THE TEACHERS EDITION -- February 12, 2015

The Teachers Edition

February 12, 2015  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

group selfie of all participants in Boston
teachers collaborating

Above: Boston Teach to Lead summit "selfie" representing 118 participants, 31 supporting organizations, 25 states, and 31 teacher leadership ideas.

Right: The teacher leader team from Kurt Hahn Expeditionary Learning School in New York working to design and implement a socio-emotional curriculum that they deem critical for their students' success.

speak the truth even if your voice shakes

Left: A message from 2010 Florida Teacher of the Year Megan Allen to teachers on the importance of standing up for their students and leading the changes in education.

Below: South Bronx teacher leader Geneviève DeBose tells her story and encourages others to do the same. The words of these teacher leaders were so inspiring, they spawned over 1000 tweets. One such example: "So wonderful hearing #teacherleaders tell stories @ #ttlsummit, message? Get out there, rise up, do not be afraid."

teacher speaking at podium



Riding the Struggle Bus

The pictures above tell 1000 words, but teacher leaders don't just tell; they show. And show they did! Last weekend in Boston, during the third Teach to Lead summit, educators came together for an intense weekend of collaboration and work to move their individual ideas for change forward. Throughout the many hours of concentrated focus, participants also experienced moments to share, celebrate and reflect on what teacher leadership looks and feels like. The two themes that resonated throughout: Leading takes courage and teachers must share their stories and those of their students to affect change. This weekend was one sentence in the teacher leadership story. As Shakera Walker, a self-proclaimed poster child of teacher leadership, put it: we must "ride the struggle bus of teacher leadership" every day if we are going to make progress, because, in the words of Geneviève DeBose, "Our students depend on it."

Read about one teacher at ED's perspective on the significance of Teach to Lead and her experiences at the first two summits. Check out the continued story of Denver Public Schools - who is building on their Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) supported work from the Denver summit to expand the teacher leadership program.

SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS. The list of organizations interested in supporting this movement keeps growing. One new organization, Public Impact, has joined the Teach to Lead initiative, bringing the current team of supporters to 65. 

Cory Notestine

The First Lady applauds Counselor of the Year Cory Notestine.


Counselor Helps Those Without A Voice

School counselors are the ones who “track students down who don’t think they’re college material, or who don’t think they can afford it, and they shake them up and they tell them, ‘You have what it takes,'" said First Lady Michelle Obama. 

She was honoring Cory Notestine, a school counselor from Alamosa High School (Alamosa, Colo.) as the 2015 School Counselor of the Year at a White House event in collaboration with the American School Counselor Association. Read more.

White House Film fest entry

Second grade students who wanted to make a difference by helping others while learning more about themselves.


The Gift of Giving

In this inspiring video submitted by Melissa Collins to the 2nd annual White House Film Festival contest, second grade students from John P. Freeman Optional School (Memphis, TN) show how they learned that it is better to give than receive. The theme of this year’s festival was "The Impact of Giving Back.”


Not for Naught

In this Smart Blog, Secretary Arne Duncan speaks out on expanding opportunity, increasing flexibility and giving schools and educators more of the resources they need as Congress renews the outdated ESEA law.

“Teachers, principals, students and families have helped to spur enormous progress in education throughout the country — leading to our highest high-school graduation rate in history, dropout rates at historic lows, and a million more black and Hispanic students in college than there were in 2008. I believe we need to double down on that kind of progress and expand opportunity for America’s children — not turn back the clock,” Duncan says. Read more about what a new ESEA could mean for educators in the blog

 ESEA 101

The History of School Accountability

The George W. Bush Center has released an interesting history lesson about how school accountability emerged as an issue in American education and the winding road on which it has traveled since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was first signed in 1965. As the debate over testing intensifies, and as states and districts work to reduce excessive testing, it may be helpful to remember that the concept of annual testing began as a civil rights issue and to reflect on how accountability has affected the educational landscape. The writers assert that not long after the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling that ended school segregation, Americans believed "no longer would it be right to have major gaps between the academic achievement of white and minority students."

Did you know?

Discover Free eBooks

Tom Bober, who works as a library media specialist in Clayton, Mo. uses one of the Library of Congress’s new interactive ebooks, The Student Discovery Sets, (free for iPads on iBooks primary sources) to integrate research skills into his classes. 

Students loved the pinch and zoom feature, the draw feature, and used a finger to write “Why?” to help them focus their conversations about the writing. Read more of his excerpted blog to learn more.


Principal Lopez honored by POTUS

Principal Lopez reminds educators of the impact their words can have on the success of their students. 


