THE TEACHERS EDITION -- September 17, 2015

The Teachers Edition

September 17, 2015  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 

In This Issue

student w potus

Student body president introduces Obama at Back-to-School town hall. 

Video Worth Watching 

Making College the Dream

Watch this inspiring video as student body president (North High School, Des Moines, IA) Russhaun Johnson introduces President Obama at a town hall with high school juniors, seniors, and their parents to discuss college access and affordability. Johnson, the son of a recovering drug addicted mother who was incarcerated for more than four years, said “education means the world to me because I no longer feel lost.” 

The President joined Secretary Arne Duncan’s sixth annual Back-to-School bus tour where he announced a new initiative to allow students and families to apply for financial aid earlier – starting in October as the college application process gets underway – rather than in January. Learn more about the new College Scorecard and other ways to make better college choices.

Teacher Leadership

Building Leaders

Learning Under Construction

Teacher leader image

Teachers at Kreitner Elementary School (Tacoma, Wash.) are using this short upbeat video in their building, getting staff on board and following their Teach-to-Lead journey. 

"We are thrilled to be a part of this program," they said.  

Principal Chat

P Chat

Last year for Intel.  Schools that inspire students to enter STEM fields often looked to the Intel Science Talent search as a great motivator. After more than 15 years, Intel is discontinuing its sponsorship, and the Science Talent Search is looking for someone new to take over. Google Science Fair, however, still runs strong.

Let them sleep!  A group of scientists suggests that high school should start at 10 a.m. to avoid impairing children's health; meanwhile, students at five out of six U.S. middle and high schools were sitting in first period by 8:30 this morning (Blad, EdWeek). 

Carrots, not sticks. The author of a new book about a San Francisco high school concluded that "supporting teachers, instead of cracking down on them" leads to teacher retention, higher teacher morale, and better academic results (Rizga, Los Angeles Times).

The Teaching Profession 

Students and Teachers Deserve More

Money Indeed Matters

We've always rolled our eyes at the suggestion that cutting education funding won't have an impact. Isabel V. Sawhill (Brookings) backs us up, citing recent research showing that in fact increased school spending leads to improved student outcomes, particularly for low-income students.

Why and How to Connect

Tweeting Teachers

teachers with cell phones

High school English teacher Brianna Crowley (Hershey, Pa.) describes how students benefit when classrooms have a social media presence (EdWeek Teacher). 

David Milligan

Celebrating African American Educators

African American educator David Milligan

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.

David Milligan is a 7th Grade Language Arts Teacher at IB Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was recognized as the 2010 Central Learning Community Teacher of the Year and 2012 Middle School Coach of the Year. He was also a 2010 NBCT member of the Teaching Fellows Institute of Charlotte.

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

As a youth, I was fortunate to have many influential role models that served as examples for the type of person that I desired to be. The attributes of hard-work, dependability and perseverance were demonstrated and shown to me early on in life, therefore I felt a responsibility to pay it forward and teach the qualities of what I feel are necessary for a person to become successful.

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

The thing I celebrate the most about my students is the individual uniqueness each and every one of them brings to the table. On a daily basis I work to celebrate the diverse attributes and talents of my students in order for them to gain confidence, self-worth and pride. I strive to make each student feel like a valued member to the classroom while developing their special qualities and talents.

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

As a successful coach in football, basketball and track, as well as a mentor and role model in my learning community, I am able to connect with students, parents, family members and other caring adults on multiple levels. This connection gives me the unique ability to help teach and model best practices on the field, off the field and in the classroom. I send home weekly emails to the families of my sports teams and to the families of all of my language arts students.  In addition to the weekly updates, I provide them with ideas, resources and contacts that will help them in the pursuit of their students’ overall success. This is what I have believed in for all 17 years of my teaching career.

TAF and PAF news

Meet the TAFs and PAFs

• New Teaching and Principal Ambassador FellowsMeet the nine teachers who have been selected to be the new Teaching Ambassador Fellows for the 2015-2016 school year. Three of the teachers will serve as full-time employees at ED's headquarters in Washington, D.C., while six will remain in their classrooms and participate on a part-time basis. 

Also learn more about four new Principal Ambassador Fellows for the 2015-2016 school year.

Good Habits for Keeping Our Cool 

Don't Get Snappy

New studies are showing that teachers who take care of themselves do a better job of taking care of their students. Educators who participated in an eight-week mindfulness program at the University of Vermont reported being more self-aware and better able to manage classroom behaviors

Meanwhile, Edutopia author Rebecca Alber shares some tips for how to stay calm in class. “If we stay calm when teaching -- giving instructions, addressing individuals or the whole class -- it's amazing to see that this, too, happens with them. Whether we want the responsibility or not, we are constantly modeling for the children we teach ways to be out in the world. We want them to see that kindness, flexibility, and a tranquil approach to others are vital skills to develop.” she says.

