TEACHERS EDITION--December 18, 2014

The Teachers Edition

Note:The Teachers Edition will not be published again this year, but will return to your inbox January 8.

December 18, 2014  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

women working in science

The Untold History 

of Women in Science & Tech

Listen to women from across the Administration tell the stories of their personal heroes across the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Share them yourself. Add your own. Learn more (White House).

two students in Laura Kretschmar's class

Two students in math teacher Laura Kretschmar's sixth grade class at Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland (Calif.) explain their unique thinking about ways to solve a problem.


For the Love of Math

In this video created for parents, sixth grade teacher Laura Kretschmar offers viewers a glimpse into her classroom and explains why she is optimistic about the direction of math instruction in this country. "If done well--and we are really thoughtful about how we implement [the Common Core] and how we take time..." Kretschmar says, "we're actually going to bring a huge love and a joy of teaching math." 


Nominate a Teacher That Changed Your Life

We all know at least one--a teacher whose presence changed the trajectory of our lives. Now you can begin to return the favor by nominating one of your former teachers for the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award. Nominators must be at least 18 years old and must have been a former student of their nominee. Nominators can no longer be enrolled in the school where their nominee taught.

On March 22, Stephen Sondheim's birthday, a select number of these teachers will each receive the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award and $10,000 in appreciation for their contributions to the field of teaching. Awardees will also be showcased, along with the people they inspired, on the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards website. Learn more.

Duncan in Washington, DC


Marching Against Police Violence

This photo of Arne Duncan participating as a citizen in a protest march in Washington, D.C. over the weekend, garnered a lot of attention on Twitter. Learn more (Klein, EdWeek).

On Tuesday, Duncan accepted invitations from two schools in Ferguson, Missouri, where he heard from students and educators about their experiences. 

Tim Lloyd of St. Louis Public Radio quoted Duncan saying, “The division between young people and the police is huge. The division along race in this community is huge. The division along educational opportunity being based on where you live, your zip code, is huge. The inequities are huge.” Read the story.

Learn more (Crouch, St. Louis Post Dispatch).

Teach to Lead

Submit an Idea for the Boston Teacher Leadership Summit

PLEASE COME TO BOSTON. Educators are able to submit ideas for the Boston Teacher Leadership Summit through 11:59 PM ET January 2. At the Teach to Lead Regional Leadership Summit held in Boston February 5-7, teachers from around the country will work to advance teacher leadership in their district and state. They will also network with supporter organizations and gain important skills and feedback on their work.

poster from Louisville gallery walk

On the website, educators can submit their leadership ideas for Boston, read other teachers' ideas, comment and vote on them. 

The photo on the left shows the plan developed by one team at the Louisville, Ky., Summit, along with feedback they received during the gallery walk.

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT.  Read this blog about Mark Gardner's hybrid role as a high school English teacher and part-time mentor (Stories from School). Gardner offers insights into the power and potential of hybrid roles and provides suggestions for making them work. One important rule: Don't accept a job description that includes "other duties, as assigned."

Did you know?

Time for Teaching

The average secondary school teacher in the U.S. puts in 1,051 instructional hours per year.

In Finland, the average teacher teaches 553 instructional hours per year. In Korea, 609 hours. In England, 695. In Japan, 510.

This information comes from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development and is cited in an insightful blog by Ellie Herman (Washington Post). Herman quit her job as a teacher after burning out as an English teacher in South Los Angeles, Calif. "If I had to name the one thing that surprised me most about teaching," Herman writes, "it would be how utterly unintellectual it is, or becomes, when you have so many students with so many needs all coming at you at once, and you don’t have the time each of them deserves."

cover of report, TEACHERS KNOW BEST


What Teachers Want 

To gain insights into the roadblocks to implementing effective professional development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contracted with the Boston Consulting Group in 2014 to hear from more than 1,300 teachers, professional development leaders in district and state education agencies, principals, professional development providers, and thought leaders through surveys and interviews. 