The Lopez Effect Goes Viral

Take the time to listen, mentor and show them the way – is the mantra of Mott Hall Bridges Academy (Brooklyn, NY) principal Nadia Lopez who captured the attention of the nation after being spotlighted on Humans of New York. Lopez has helped raise more than $1 million for her students and recently met with President Barack Obama and Secretary Duncan in Washington, D.C. 

P Chat

Principal Chat

PRINCIPALS DEMAND A REDSIGN. We need more effective and more rigorous clinical experience and strong mentoring support for principals, argues commentator Arthur Levine in Real Clear Education. He calls for principals to be trained like MBAs in order to advance leadership preparation. Read more.

Common Core Connections

HELPING PARENTS UNDERSTAND. Milestones is a free online collection of great videos that help parents understand grade-level expectations for the Common Core in grades K-5. The videos show students demonstrating what success looks like in reading, writing and math, grade-by-grade in English and Spanish.

PRACTICE MATH. To help teachers, schools, students and parents get ready for performance-based assessments in Math, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) states have released practice tests for all grade levels in both computer-based formats and PDFs to print. The practice tests will help them increase familiarity with the type and format of the questions and the ins-and-outs of the computer and paper versions. Learn more.

CORE BY ANY OTHER NAME... In this commentary from former North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, she advocates for higher standards “whether you call them Common Core or whether every state gives them a different name.” Read more.

FINDING A WAY. Brown Center on Education Policy Senior Fellow Tom Loveless comments on the debate roiling schools in the San Francisco Bay Area on the new CCSS-aligned math program. Parents have been complaining about the new curriculum that will reduce eighth grade enrollments in algebra I and eliminate geometry altogether as a middle school course. He also highlights the ability of the Common Core to create a more equitable curriculum able to meet the needs of all students, including advanced learners.

SCHOOLING PARENTS ON THINKING DIFFERENTLY. This video features five Michigan educators that are helping parents better understand Common Core Math standards and parents’ reactions to it. 

heart with empathy resources


Be My Valentine

Mini postcards decked out with the animated stars of the moment, roses and lovegrams, and pastel candies color the halls during Valentine's Day week. Teachers wanting to capitalize on this holiday for teachable moments will appreciate Edutopia's work in gathering resources from such sources as Teaching Tolerance, Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, for teaching students citizenship, anti-bullying, kindness, and empathy. Check out this empathy-building toolkit from Start Empathy and this video that spells out the difference between sympathy and empathy.


“Teachers are well aware that education is at least partly a matter of informing students that some of what they think they know just isn’t so.”

(From “Student Misconceptions: Where Do They Come From and What Can We Do?” by Annette Taylor and Patricia Kowalski in Applying Science of Learning in Education: Infusing Psychological Science into the Curriculum, Society for the Teaching of Psychology.)

Quote to Note

percentage of students who are black and in top colleges


Black Students at Top Colleges: Exceptions, 

Not the Rule

This sobering report out of Brookings examines the income gap for black students and traces it, in part, to under representation in elite colleges. Read the story (Rothwell).

TAF and PAF news

• MARYANN WOODS-MURPHY (2011 Classroom Fellow), the Gifted and Talented Specialist for the Nutley, New Jersey, school district and New Jersey State Teacher of the Year in 2010 has created many project-based activities and helped other teachers brainstorm ideas and generate creative classroom strategies. She regularly visits the Edutopia website and calls it a partner in her quest to embrace project-based learning. Read more


Retaining Top Teacher Talent

It’s no secret that many teachers leave the classroom within five years, and often students pay the price for losing them. One reason teachers slip away is the shortage of opportunities for teachers to grow and lead.

Read the Teach Plus policy paper, The Decade-Plus Teaching Career: How to Retain Effective Teachers Through Teacher Leadership, to learn more about ways teachers, schools and organizations are implementing the top three strategies for retaining the best teachers for a lifelong career in the classroom. 

According to the report, the top strategies for keeping the best teachers with students who need them most include:

1. Create career ladders with opportunities for leadership and specialization.

2. Partner with organizations to grow teacher leadership.

3. Restructure staffing and scheduling.

Students' Corner

Tools for Students

SO MANY DEADLINES. FAFSA deadlines can be hard to understand, but this blog explains that an easy rule of thumb is to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) based on the earliest due date possible. Learn more


Good Stuff for Eduwonks

PRE-K PAY-OFF. A new study by researchers at Duke University found that early education enrollment often reduces the number of students enrolled in special education later on. Researchers Clara G. Muschkin, Helen F. Ladd, and Kenneth A. Dodge found children enrolled in early-education programs were 39 percent less likely to be placed in special education by the time they reached third grade. Read more.

