July 31, 2012 TEACHING MATTERS Newsletter


July 31, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

STEM teachers discuss Master Teacher Corps with Presidential advisors and Duncan

Presidential Advisors Invite Teachers to the White House Table

President Obama unveiled plans for a new STEM Master Teacher Corps and invited accomplished teachers to the White House to talk about it with the President's advisors and the U.S. Secretary of Education. Read the blog written by STEM teacher Jessica Gogerty

New Office for African American Education

On Wednesday, during his remarks at the National Urban League conference in New Orleans, LA, President Obama announced that he would sign an Executive Order to improve outcomes and advance educational opportunities for African Americans. Noting that "education is essential for raising living standards," the order includes an initiative to identify evidence-based practices to improve African American students' achievement in school and college. The President also talked to students about their responsibility to get a good education and to work hard to be prepared for college and careers. “You’re competing against young people in Beijing and Bangalore," he told them. "They’re not hanging out. They’re not playing video games.”  Read more about the President's initiative.

Tennessee Teaching Transformation

Read Arne Duncan's Huffington Post article about how Tennessee has used its Race to the Top grant to build a stronger teaching profession in the state. 

New Math*

  • About 20% of the teachers in large urban districts are so effective that they are practically impossible to replace.
  • Irreplaceable teachers help their students achieve 5-6 more months of learning each year than students of low-performing teachers.
  • When an Irreplaceable leaves a struggling school, it can take 11 hires to find just one teacher of comparable quality.
  • Many Irreplaceables leave too early—at least 10,000 a year in the nation’s 50 largest school districts.
  • Many struggling teachers remain far too long. About 40% of teachers with more than 7 years of experience are less effective at advancing academic progress than the average first-year teacher.
*From TNTP's new report, The Irreplaceables.

Nebraska TOY Weighs in on Teacher Evaluation

Maddie Fennell, former Nebraska Teacher of the Year and chair of the National Education Association's Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching, is guest posting on the EdWeek blog this week.  Check out her first post, "How Do We Measure and Value Effectiveness?"
Some quotables:  •  We have too many traditional evaluation systems that are big on "gotcha" and miniscule on "grow ya."  •  In 2007 I was honored to be named the Nebraska Teacher of the Year. Like many of my fellow state Teachers of the Year, after the congratulations, the first question was, "When are you leaving the classroom?"
Maddie Fennell

Work of "Mr. Mullenholz" Profiled

Teaching Ambassador Fellow Greg Mullenholz is featured in the Maryland Gazette as a "Voice in Education."  Read the interview, where Mullenholz describes his work with teachers on the Department's RESPECT Project and his experience providing assistance to states receiving the Race to the Top grants. As a 2011-12 Fellow, he served as a link between policy and practice, regularly contributing his column  "Ask Mr. Mullenholz" for Teaching Matters

Budget Sequestration Threatens Students and Teachers

Last week on the Hill, Secretary Duncan spoke passionately about the effects of budget sequestration on school, testifying that “services would have to be slashed for more than 1.8 million disadvantaged students and thousands of teachers and aides would lose their jobs when automatic budget cuts kick in." He urged Congress to "find an alternative deficit-reduction plan that won’t undermine the Department’s ability to serve students in high-poverty schools and improve schools with high dropout rates.”  Read Duncan's testimony.

Arne Duncan, Levar Burton, and Miss Universe read to the children

Videos of Interest

  • May 2012 "School Days" Video (6 minutes)  includes clips of the 2012 Labor Management Conference, Teacher Appreciation Week and "ED Goes Back School," President Obama's Commencement addresses, Thank-a-Teacher, conversations about college affordability, and more. 
  • Let's Read, Let's Move. Over 150 students from the DC area participated in "Let's Read, Let's Move" activities led by Arne Duncan, two-time Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington, Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler, and Reading Rainbow host LeVar BurtonWatch video clips.
  • Cornell McClellan, the First Family’s Nutrition and Fitness Trainer joined Arne Duncan and Sam Kass, Assistant Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives at the White House, to read and talk to local children about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and learning over the summer. Watch video clips.

Teachers' Notes

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

(Wisdom from teachers heard by ED)

5. Reflecting on the importance of teachers: '”I save souls!" (STEM teacher)

4. "Education, in general, should move from a clinical, deficit-focused approach to a solution-focused approach where the classrooms are designed to match identified learning styles." (Virginia)

3. “(Education should) focus on training principals as well as teachers. A poor principal undermines even excellent teachers. An excellent principal sets the tone and expectations for the entire school...” (Nebraska)

2. “Teaching is a difficult profession because after I get feedback about what students have learned, I’m continually adjusting my lessons." (Louisiana)

1. " People may say that they don’t leave because of money, but it’s a lot about the money.” (North Carolina)
Arne Duncan talkig with a STEM teacher at the White House

Teaching Ambassadors Recommend Reading

  • From Geneviève DeBose: The Irreplaceables: Understanding the Real Retention Crisis in America's Urban Schools. This report released July 30 by the New Teacher Project examines the issue of teacher turnover, particularly the effects of schools losing their strongest teachers, those who are almost Irreplaceable based on their impact on students' learning. The authors provide research to argue that there are specific strategies school leaders can use to identify and retain these teachers.
  •  From Laurie Calvert: "Creating 21st-Century Teachers for 21st-Century Students." This blog written for EdWeek by 2007 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Justin Minkel offers great insights about how his school has created an "ecosystem of education" that allows teachers to create "an open system that enables best practices to escape the confines of each teacher's classroom."