July 19 TEACHING MATTERS Newsletter


July 19, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

Secretary Duncan talking to Fellows

Teaching Fellows Represent

Last week was bittersweet at the Department of Education (ED). After a truly incredible year working with some of the best teachers in the country, the Department released the 2011-2012 Teaching Ambassador Fellows to return to their work in classrooms and school districts across the country. All of us at the Department are grateful for their amazing work.

In this ED.gov blog, Secretary Arne Duncan thanks the most recent cohort of 16 Fellows and reflects on the contributions that they have made to the Department's efforts to transform the teaching profession. Read the Fellows' bios as well as more information about the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program.

Summer Seminar Gets Personal

Recently teachers from across the country participated in ED's Summer Seminar for Teachers to grapple with an emerging hot topic in education:  how to personalize learning in a classroom full of diverse students with varying interests, skills and learning styles.

personalized learning slide with student smiling
The seminar, held at the U.S. Department of Education and via webinar, included current and former classroom teachers who offered both the theory and practical strategies for teachers interested in moving their classroom learning beyond a one-size-fits-all mentality. Read more. Read the related ED Week blog post. Check out Summer Seminar information and materials, including a video feed of the webinar and Power Point slide presentations.

Teachers Tweet Teaching Aspirations

Recently, Secretary Duncan posed a question to his Twitter followers: Teachers, what do you hope to accomplish in your career? Read some of the thoughtful and inspiring responses.

August is the Month of the

Connected Educator 

Learn how online communities and learning networks are helping hundreds of thousands of educators learn, reducing isolation and providing “just in time” access to knowledge and opportunities for collaboration. Check out the calendar of events for ED's Connected Educator Month. Beginning July 24 and running through August, the Department will host a number of daily webinars, blog and Twitter discussions, forums, online chats and other events and activities to help teachers broaden their technical skills and enhance their personal learning networks. An intensive, two-day, online conference on transforming teaching and learning — featuring U.S. Department of Education senior officials and education thought leaders — will kick off the month. Get more information.

cartoon boat captain

Teachers Reject “Captain Bligh” Principals

The role of a principal in student achievement is critical. Yet, principals have increasingly been asked to take on more responsibilities, preventing them from being able to lead the school community in effective teaching and learning. In this ED blog post, Teaching Ambassador Fellow Greg Mullenholz shares the lessons he has learned during his tenure at ED about effective school leadership.

The New Math

School is too easy?  According to a new analysis of federal research data...
  • 37% of fourth-graders say their math work is "often" or "always" too easy.
  • 57% of eighth-graders say their history work is "often" or "always" too easy.
  • 39% of 12th-graders say they rarely write about what they read in class.
  • 1 in 5 eighth-graders say they read more than 20 pages a day - most report that they read far less.

Teacher Negotiation Reform: Beating Swords Into Ploughshares

In this post, Steve Owens discusses the work of the Labor-Management Collaboration Conferences in Denver and Cincinnati and explains the local impact of those conferences in Vermont, which has been considerable. Read the cross-post on EDWeek.
peace cartoon

Video Offerings

  • ED Mailbag. In this video message, Arne Duncan answers questions about standardized testing and accountability for parents.
  • Ten Years of Arts Integration. This video depicts grantees of the Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination and Professional Development for Art Educators programs sharing some of their best practices, evidence of students' academic gains, and other experiences of building a positive environment for the arts in their schools and communities.

White House Announces STEM Master Teacher Corps

The Obama Administration recently announced a plan for the creation of a new, national Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps composed of some of the nation’s finest educators in these subjects. The STEM Master Teacher Corps will begin with 50 exceptional STEM teachers established in 50 sites and will be expanded over 4 years to reach 10,000 Master Teachers. These selected teachers will make a multi-year commitment to the Corps and, in exchange for their expertise, leadership and service, will receive an annual stipend of up to $20,000 on top of their base salary. The Administration will launch this Teacher Corps with the $1 billion from the President’s 2013 budget request currently before Congress. Read more.

student nea members at table with arne

RESPECT in the News

NEA Student Members Speak to ED. A group of student NEA members recently sat down with Secretary Duncan to provide their unique insight as future teachers about how this nation can do a better job of attracting, supporting, and learning from great teachers. Read the NEA Today article.

Teachers' Notes

  • Watch this special conversation with Frederick M. Hess and Andrew P. Kelly about their new ground-breaking book on the evolving federal role in education, Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit: Lessons from a Half-Century of Federal Efforts to Improve America's Schools, moderated by ED Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach Peter Cunningham. 
  • Manage student loan debt with Financial Awareness Counseling Tool, the new interactive loan counseling tool released by U.S. Department of Education to provide students with financial management basics, such as information about their current loan debt and estimates for student loan debt levels after graduation. Read the ED blog and the press release.
  • New York City College of Technology, CUNY (NY) launched an open source digital platform for teaching, learning, and collaboration, the OpenLab, which allows its users to create courses, projects, clubs, and online portfolios, and share their work with one another and the world beyond City Tech.

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from teachers heard by ED

5.  On implementing positive change in schools:  “It all depends on how good your principal is whether this stuff actually happens.” (Austin, Texas)
4. “Right now there are so many mandates in schools.  There should be no mandation without representation.” (Greensboro, N.C.)
3. ““Training for principals----needs to be even more important---than the training for teachers.” (Bronx, N.Y.)
2. “We do a miserable job of adequately communicating the fact that teaching is an intellectually worthy career. It is intellectually engaging and worthy of our best minds to be in that space.”(Calif.)
1.   “As teachers accept more responsibility, they also need to be trusted and given more control.”  (Centreville, Md.)
teacher talking to Arne

Teaching Ambassadors Recommend Reading

  • From Laurie CalvertTrending Toward Reform:  Teachers Speak on Unions and the Future of the Profession, by Sarah Rosenberg and Elena Silva, published by Education Sector. This report examines changes in teacher opinion from 2001 to 2011 and looks closely at differences between new teachers and veterans. The findings show strong continued support among teachers for unions, but they also reveal that teachers want to see unions take a stronger role in educational reform. There are a number of other interesting findings, including "a growing sense among teachers that elements of teaching are improving."