Their report, Teachers Know Best: Teachers Views on Professional Development, offers insights into what works and what doesn't. One finding of the report is that professional learning is "highly fragmented and characterized by key disconnects between what decision-makers intend and the professional learning teachers actually experience."

Download the reportRead reflections about the report and recommendations from Learning Forward's Stephanie Hirsh (EdWeek). Learn about the Redesign Challenge, an online movement that encourages and supports educators across district and state boundaries to reimagine and test better ways to solve problems and educate our youth.

Teaching Ambassador Fellows with Secretary Duncan

Teaching Ambassador Fellows (TAFs) with Arne Duncan and TAF Director Gillian Cohen-Boyer at the National Board Teaching & Learning conference in Washington, D.C., last March.


Make Your Mark on Education Policy 

(and Vice Versa)

Applications for Teaching Ambassador Fellowship and Principal Ambassador Fellowship at the U.S. Department of Education have been released! 

Recognizing that teachers and principals are the most trusted sources of information about education policy for policymakers, the Teaching and Principal Ambassador Fellowships serve to connect ED's programs, policies, and resources directly to the field. 

Since 2008, the Department has employed 87 outstanding teachers on a full- or part-time basis through the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program. Last year, ED piloted a Principal Ambassador Fellowship that brought in three talented principals

The Washington Fellowship is a full-time appointment, based at the Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Classroom Fellowship enables teachers and principals to participate on a part-time basis, while allowing them to fulfill their regular school responsibilities. 

Learn more about the Teaching and Principal Ambassador Fellowships. The application window for the coming school year closes on January 14, 2015 at 11:59 p.m., ET.


“Lots of reading of easy text will not adequately prepare students for dealing with difficult text.”          

--Timothy Shanahan in his article, "HOW AND HOW NOT TO PREPARE STUDENTS FOR THE NEW TESTS" (The Reading Teacher). Shanahan's piece gives practical tips to help students become powerful readers, while offering insights into what the new Common Core tests will and will not tell educators.

Quote to Note

the New Math


Subject Knowledge Gaps

Only 20 states and the District of Columbia require elementary teaching candidates to pass a content test in each of the four core subject areas;

Only five states – Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota and Tennessee – require secondary level teachers to pass a test in each subject they will be licensed to teach in high school.

From the National Council on Teacher Quality's eighth annual State Teacher Policy Yearbook, which focuses on state efforts to align their requirements for teacher preparation and licensure with the skills needed to prepare students for college and careers.

The report also finds that only five states – Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Texas – are on the right track in terms of aligning state requirements for teacher preparation with college-and career-readiness standards while also setting higher expectations for obtaining a teacher license.

Now, that's progress


Clinically Rich Teacher Prep

Read about New York teachers Nichole Mantas and Eric Reisweber,who say that New York's Clinically Rich teacher preparation programs helped them get ready for their first days as a teacher of record in the state. 

The PROGRESS blog reports on New York’s Clinically Rich programs that give teacher candidates approximately 10 months of teaching experience in classrooms under the tutelage of an experienced mentor teacher. The strengthened teacher preparation programs also established partnerships with high needs schools to help them address perennial shortages of candidates in areas such as mathematics, science and special education. 

Teachers who have gone through the programs say the extended internships that are part of the programs gave them the knowledge, skills, confidence and experience necessary to succeed in their first year on the job. The mentors who work with the teacher candidates agree that the internships, combined with practical coursework, give them a strong start. Research also shows that this approach to training new teachers makes it less likely that novice teachers will leave the classroom within their first few years in the profession.

