Why Teachers Don't Recommend Teaching -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- February 25, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

February 25, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.


Connecting At-risk Students with Mentors to Combat Absenteeism

The White House and ED announced two groundbreaking campaigns to address and eliminate chronic student absenteeism last week. The MBK Success Mentors Initiative aims to reduce chronic absenteeism by connecting over one million students with caring mentors who are trained school-linked personnelIn addition, the Ad Council campaign, Absences Add Up, seeks to raise awareness about how chronic absenteeism affects children in the short- and long-term. 

With an estimated 5 to 7.5 million students chronically absent each year, this is a national problem that seriously undermines the education, safety and life outcomes of our youth. Both initiatives build on the Every Student, Every Day national initiative to address and eliminate chronic absenteeism.

afterschool kids


Like many of their peers around the country, some of the kids in third grade science teacher Audra Kufro's class would rather play video games at home instead of going to school. That was before they started the Schools & Homes in Education (SHINE) Afterschool Program in Mahanoy City, Pa. The program's unique recipe has increased student performance and attendance, too. In this first-person entry on our Homeroom blog, read about how the program helps kids learn new things and build meaningful relationships that keep them coming back to school. 

Why Teachers Don't Recommend Teaching as a Career Choice

A survey of Georgia teachers found that about 70 percent of teachers said they are "unlikely" or "very unlikely" to encourage students to enter teaching. Blogger Tim Elmore offers four reasons why that might be and eight suggestions for how we can go about changing this sad reality. Meanwhile, the results of the PISA Survey show that teaching is particularly attractive to students in places like Indonesia and Turkey; American kids' interest in teaching ranks near the middle. 

School Leaders Urged to Shadow a Student Next Week

What is it like to be a student at your school? To sit through the daily schedule. To find a seat in the cafeteria at lunch. A nationwide challenge is urging school leaders to do just that; to silence their walkie-talkies, clear their calendars, and wear a student's shoes for a day. More than 600 principals are getting involved from more than 13 countries. After they complete the day, they'll gather online to share observations. 

This Inspiring Principal's TED Talk Was Viewed 1M Times


Strawberry Mansion High School used to be one of the most dangerous in Philadelphia. ABC News' Diane Sawyer visited during Principal Linda Cliatt-Wayman's first year to see the daunting challenge ahead of her. Now, a few years later, suspensions are down and test scores are up. She attributes her secret to success in an inspiring TED Talk viewed by more than 1 million people, to her genuine love for her students and her unconditional belief in their possibilities. When I look at them, I can only see what they can become and that is because I am one of them," she says. "I remind them every day that education can truly change lives."

Hawking announces finalists for teaching prize

Two American Teachers Among 2016 Global Teacher Prize Finalists

Stephen Hawking announced the top 10 Global Teacher Prize finalists, hailing from five continents. Whether teaching in a borrowed tent in a refugee camp, harnessing the power of the internet to engage students in math, empowering students to change the world by engaging them in videoconferencing with scientists in Antarctica and conservationists in Africa -- all of these teachers go beyond the call of duty to make the complex simple and the ordinary extraordinary. Hawking's story of being inspired to learn math is a video worth watching.   

Acting Secretary King Reflects on Why He Loved Teaching


As part of last week's viral #LoveTeaching campaign, Acting Secretary John King reflected on what drove him to teach high school social studies in Puerto Rico and Boston: "I loved being in the classroom because you have these great moments where students would get inspired by learning about Reconstruction or the Harlem Renaissance," he said. "And I loved being able to expose students to a world beyond our school or our community, to get them to see the diversity not only of our country but of our world." The Washington Post recently covered King's efforts to gain favor with teachers

Martha Miller age 104

Historic Moments from Teacher's Life

If not for an ordinary loaf of bread, 104-year-old Martha Miller’s life may have turned out much differently. After winning first place in a 4-H baking competition, Miller received the prize – a four-year scholarship to Purdue University – that led her to become a math teacher at Stratford Junior High School in Arlington (Va.), the first public school in the state to integrate in 1959. She recently served on a panel, told her story and promoted a book she wrote about her life (Brown, USA Today).  

How Administrators Can Help New Teachers Avoid Burnout

High school teacher Richard Wells offers 10 ways administrators can help new teachers avoid burnout. On the list: 

  • Be thankful by recognizing hard work and extra pressure new teachers are experiencing.
  • Remind teachers that they are not a "one-stop delivery machine" and encourage them not to be the sage on the stage.
  • Time: "No matter what administrators do or offer, they must invest in time for new teachers to prepare for the workload and also reflect on the experiences of each week." 

tea for teachers

Native American Educators 

Talk to ED 

Acting Secretary John King met with a group of Native American educators last week to hear about how ED can support their efforts to meet the needs of Native American youth. Scott Simpson, who teaches preservice teachers at Black Hills State University in South Dakota, writes about bringing his students' experiences to ED.


Surveys of Teachers Show How Kindergarten Has Changed

Researchers from the University of Virginia surveyed kindergarten teachers in 1998 and again in 2010 and found dramatic differences in what teachers now expect of students and in the different ways in which they are structuring their classrooms. Generally, teachers now expect children to come in knowing much more, spend more of the day in literacy and math instruction, and devote less time to subjects like music and arts. Click here to see other statistics, including how many more teachers are using math and reading worksheets, and the extent to which the number of classrooms with a dramatic play area has decreased (Education Week).

Reporter Reflects on Four Decades of Education Coverage

John Merrow started as an education reporter during the Carter era. His biggest takeaway after 41 years? "Parents used to send kids to school because that’s where the knowledge was. They were also interested in socialization and custodial care. That’s all changed. And it’s not clear schools have responded as briskly as they should have. Today knowledge is everywhere with the internet. We have apps for socialization. And custodial care is a shaky justification for schools. Educators need to find their way in this new world" (Washington Post).

Kids Needed a New Playground — So They Designed One


Atlanta's Charles R. Draw Charter School didn't go to an outside contractor to help them build a new playground; instead, they turned to their second graders. In their engineering lab class, students go through an idea development process including sketching, sharing, and synthesizing. Their teacher couldn't find a statewide curriculum for elementary school engineering design, so she planned backwards from middle and high school standards.

More Grandparents Taking on Parental Role for Grandkids


Nationwide, 2.7 million grandparents are raising grandchildren, and about one-fifth have incomes that fall below the poverty line, according to census figures. The number of grandparents raising grandchildren is up 7 percent from 2009. Experts say the trend is likely to continue as the nation responds to the opiate epidemic. Military deployment and a growth in the number of women incarcerated are other factors forcing grandparents to step into parental roles (Cancino, Associated Press).

Resources and News to Use

What We Heard from Educators This Week

king in Miami for MBK announcement

5. "I #LoveTeaching because two people said today: 'Thank you for your service.' Teachers serve their country by safeguarding our intellectual future" (Teacher, Texas). 

4. "I #LoveTeaching because every day is a challenge and a victory, a failure and success, an opportunity to inspire and rewrite stories" (Teacher, Oklahoma). 

3. "I love when I walk into a room and can't find the teacher because the learning is so fluid that it takes a minute to find the adult" (Teacher, Maryland).

2. "#LoveTeaching: Letting my kids look into a mirror and see themselves as scientists and engineers instead of just peeking through a window" (Teacher, Idaho).

1. "I #LoveTeaching because I get to make music with my kids everyday! Still have days I walk in and can't believe that this is how I get to spend my day!" (Teacher, Michigan).