COLLEGE AND CAREER READINESS CENTER. The College and Career Readiness and Success Center released its updated interactive state map. The map offers a snapshot of various initiatives that states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories are taking to improve college and career readiness. These initiatives include AP and CTE programs, dual enrollment, state longitudinal data systems, and secondary and post-secondary alignment.

A BOOST FOR NATIVE YOUTH. Generation Indigenous is a new initiative in the President’s budget request that would help reduce barriers to success for Native American youthThe Department of Interior's budget includes $1 billion to transform the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) so it can better support tribes in educating their youth and delivering a world-class and culturally appropriate education across Indian Country. ED's budget includes $53 million for Native Youth Community Projects that would improve college- and career-readiness among Native youth (see fact sheet).  

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• TEACHING TOLERANCE WEBINAR. Building Literacy Skills and Teaching about the Civil Rights Movement with Primary Sources is the second in a four-part webinar series from the Library of Congress and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Analyze a map and explore the map’s context—the world in which it was created, not only the world it shows. Register here for the one hour presentation on February 19.

 • HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRESIDENT WASHINGTON. Interesting ways to celebrate Washington’s Birthday and honor or commemorate all U.S. presidents can be found on the Library of Congress’s website in A Presidential Blog Roundup by Danna Bell.  

 • WE ALL GROW. According to commentary by Carol Ann Tomlinson, in response to an Education Week essay by James R. Delisle (which provoked an avalanche of reader comments), differentiation works because the focus is on the student first and teachers can grow just as much as kids.

 • COMMON GOAL POSTS. Some reasons for keeping tests center-stage in the current ESEA reauthorization debate are featured in the blog by Betheny Gross, Let’s Not Poke Our Own Eyes Out.

 • GENDER BIAS. More boys are diagnosed with ADHD than girls, even if they don’t fit all the diagnostic criteria. Mary Bates looks at the problem in her brief article in Psychology Today.

• BE A LITERACY LEADER. The Library of Congress Center for the Book announced that applications are being accepted until March 31, for the 2015 Library of Congress Literacy Awards. These awards recognize organizations doing exemplary, innovative and replicable work over a sustained period of time and encourage new groups, organizations and individuals to become involved. All groups that work to promote literacy are encouraged to apply. Learn more.

Black History Month


On Racial Equality

During February, The Teachers Edition will feature teaching resources to support this year's African American History Month theme, "A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture," which focuses on African Americans who struggled to achieve equality in American society. 

 IN THEIR OWN BACKYARD. Segregation and desegregation in Boston are not “black and white” issues, and as Boston Public Schools marks the 40th anniversary of the implementation of the “forced busing,” or the desegregation order, they want students to learn about this troubling time in their history. Check out the resources and other teacher tools for helping students explore this topic.

• MORE THAN A MONTH’S WORTH. Hosted by the Library of Congress, more than seven federal agencies have teamed up to create a site filled with teacher resources related to the themes of civil rights, Frederick Douglass, the kidnapping of Free African Americans, and much more 

Emerging Research


Creating Birds of Similar Feathers

A study being reviewed by the Journal of Educational Psychology examines how identifying commonalities between high-school students and their teachers improve teacher-student relationships and student achievement, particularly among black and Hispanic learners. Learn more (Marshall Memo). Download the study by Hunter Gehlbach, Maureen Brinkworth, Aaron King, Joe McIntyre, Laura Hsu, and Todd Rogers.

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

Arne Duncan talking with Nadia Lopez at ED

NYC Principal Nadia Lopez (center) talks with Arne Duncan at ED. Lopez was honored as one of the "Humans of New York," and inspired a viral video that raised money for education. She met with President Obama before visiting Duncan and his advisors. Learn more.   

Top 5 Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "I'm hoping for an ESEA bill that will be flexible enough to meet the needs of the range of kids we have, especially our English learners." (English Teacher, Montgomery County, Md.)

4. “The teachers hold themselves to a higher standard than any politician ever could. We are motivated by the passion of what we do; not what we are told to do by someone else.” (Teacher, Wash.)

3. "Zip code should not determine what resources you have. But it does." (Teacher, D.C.)

2. "One thing that makes teachers so much more effective is giving them autonomy." (Math Teacher, Montgomery County, Md.) 

1. "It's great that I am at the U.S. Department of Education today because I'm teaching my students about the [concept of] bureaucracy right now." (History Teacher, Prince George's County, Md.)