8 Common Education Terms to Ditch in 2016 -- THE TEACHERS EDITION - January 7, 2016

The Teachers Edition

January 7, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 


In This Issue

Duncan Passes the Torch, King Sets Agenda


Arne Duncan delivered his final speech as Education Secretary last week, demanding that the country focus energy and resources on gun violence, noting that more than 16,000 young people died from gun violence during his tenure. As his tenure wound down, he spoke with the Washington Post about his successes and also three major failures over the course of his leadership. Now, John King has taken over interim duties and named his three priorities in a recent interview with POLITICO: ensuring equity and excellence in schools, elevating the profession and improving teacher preparation, and focusing on college completion

The State of the Teaching Profession Graphed

teacher retention rates

In its second annual wrap up of the state of teaching, Education Week takes a look at teaching through the lens of students. The article analyzes nine categories depicted through charts such as: how many new teachers stay in the profession; teacher shortages; student poverty; discipline bias, suicide; gender and computer science; and more. 

Assistant editor Ross Brenneman says that the charts “serve as a reminder about some of the struggles educators face on a frequent basis that may not garner as much attention as perhaps deserved.”

Education Left Out of Presidential Debates

Climate change, foreign policy, and the economy have been frequent conversation topics at recent presidential debates, but if you've wondered about the lack of questions regarding public education, you're not alone. In a blog post on POLITICO, Arne Duncan listed the five questions he wishes would be asked, including ones about access to preschool and high school graduation rates. Only four percent of Americans find education to be America's most important problem, according to one poll, which FiveThirtyEight.com's Hayley Munguia suggests might be part of the reason we're not hearing much about it at the debates. 

Principal Gives Kidney to Former Student


Many educators say they would do anything for their students. Christine Buell, a 45-year-old vice principal at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School in San Francisco, is taking it to a new level. She agreed to give her kidney to former student Kelvin Sanders, who was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease last fall at the age of 19. Read about Kelvin's mom's reaction and how Buell made the choice to give her student such a huge gift (Eunjung ChaWashington Post).

Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code

bb8 hour of code

Learn to program droids, and create your own Star Wars game in a galaxy far, far away! Code.org unveiled a Star Wars- themed computer science tutorial featuring Princess Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2 as well as Rey and BB-8 from the new film Star Wars: The Force AwakensParticipants will join forces with Rey to guide BB-8 through a space mission, then team up with Princess Leia to build their own game featuring R2-D2 or C-3PO. Students will also be able to play their completed games on smartphones, and share them with friends and family through a unique link. Learn more in these videos and check out the tutorial for how to get your students involved.

Most States Cut Ed Funding in Recent Years



Most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools — in some cases, much less — than before the Great Recession, according to a study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. At least 31 states provided less state funding per student in the 2014 school year (that is, the school year ending in 2014) than in the 2008 school year, before the recession took hold. In at least 15 states, the cuts exceeded 10 percent. See where your state ranks here.

Teacher Leadership

ED Makes the Case for Innovation

The U.S. Department of Education is continuing to invest in innovation, to the tune of $1.2 billion as of late. The newest grantees tackle issues like adolescent literacy and after school programs. According to some senior education officials in an interview on Medium, "In public education, we don’t have a systematic way of finding and vetting potential innovations and figuring out which of those effective practices deserve to be spread to many other children in need. Until we get good at that, we’re missing an opportunity to capitalize on the instinct for innovation that many of our educators have today."

P Chat

Principal Corner

Paradoxical Principals. Greg Mullenholz (2011 Washington Fellow) and principal of Ashburton Elementary School (Bethesda, Md.) reflects on the role of effective principals and how they can help elevate the teaching profession. 

Superintendents Happy, but Likely to Leave

More than 80 percent of superintendents surveyed by AASA, the School Superintendent Association, report being happy in their jobs, yet more than one-third plan to retire in the next five years. There has been a slight increase in the number of female superintendents in the country, but the number lags far behind the number of male superintendents, according to the study.

Celebrating African American Educators

Cyndi Robinson-Carney

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.

Robinson Carney photo

Cyndi Robinson-Carney is a 10th Grade English Teacher at John Marshall High School in Richmond (Va.). Robinson-Carney has been a teacher leader working with the Center for Teacher Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Education. In addition, she serves as a clinical resident coach and teaches the secondary curriculum class in the VCU Master of Teaching degree program.

Why and how did you decide upon a career in education? As a product of a single mom and an incarcerated father, I know first-hand the power of education to inspire people not only to dare to dream, but to also have the audacity to follow those dreams despite their circumstances.  

What is the one thing you most celebrate about your students? We live in a society concerned with student progress as measured by standardized assessments; still, we must remember that student progress is multi-dimensional. What I love to celebrate are three critical points in their education journeys with me as their teacher: the starting line, the finishing line, and the path to the next race! 

Early Childhood Education

Taking Preschoolers Outside, Rain or Shine

The New York Times recently focused on preschools that take place entirely outside, no matter the weather. The 92 schools that place nature at the heart of their programs are springing up in San Diego, sure, but also some colder climes like Washington, Michigan, and Massachusetts. According to the article, kids spend time in a variety of ways: "There’s carting around rocks in wheelbarrows, playing at being (sword-less) pirates, examining trees split by lightning, digging in wood-chip piles to make child-size “nests,” finding an unknown seed and dubbing it a “nothing berry,” and running up and down hills" (Mongeau).

Recommended Reading

Arts Report

Sing, Dance, Grow

A review of research on arts and early child development shows a link between arts programs and a child's development of social and emotional skills.  

But as ED's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education deputy assistant secretary Libby Doggett, said," we need to delve deeper into how and why the various art forms impact children's learning" (Zubrzycki, Education Week).  

8 Common Education Terms to Ditch in 2016

The74Million.org surveyed some education experts and writers about which common education phrases shouldn't make it to 2016. We don't think too many teachers will be sorry to get rid of terms like data-driven, differentiation, and best practices. What other overused eduwords should've been on the hit list?

The New Math

mathematical symbols

Bring Computer Science to Your School 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be over 1 million computing job openings by 2022. These are jobs in every industry in every state. A Computer Science major can earn 40% more than the college average.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections data and National Association of Colleges and Employers.

How to Respond to 'You Get Summers Off'

Texas teacher JP Fugler writes on the Huffington Post about an interaction with a bank teller who says, "Well, at least you get the summers off." Here's how he responds: "My smile dropped. Although technically accurate, this teacher myth seems to creep into only conversations with those outside of education. But this time, it carried an extra sting coming from a bank employee. I mean, banks would likely close on the president's dog's birthday if it were printed on the calendar."

Resources for Educators

Transform your Community 

Communities may now apply to be designated a Promise Zone under the third and final round of competitions. Promise Zones are high poverty communities where the federal government partners with local leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, enhance public health and address other priorities identified by the community. Learn more about the eligibility criteria and how to apply

Top 5 Quotes

JK listens in Tampa

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "I work with a principal I believe in and who believes in me'” (Teacher, Pennsylvania). 

4. "The best professional development I've been involved with was facilitated by colleagues" (Teacher, Washington D.C.).

3. "I would have left, but I found places to lead outside of my classroom. I had space to think and to be creative" (Teacher, Pennsylvania).

2. "I teach for the challenge to continue to get better" (Teacher, Maryland).

1. "How we treat adults determines how they treat children'” (Teacher, New York).