Recommended Reading: Straight Out of Teaching

books piled up image

Lillian Mongeau's feature Atlantic story reports that high turnover among educators as well as declining interest among college students majoring in education is causing teacher shortages across the country. 

Elmhurst Community Prep in Oakland (Calif.) goes under the microscope as an example of a broader national trend. 

ED estimates that enrollment in teacher preparation programs declined 10% nationally from 2004 to 2012. In California, the decline was even sharper (55% between 2009 and 2013).  

Everyone Deserves a Shot at College

Quote to Note

" kid should be priced out of a college education. No hardworking young person should be denied a shot at success just because of where they started out in life."

(President Obama, Training America's WorkersMacomb Community CollegeWarren, Michigan)

Education Policy

Good Stuff for Eduwonks


Gains Are SIGnificant. Recent studies show that School Improvement Grants (SIG) are helping turnaround struggling schools, improving student achievement in both math and reading. Carmel Martin, executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress, and former assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development at ED cites positive news from a recent study of 31 Massachusetts schools; points to another 2012 study about success in California by the National Bureau of Economic Research; and mentions the 2015 Council of the Great City Schools report that found schools receiving grants “nationwide show greater improvement in reading and math achievement than other schools” (US News and World Reports). 

Resources for Educators

Online Podcasts  

Listening in on Real Life

classroom activities image

A new series of documentaries about innovations in education from American Radioworks covers a wide range of topics in education and higher education. Some of the ones teachers will like include:  

The Living Legacy: Black Colleges in the 21st CenturyHear from HBCU students, learn about the history of HBCUs, and explore an HBCU in the process of reinventing itself.  

Teaching TeachersHear from researchers exploring teacher improvement and learn from U.S. schools testing new approaches to teacher training.  

 Beyond the Blackboard: Building Character in Public SchoolsThis documentary explores the “Expeditionary Learning” approach, which takes students out of the classroom to learn important “non-cognitive” skills such as courage, persistence and teamwork.

Thirty Different Languages 

Helping English Learners

In Manzanita Community School (Oakland, Calif.) educators have seen remarkable improvement in academic achievement among English learner students by providing them the right blend of technology, emotional support and encouragement (Lynch, EdWeek). 

Teachers Notes

sticky notepad

• Infusing Music into the Classroom. GITC (or “git-see” for short) provides free music integration classes for educators and school staff working with children of all ages in educational settings. They empower teachers with skills for how to lead music for learning and how to write songs with students. Watch the short film about bringing music into classrooms, and check out downloads to help lead Songs for Learning in your classroom.

• Inspire Lifelong Voters. Educators can order the free classroom documentary Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot – which recounts the role of students in the voting rights struggle of the 1960s – also provides educators with a tool to demonstrate the importance of voting. 

Tools for Students

Students' Corner

Students Urged to 'Think It Up.' Millions of Americans tuned in to last Friday's broadcast of Think It Up, which asks students in grades 7-12 to dream up ideas for how to improve their schools. Stars like Justin Bieber and Big Sean performed to support the effort.

Calling All Young Leaders.  Disney Dreamers Academy will accept applications for the 2016 program until October 30, 2015. Disney seeks students with a winning combination of attributes that reflect strong character, positive attitude, and persistence to take advantage of opportunities. 

Early Childhood Education

Prepared for Life: Early Learning

Early Interventions Pay Off. Economist James Heckman has co-authored a new report on how health benefits persist decades later for participants in FPG’s Abecedarian Project and the Perry Preschool Project (Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute). 

How to reach newsletter editor

Top 5 Quotes

Arne with Student

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. Reflecting improvements to teacher professional learning: "My parents were teachers. They did their professional development at the dinner table.'” (Teacher, Boston, Mass.)

4. "Students don't open up and trust you often if you don't look and sound like them." (Middle School Teacher, Texas)

3. On improving the teaching profession and recruiting the next generation of teachers:  "I think talking about professionalism is where it's at. It's about innovation, having the freedom to be creative and innovative." (Elementary Teacher, Texas)

2. "I want to impact those young people who don't think of themselves as students and who never did." (Teacher, North Carolina)

1. "My students inside [the prison] are many times more engaged in classroom discussions than my students outside [in community college]." (Teacher of Incarcerated Youth and Community College Teacher, Washington)