New Green Strides Webinars

Dec. 16, 2014, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Bed Bugs in Schools (EPA)

Dec. 16, 2014, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.  Solar System Scale:  Modeling and Kinesthetic (NASA)

Dec. 18, 2014, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Solar System and the Periodic Table (NASA)

Jan. 8, 2014, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.  Federal Principles Checklist in ENERGY STAR (EPA)

Jan. 14, 2015, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Summer Meals:  Funding and Grant Opportunities (USDA)

Jan. 22, 2015, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.  Summer Meals:  Engaging Tribal Organizations (USDA)

Jan. 27, 2015, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Summer Meals:  Explore the New Toolkit (USDA)


Kimberly Lynn Wester-Riddle

Last week, a wreath was placed at the Memorial to Fallen Educators (Emporia, Ks.) to remember the life of Kimberly Lynn Wester-Riddle, the teacher’s aide who was tragically killed on December 2 in Knoxville, Tenn., when two school buses collided. Her name will be etched in gold on one of the two black granite books that stand as a reminder that educators are often our children’s first responders and protectors from danger. Learn more (Emporia Gazette).


Good Stuff for Eduwonks

ACHIEVING EDUCATION MOONSHOTS BY RETHINKING R&D. Every organization can benefit from an internal group that focuses on promoting and creating game-changing innovations. At ED, a new STEM team is looking to a proven model of research and development that led to innovations such as the moon landing to reimagine the nation’s approach to STEM education and help regain America’s national leadership in high school and college graduation rates. In his blog about this new approach to education R&D, Russ Shilling, ED’s STEM executive director, explains how efforts to combine basic and applied research can lead to “education moonshots.”

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS. The teachers at ED like this website created as an open marketplace where teachers create, buy and sell original teaching resources. It houses gobs of free and inexpensive materials--everything from clip art to themed math games--organized by age and subject. 

• THE IMPORTANCE OF FUNDING ALL SCHOOLS. In an op-ed written in the Philadelphia Inquirer Arne Duncan speaks out against the current state of school funding. “As I watch what is happening in Philadelphia’s public education system, I can only conclude that until some glaring funding injustices are fixed, in Philadelphia and in many school systems around the country, we will never live up to our nation’s aspirational promises of justice,” Duncan writes. He continues, saying that although “few question that education is the key to American growth and prosperity...too many systems value some children’s futures more than others’.”

• WHERE DO TEENS HAVE THE MOST HOMEWORK? Next time your students (or parents) complain about too much homework, hit them with this fact: In Shanghai, students spend about 14 hours a week on after-school work. On the other hand, students in Singapore spend only 3 hours a week, according to a new report on data produced by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Find out where the U.S. stands in this article in the Atlantic (Kohli). 

open book

Recommended Reading

ARE STUDENT-CENTERED APPROACHES TO MATH "TRENDY" OR "USEFUL"? Which is better, a great teacher who explains things clearly, perhaps even with wit and humor, or a legendary teacher who takes a more Socratic approach and masterfully guides students to their own conclusions?" Read a blog in the Hechinger Report to find out, and check out the results of the research study to learn more. 

Questions or comments about The Teachers Edition? Send them to ED's Teacher Liaison, Laurie Calvert: Laurie.Calvert@ed.gov.

educators at the Louisville Summit

(Left) Educators at the Louisville, Ky., Teach to Lead Summit

Top 5 Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "Teaching with outstanding practitioners has been the key to my professional development." (Teacher, Los Angeles, Calif.)

4. "The Teach to Lead Summit in Louisville was . . . the first time in my teaching career where I was able to engage in solutions-oriented collaboration with other teachers.  It was truly inspiring to be in the same room with so many amazing teacher leaders who are passionate about teaching and learning." (Teacher, Ky.) 

3. “Evaluation systems should be designed to encourage the best teachers to teach our most vulnerable students (Social Studies Coach, Oakland County, Mich.)

2. "Education reform must start in the classroom with teacher leaders willing to take risks to enhance student learning." (Principal, Fla.)

1. "You don’t ask great surgeons: 'Hey, when are you going to stop being a surgeon?' So, why do that to great teachers?" (Teacher, Omaha, Neb.)