Thousands of Reasons Why Teachers #LoveTeaching -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- February 18, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

February 18, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.


Viral Social Media Campaign Honors Why We #LoveTeaching

A viral social media campaign took off last weekend in time for Valentine's Day. The campaign asks teachers and their friends to share why they #LoveTeaching. Last year more than 5 million people interacted with the campaign on Twitter. It's not too late to get involved. Here are some ideas for inspiration: 

  • Missouri teacher Chris Holmes writes: "I #LoveTeaching because it feeds my mind, heart, and soul, and in return hopefully those of my students, as well." 
  • Kentucky teacher Kim Creekmore writes: "Mentoring the next doctor, Supreme Court Justice, lawyer, governor, loan officer, dentist, teacher ... That's why I #LoveTeaching." 
  • North Carolina teacher Jim Brooks writes: "I #LoveTeaching because something special happens when student, teacher, and content meet." 


Sean McComb, 2014 National Teacher of the Year, started the #LoveTeaching campaign last year with a group of colleagues who were frustrated by the negative press surrounding the teaching profession. In this entry on our Homeroom blog, he reflects on why the campaign is so important and draws a parallel to a decision he made during his first year as a teacher to focus on the positive in each day.

The Stubborn Tendency to Blame Teachers for Society's Ills

While making the case that teachers are too often held responsible for things that are beyond their control, New Yorker author David Denby lauds teachers as "everyday gods, standing at the entryway to the world. "If they are fair and good, they are possibly the most morally impressive adults that their students will ever know." He points to the "high-stakes testing mania" and misguided focus on a small number of failing schools as culprits for demoralizing teachers. 

Combat Veterans Help Chicago Teens Overcome Trauma


In some of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods, fruitful partnerships are being realized between two unlikely groups: at-risk teens and combat veterans. Says one teen who shared his recent experience running away from a group of rival teens: "Anywhere else anybody would just tell you, 'Oh, you'll be OK' or they'll pat you on the back or something. But them, they like get into your feelings and help you sort them out." That's exactly the recipe organizers say works: the teens talk about what they're experiencing and the veterans help them process it (Cornish, NPR).

Obama Announces Plans to Make King Official Secretary


President Obama announced last week his plans to nominate Acting Education Secretary John King to officially take on the job. Obama said, "There is nobody better to continue leading our ongoing efforts to work toward preschool for all, prepare our kids so that they are ready for college and career, and make college more affordable." Ahead is a nominating process that both Republican and Democratic legislators say they hope will lead to King's confirmation (Washington Post). Meanwhile, former Secretary Arne Duncan reflected on how he is enjoying helping his kids with their homework and how he wishes he'd accomplished more on issues such as school desegregation (the74).

Teachers Empowered to Put Their Great Ideas into Action


Some 200 educators from 24 states gathered in Baltimore last weekend for the sixth Teach to Lead Summit. The initiative, which aims to empower teachers to improve their schools by supporting their own great ideas, is earmarked to receive $10 million in President Obama's proposed 2017 budget. Teachers came to Baltimore working on ideas ranging from supporting dual-language learners, fostering parent engagement, and increasing teacher diversity. It's not too late to apply for the next summit happening in late April in New Orleans -- what's your idea? 

Summit Calls for More Teacher Leadership Opportunities

Teams from 19 states convened in Washington, D.C., earlier this month to share ideas about developing more opportunities for teacher leadership in their states. "[Teacher leadership] needs to be so embedded in the profession that it's an expectation ... I am supposed to lead," said NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia. A major theme among participants was how teacher leadership wards off burnout (Alvarez, NEAToday). Teaching Ambassador Fellow Mark Sass, a Colorado teacher, describes the "palpable excitement in the room" at the recent summit


Video of Surprise Party Thrown for Special English Teacher Goes Viral

Many saw the viral video of the Texas high school English teacher moved to tears when his students threw him a surprise birthday party. Hear him share why the gesture was so special and why his students were motivated to do it in the first place (Moran, Huffington Post). 

Fostering Creativity in Schools Set Up in Ways That Stifle It

There are lots of interesting questions and answers in this Atlantic interview about fostering creativity and nonconformity in students despite constructs that devalue those norms. Even though teachers claim they value creativity, "it's easier to teach a room of conformist, unoriginal, malleable children" and the most nonconforming students are rarely the class pets. The author asks: "How do we support original thinkers in their enthusiasm to learn and explore and innovate while making sure we teach them what we need them to know in order to move on from one lesson to another?" 

Empathy, Drive, Initiative Found to Be Social/Emotional Keys


Philanthropist Susan Crown didn't want to invest money haphazardly. Instead she gave eight organizations tackling social and emotional learning $100,000 each and sought to create a guide to measure the effectiveness of similar programs. Recipients included an after-school program that teaches inner-city kids to build wooden boats and another where teenagers create, write and act in musicals with modern themes, like bullying and sexual abuse (Sullivan, NYTimes). 


Instead of Cutting Music, They Added More and Turned Around their Schools

The mantra at McGlone Elementary School in Denver is "Happy kids learn more." While other schools are adding more time working on basic skills, McGlone and Downer Elementary School near San Francisco are turning to music programs and joy to achieve better results. Initial results are promising. At Downer, a professional orchestra comes to the school three times a week to teach kids, while at McGlone, students take nearly two hours of specials like art and music per day, providing counterexamples to the "hushed, sit-up-straight, no-excuses type you might find elsewhere" (AsmarAtlantic and Westervelt, NPR). 


Teachers and Students are Like Triathletes

Running a race and test taking have a lot in common, according to J.P. Ryan, assistant principal in the Connecticut Technical High School System. Check out his six simple steps to follow when preparing students (or yourself) for a test. Cramming is definitely out (Edutopia). Meanwhile, Education Week blogger Peter DeWitt uses a similar metaphor when he makes the case for instructional coaches by drawing on his experience as a long-distance runner: he found he was much less successful training alone than with a coach, just like how teachers are better when they've got coaches.

digitized book

Old Books Reborn In Digital Age

Four children’s books from the Rare and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress are now available online. Written over 100 years ago, the books can be accessed on, and are now featured on an interactive reader’s app called Story Bug by Cricket Media. The free app allows two people to read the same book together using video chat. These digitized books can now be experienced by a new generation of young learners.

International Report Aims to Boost Teacher Professionalism

Making teaching more of a profession is a conversation happening in many corners of our country. It turns out the same conversation is happening internationally too. A new report by the OECD examines the experiences of teachers in 34 countries and calls for four policy changes that would increase teacher professionalism: expanding induction and mentoring programs for new teachers, supporting teachers in conducting classroom-based research, encouraging teachers' participation in networks with other teachers, and requiring preservice experiences that expose teachers to pedagogy and practice learning opportunities.

What We Heard from Educators This Week


5. "[As a teacher leader], I spend all my time dealing with and thinking about adult problems so that teachers can focus on teaching. I’m finding a disconnect between my own role as a teacher and thinking about how to help other teachers" (Teacher, Vermont).

4. "Participating in teacher leadership program outside of schools is great -- you build capacity; but sometimes you feel like you’re all dressed up with nowhere to go" (Teacher, Colorado).

3. On being involved with teacher leadership programs: “It’s great, but it can come as a shock to have so much agency and be so well regarded, and then in the place you live, to still not have any agency. It’s disconcerting" (Teacher, Pennsylvania).

2. "Don't blame teachers for all things wrong in education. Esteem the profession like medical doctors" (Teacher, Michigan).

1. "All policymakers should visit a school each month if they are going to write policy" (Teacher, Virginia).