TEACHING MATTERS Newsletter--December 14, 2011

Teaching Matters


ED's bi-weekly newsletter celebrating teachers and teaching.

December 14, 2011  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

NBCTs Meeting at ED

Teachers Offer ED Expertise, Advice on Education's Toughest Challenges

After meeting with policymakers and lawmakers at the White House, 100 National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) gathered at the U.S. Department of Education to participate in intensive work sessions around their best ideas for solving some of our country's toughest educational challenges. Read the blog.

How to Provide Students with a Well-Rounded Education in the Age of Accountability

On December 2, Secretary Arne Duncan tackled this issue in remarks he made at the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Annual Conference. 
Read the Secretary's speech to NCSS members.  Read a recent Facebook message from Arne on the subject of teachers' salaries. 

Duncan Urges Teachers: Come to the Table

At a White House celebration of teaching to honor the newest National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs), Arne Duncan urged teachers to make their voices heard in the education dialog. 
"I think of the Civil Rights movement," Duncan told them. "They didn’t wait for a place at the table. They created their own.”
Read the blog by Teaching Ambassador Fellow Geneviève Debose, who led the panel with NBCTs and Arne Duncan.  Watch the YouTube video of the event, which included Melody Barnes, White House domestic policy director, as well as legislators and other educational leaders.
Arne Duncan with NBCTs at White House
Facebook logo

Arne Responds to Teachers on Facebook

Watch Secretary Duncan's video responding to teacher comments and questions from his Facebook page. Here he discusses the virtue of thanking our great teachers and the need to rein in spiraling college costs. 

Six False Dichotomies in Education

At Learning Forward’s 2011 Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif. last week, Sir Michael Barber offered the following list of false dichotomies in education, arguing that in every pair, both qualities are desirable and possible. According to Barber, "The road to hell in education is paved with false dichotomies." Barber's dichotomies include:
  1. Universal High Standards vs. Personalization
  2. Whole Systems vs. Autonomous Schools
  3. Best Practice vs. Innovation
  4. Teaching vs. Technology
  5. Public vs. Private
  6. Strategy vs. Implementation 

At the U.S. Department of education, we would add these false binaries to the mix as well:
     7.   Unions vs. Reformers
     8.   Charter Schools vs. District Schools
Sir Michael  Barber

How Can Parents and Teachers Work Together to Improve Student Achievement?

Teachers offer advice to other teachers about how to build relationships with their students' families. Read the blog, which includes embedded advice that teachers sent through Twitter. 
Fayetteville Graduation

Education: Still the Great Equalizer

“In America, education is still the great equalizer,” Secretary Duncan told a group of graduates at Fayetteville State University’s Winter Commencement in North Carolina on Saturday, December 10. Duncan described the importance of education in today’s economy, and that education is, in the long run… Continue reading the blog
Read Duncan's speech, which urges graduates to follow their passion and lead lives of consequence. 
NBPTS logo

By the Numbers

1987 -- The year the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) was formed
6,266 -- The number of teachers who achieved National Board Certification in 2011
97,291 -- The total of National Board Certified Teachers in the U.S.
15% -- The percentage of NBCTs who are certified in STEM fields
55% -- The percentage of NBCTs who teach in high-needs schools (Title I)
(Source:  NBPTS)

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from Teachers (Heard by ED)
5. "Teaching *is* a profession, and an important one – indeed, the *most* important one, since it feeds all of the others." (Nalin, on the blog
4. Why transforming teaching is difficult: "We need to make our practice public, and that is scary." (Omaha, Neb.)
3. On the continually increasing number of tasks that classroom teachers are being asked to accomplish:  "I want the departments of education to be more cautious about (the) use of a teacher's time. We need time to think meaningfully and to collaborate." (Spring Lake, Minn.)
2. Why it is important that students not be short-changed on their social studies courses despite history, civics, economics and geography not being part of their state accountability plan: "Students have to know their rights and their responsibilities. They have to understand economics. When the kids in Koreatown (in Los Angeles) don't graduate, their only option is crime. Our country needs to get this: we can invest in education or we can spend more on prisons." (Los Angeles, Calif.)
1. What drives a teacher to close the gaps: “There is no censorship so perfect, so complete as that imposed on the nonreader." (Jonathan Kozol, as quoted by Jim Knight, an instructional coach in Lawrence, Kan.)
owl illustration
"School Days" Video Journal

"School Days" Video Chronicles ED News

The November 2011 edition of "School Days," the U.S. Department of Education's monthly video journal, looks at States seeking waivers from parts of the No Child Left Behind Act; a new report showing that schools serving low-income students aren't getting their fair share of state and local funds; Secretary Arne Duncan's visits to Ohio, Kentucky, and Rhode Island; and a lot more.

Ask Mr. Mullenholz...

       ...about Race to the Top!

Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow Greg Mullenholz answers teachers' burning questions about education policy. In this issue, he takes on Race to the Top (RTT). 
Teacher Question (TQ): What is Race to the Top (RTT)?
Mr. Mullenholz:  RTT is an historic, competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform. The program provides funding in addition to regular allocation streams for programs such as Title I.  

Teaching Ambassadors Recommend Reading

  • From Shakera Walker: Transforming Teaching: Connecting Professional Responsibility with Student Learning (by the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching, or CETT). This insightful report outlines a new action agenda to transform the teaching profession and accelerate student learning. The report incorporates proven best practices from thousands of leading teachers. At an event celebrating the report's release, Maddie Fennell, chairperson of the CETT and a fourth-grade teacher at Miller Park Elementary in Omaha, Neb. described the work as representing "a crucial step toward more effective teaching and student learning and encouraging the union to meet those needs.” 
  • From Juan Govea: Learning Forward's Standards for Professional Learning. I picked up a copy of the revised standards for professional learning for educators while at Learning Forward's annual conference in Anaheim last week. These recently updated standards strengthen the link to student achievement; integrate current research; establish high expectations for equity and excellence in professional learning; provide guidance in the design, implementation and evaluation of professional development; and identify policy recommendations that educators can use when working with their state and district. With all of the changes taking place in our profession, the revised Standards for Professional Learning are worth a close read.
  • From Steve Owens: In "Celebrating Labor-Management Collaboration: The Literature Grows," I review six new online and print publications on the subject of Labor-Management Collaboration. As a union leader, I have a deep appreciation for the U.S. Department of Education's efforts to promote collaboration. It’s great to see these efforts getting traction in a flurry of new publications.
  • From Lisa Coates: The Muskingum College Center for Advancement of Learning emphasizes the development of lifelong learning skills through its commitment to a learning-strategies philosophy. Their site General Learning Strategies features 22 topic areas and approximately 200 web pages related to learning styles and strategies. This in-depth resource contains information for educators, students and parents that will help students develop strategies necessary for success in post-secondary course work.
  • From Kareen Borders:  "In Yasir's shoes: A principal gains insight by shadowing an English language learner student," by Shari Farris. I highly recommend this article published last month by a doctoral candidate. It focuses on the power of shadowing in order to see school through a student's eyes.