to the Department’s guidance on Commemorating Constitution Day and Citizenship Day 

Early Childhood Education 

Preschool Performance

On Your Bookshelf. An annotated bibliography covering early childhood suspension and expulsion is now available on the CEELO (Center On Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes) website. It identifies selected research studies and federal and state policy resources on early childhood suspension, expulsion, and discipline and what can be done to prevent these practices.

Bullying BehaviorA Child Trends report, Bullies in the Block Area: The Early Childhood Origins of “Mean” Behavior, summarizes the factors that appear related to later bullying, and what can buffer these factors. It includes a guide for practitioners, outlining programs and resources that may support children’s developing empathy and compassion. The report is the result of a review of existing research on the subject and a convening of national experts in early childhood development and media for young children. ED’s education program specialist Miriam Lund is featured. 

Teachers Notes

sticky notepad

• Life Reimagined. The promise of New Orleans is in the potential of its children and the indestructible spirit of the community," says Arne Duncan in this story of New Orleans' rebirth since Hurricane Katrina (ED Homeroom). 

• Extending the Reach. Public Impact's newest, five-step, free toolkit, Evaluation, Accountability, and Professional Development in an Opportunity Culture: A Practical Guide, gives schools, districts, and states what they need to create an evaluation system that helps teachers improve and advance their careers while helping more students.  An accompanying State Policy Brief helps policymakers and teaching advocates change laws to support collaboration and excellence. 

• Hard Facts Tell the Story. Long Beach Unified School District’s teachers use data to know how their students are doing throughout the school year. Watch this video to see how they use data to ensure that when they are teaching, their students are learning (Data Quality Campaign).

 • Keeping Current. Teachers can find 50 ideas to help bring current events into the classroom, grouped by category as well as Three Ways to Encourage Your Students to Follow Current Events This School Year (New York Times). 

• No More Vows of Poverty. Teacher Salary Project Founder Ninive Calegari penned this article that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle imagining a world where teachers are paid for what we believe our students are worth. 

 • 2015 Back to School Bus Tour.  For those who like to track where Arne and the ED team will be during the Ready for Success Bus Tour this year, check out the announcement and accompanying video taken at bus tour sites. Staff begin September 14 in the early learning world in Kansas City, Missouri and end, aptly, at a college in Pittsburgh, Pa., on the 18th. 

Tools for Students

Students' Corner

Hug a Tree for Free. Fourth graders nationwide can visit the new Every Kid in a Park website to obtain a pass that provides free access to students and their families to all federally managed lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries. The pass is valid for the 2015-2016 school year. Educators and parents can find special teaching and learning activities, trip planning tools, safety and packing tips, and other helpful information and grants on the website. 

Don't Get Scammed on Student Loans. Don't believe the ads, emails or mail from companies promising to reduce your monthly loan payments or cancel your loans. They charge a fee. Learn more about how ED will do this for free. 

Emerging Research

Let's Make a Deal. US education is a $1.5 trillion industry and growing 5 percent annually. As education transforms, the traditional and once limited openings for private companies are growing wider. Jake Bryant and Jimmy Sarakatsannis at McKinsey & Company, outline three investment themes in education, all driven by broad forces upending the decades-old picture in the education sector:

  • Digital resources for K-12 schools
  • Completion services for postsecondary institutions
  • Digital innovation in corporate training. 

Got Questions?

Top 5 Quotes

Principals at ED

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "Your ability to lead adults depends on your skills as a leader." (Teacher, Washington, D.C.)

4. "I teach because I don't want it to be an exception for kids of color to succeed." (Teacher, Oakland, Calif.)

3. "A teacher's work environment is a student's learning environment." (Teacher, New York)

2. "Teacher leadership is cooperative work, not competitive work." (Teacher, New Orleans, La.)

1. "We contribute to the achievement gap when we don't take advantage of dual-language learning." (Teacher, Virginia)