THE TEACHERS EDITION -- September 24, 2015

The Teachers Edition

September 24, 2015  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 


In This Issue

Arne exits to bus image

Arne exits the Ready for Success bus at Woodland Early Learning Community Center in Kansas City. 

Hitting the Road

Arne Goes Back to School

Students, teachers and principals recently headed back to school, and last week Secretary Arne Duncan and senior ED officials did too. They held some 20 events in 13 cities and seven states across the Midwest as part of their Ready for Success bus tour.

Check out photos, blog posts, and Tweets from all these stops and more.


High Expectations

Talking About Teachers

"Somebody who has helped me want to learn more." In Iowa last week, Secretary Duncan and President Obama were asked what they think is the role of the teacher. Hear what they had to say

Teacher Leadership 

Teach to Lead

Teach to Lead update

Seeing Leadership in ActionRead about Arne's visit to Roosevelt Middle School (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) where he sat in on a day-long Teach to Lead event, a teacher coaching session and a roundtable discussion with teachers and administrators.   

If You Want to Know ... Ask a Teacher. Read this blog post by VIVA Project President Paul Toner who joined Arne on the #ReadyForSuccess bus tour to find out what teachers in Iowa are accomplishing. 

P Chat

Principal Chat

Professional Standards. A working group of principals and experts is putting the finishing touches on a set of standards for what school leaders should know. It should be ready for release by the National Policy Board for Educational Administration soon.

EdCamp for Leaders. National Association of Secondary School Principals’ guest blogger Larry Rother highlights the power of leaders leading their own professional development in a fun and free way. At a time when research points to principals feeling isolated, EdCamp for Principals sounds like a great idea.

Models of Success. The Alliance for Excellent Education has announced the 2015-16 Call for Submissions to identify models of secondary school success. The Alliance wants to identify schools and school districts that are making a difference for students in socioeconomically disadvantaged and traditionally underserved communities in particular. To be considered, applications from high schools and school districts must be submitted by October 5 

Quote to Note

The Truth about Leaders

“While it’s likely true that there is no great school without a great principal to lead it, if you don’t have great teachers, you don’t have anything.”  

(Principal, Plymouth, Mass.)

The Teaching Profession

Reaching At-Risk Students

Helping Kids in Foster Care Feel Good at School

Teachers from Haven Academy

At some schools, defiant children get sent to the principals' office. At Mott Haven Academy Charter School (Bronx, N.Y.), where two-thirds of students are in the foster care system, teachers respond calmly so that students stay in class. 

Led by Principal Jessica Nauiokas (2015 Classroom PAF, pictured left), the school is geared toward making at-risk kids feel safe enough to learn. Whereas kids in the foster care system are often three grade levels behind by eighth grade, kids at Haven Academy "feel free," says one homeless fifth grader, and close the gap with their peers. Listen to Beth Fertig's NPR story of the school's remarkable success.

TAF and PAF news

Cheryl A. Redfield (2012 Classroom Fellow) penned this piece about busting stereotypes, connecting with students and closing the achievement gap (EdWeek Teacher). 

Proud Student

Video Worth Watching 

Fighting Gun Violence, Changing the World

The Polaris Peacekeeping project, created by students at Polaris Charter Academy (Chicago, Ill.) and focusing on neighborhood peace, was spotlighted on Think It Up, the Entertainment Industry Foundation's new education initiative. 

The Polaris project focused on promoting peace in the school's West Humboldt Park neighborhood and started with an in-depth look at the Constitution, investigating different amendments and gun laws. Students were inspired to take action when they realized that more than 95% of Polaris students have been affected by gun violence. Watch and learn more about the students who authored a book, The Peacekeepers of Chicago, created public service announcements about gun violence, and hosted a Day of Peace.

Tameka Taylor Brookins

Celebrating African American Teachers

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.

Brookins a teacher image

Tameka Taylor Brookins is a K-5 Reading Specialist at Running Brook Elementary in Columbia, Maryland. She is also a member of the Howard County Reading Council.

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

I decided to become an educator when I was in elementary school. I loved learning and still do. My goal each day is to instill this same love of learning in my students.

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

I love to celebrate my students’ individual accomplishments! However, not just reaching the goal, but the journey they take to get there. I believe the journey is what makes a learner!

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

I encourage families to read! Reading opens so many doors. I believe the more reading becomes a priority in the family, the more students can grow! 

Recommended Readings 

Building Literacy

Image of Books

• Although building a classroom library can be time-consuming and expensive, writing teacher John DePasquale has three ideas that teachers can use to build their classroom library from scratch. If your classroom library is already up and thriving, check out his ideas to improve its current organization ( 

 Teachers looking for a good literacy strategy might want to check out this blog about helping to nurture at-risk readers who may be shy about speaking aloud in class. Beginning the day with a "would you rather" question sets a safe tone for the classroom and allows students to have a voice and be heard in class. Read more about the strategy from Literacy strategy: Would you rather? (Ellner, Smartblog on Education). 


School Bus Safety

Should Buses Have Seat Belts?

You've seen how crash test dummies handle a minivan collision. A recent segment on the TODAY Show showed what happens when a school bus hits a wall. The aftermath raises questions about whether kids should be belted in when riding to school. Meanwhile, in Houston, two high schoolers were killed in a school bus crash last week; it's not clear whether they were wearing seat belts.  

Resources for Educators

Be a Connected Educator 

October is Connected Educator Month, and the initial calendar lists dozens of events. Educators at all levels, as well as those who support them, are encouraged to sign-up for regular updates on interactive webinars and other events, forums, showcases and contests.


Has technology changed what your students study? How about what your grading looks like? Former English teacher Terry Heick offers a list of 11 ways that technology should change your classroom.

Early Ed and Special Ed Join Forces

The Office of Early Learning and the Office of Special Education Programs, which have primary responsibility for ED’s key early learning investments, have launched their early learning website 2.0, where you can find out about their programs and initiatives including the new Policy Statement on Inclusion in Early Childhood Programs.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Educational Attainment

Hispanic Heritage Month

This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month marks the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

Today, nearly one in four students in our nation’s public schools is a Hispanic youth. Making sure these young people have the opportunity to achieve their dreams isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s also a matter of our shared success as a country. Find out more about contributions Hispanics have made as they continue to seek better educational outcomes.  

Teachers Notes

sticky notepad

• Best Education Apps. TeachThought staff unpack the 55 best free education apps for the iPad. An Android version will be available soon. 

• STEM With Feds Opportunity. The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship (AEF) Program is accepting applications for the 2016-2017 Fellowship Year. AEF provides an opportunity for accomplished K-12 STEM educators to serve in the national education arena. Fellows spend 11 months working in a federal agency or U.S. Congressional office. Applications are due November 19 through the online application system.

Kids Break the Glass Ceiling. Third grade teacher Carmen Espinoza (Graciano Gomez Elementary, San Bernardino, Calif.) directs students in The Actors Club, an after school enrichment arts program. Catch some of their acting ability in one of the movies, The Glass Ceiling.  

Tools for Students

Students' Corner

Join the Marine Band CompetitionMusic teachers can spread the word about “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band annual Concerto Competition for high school students. The winner will appear as a guest soloist with the U.S. Marine Band and receive a $2,500 cash prize from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. The runner up will receive a $500 cash prize. The deadline for applications is Nov.16, 2015.

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Top 5 Quotes

Arne talking with teacher

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "The most special graduation I've ever been to is the one at the Huntsville [prison] campus. Seeing the families in tears ... you really know you've changed lives." (Educator, Texas)

4. "We know children learn through play. We need to be more thoughtful about what we are subjecting them to." (Teacher, Illinois)

3.  "A lot of teacher prep programs really don't have male teachers of color. It's a problem – a big one." (Teacher, Washington, D.C.)

2. "Our student data walls aren't as important as the discussions that take place around them by teachers." (Principal, Iowa)

1. "If you want teachers to embrace the reforms you've been promoting, you are going to have to support them." (Teacher, Nebraska)