TEACHING MATTERS -- October 2, 2012


October 2, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

signing the National Teacher Hall of Fame register

Rewarding and Supporting Great Teaching

ED Announces 2012 TIF Grants

The U.S. Department of Education announced 35 Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grants to improve pay structures, reward great teachers and principals and provide greater professional opportunities to teachers in high poverty schools. "Whether urban or rural, traditional or charter, successful schools are not possible without great teaching and leadership," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Our best teachers and principals are invaluable leaders in changing life outcomes for students. They are desperately needed in our struggling schools, and they deserve to be recognized, rewarded, and given the opportunity to have a greater influence on their colleagues, students, and in their communities." Read more. Check out the grantees.

You're Invited! Rural Dropout Prevention Webinar

On October 12, 2012, from 1:30 - 3:00 pm EDT, the U.S. Department of Education and Jobs for the Future will host the second in a series of webinars on rural dropout prevention and recovery. In this webinar, Utilizing the Village: Using Early Warning Indicators and Interventions to Help Rural Students Succeed in School, Dr. Robert Balfanz of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University will discuss the unique needs of rural communities, and district leaders will showcase effective interventions that are working in their schools. Participants will also have an opportunity to share prevention/intervention best practices with peers. Principals, teachers, counselors, district leaders should register for this free event.

Teachers at ED

Assistant Secretary Deb Delisle's Teaching Roots

Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Delisle began her career as an elementary and middle school teacher and has worked in multiple capacities at the school, district, and state levels. After 37 years in education, her “heart lies with kids every day,” and her roots as an educator guide her decisions in her new role at the national level. Read more.
Deb Delisle

The New Math

According to the College Board, SAT scores are in decline. The latest release of scores suggests that 57% of high school seniors are not ready for college. Here are some additional stats on the 2012 SAT scores:
  • 496 = the average critical reading score (down 1 point from a year ago, the lowest since data became available in 1972).
  • 488 = the average score for writing (down 1 point, the lowest since writing was added to the exam in 2006).
  • 514 = the average score for math (no change from last year).
  • 45% = the number of test takers who were minority students (up from 44% in the class of 2011 and 38% in the class of 2008), making this the most diverse class of SAT takers ever.
* See the related Washington Post article.

School Turnaround Learning Community Goes Viral

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education opened the School Turnaround Learning Community (STLC)  to the public, offering a wealth of resources and networking opportunities to educators throughout the country. The STLC is a collaboration platform that enables educators to share success stories, learn from colleagues throughout the country, and inform the Department with their expertise. Currently, the STLC has 4300 subscribed members, provides approximately 500 turnaround school resources, facilitates eight discussion boards, and has hosted nearly 60 webinars on various topics including teacher and leader effectiveness, increased learning time, and community and parent engagement.

Literacy and Learning Exchange Offers School Teams Free Access to Resources to Advance Literacy Teaching and Learning

NCLE logo
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) at schools or districts can sign up to work collaboratively and receive free access to journal articles, webinars, videos, and other resources that correspond to their needs and interests by registering for the National Center for Literacy Education's (NCLE) Literacy and Learning Exchange. Teams receive access to an Asset Inventory (a tool used to evaluate their literacy needs), professional learning guides who provide feedback and recommendations based on their findings, and resources from the organizations that support the National Center, including NCTE, NCTM, NBPTS,NSTA, Learning Forward, and the National Writing Project, to name a few.

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ED Facts

Did You Know?

The Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program, and the parent Fulbright International Educational Exchange Program, offer opportunities for teachers to travel abroad for professional development while engaging in professional and cultural exchange with educators from all over the world. The Fulbright Program began in 1946 when the late-U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright sponsored legislation to create the program to increase mutual understanding between America and the rest of the world. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $2.9 million in grants for Fulbright-Hays International Education Projects. The U.S. Department of State oversees other Fulbright programs for teachers.  

TNTP's Fishman Teachers Write About How to Engage Students

The New Teacher Project (TNTP) recently released Unlocking Student Effort, a resource on how to "engage, challenge, and inspire students to excellence." Essays written by the Fishman Prize winners focus on a common challenge many teachers face: how to engage reluctant students in rigorous academic content. Their narratives are completely inspiring as they paint thoughtful pictures of their break-through moments team-building, sparking curiosity, writing authentically, creating an urgent classroom culture, and investing students in something bigger than themselves. 

Things that Make Us Say, "Wow!"

In this column, we showcase amazing examples of best practices in education throughout the country.

Preparing Teachers to Lead and Succeed: Emporia State University Teachers College

classroom with student teacher and mentor teacher
During the Education Drives America Bus Tour 2012, Secretary Arne Duncan and National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel stopped at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas, home of the National Teacher Hall of Fame and a model teacher preparation program. Based on a medical residency model, Emporia State University Teachers College works with 34 professional development schools and emphasizes year-long in-classroom training alongside veteran educators. Their program boasts a 92% teacher retention rate after three years - almost twice the national average. Watch this video about Emporia State University's Teacher Preparation program. Read the related Emporia Gazette article.

Teachers' Notes

Mitchell 20 movie poster

New Teacher Quality Documentary Released

Mitchell 20: Teacher Quality is the Answer is the story of 20 teachers at an inner-city school in Phoenix, Arizona, who come together to improve the quality of their teaching. For more information, go here

Stumped by the Common Core?  Don't Know Where To Start?

Teaching Channel Offers Great C.C. Resources

If you haven't checked out the Teaching Channel recently, you might be interested in their 130+ videos to help teachers teach the Common Core State Standards. In the videos, teachers of different grades and subjects demonstrate lessons and explain strategies. They also discuss the variety of ways highly skilled teachers engage students. One teacher uses class consensus and equity sticks to sort equations in an eighth grade math class, and another works with a small group of fifth graders to help English Language Learners write about viewpoint in a challenging nonfiction text.

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED at NBC's recent Education Nation Summit at the NYC Public Library Sept. 23-25

5. On why she does not use poverty to explain why her students are behind: "Children's brains don't come with a zip code." (principal from Calif.)
4. On the need for educators, policymakers, and politicians to commit to closing achievement gaps: "The problem in American education is not a skill-set issue; It's a will-set issue." (teacher from Fla.)
3. On the need to create fun and engaging lessons: "Students aren't just driven [to do well in school] by economics or profit." (teacher)
2. On the gender gap in math and science: "Girls are getting the message early on that math is not for them." (college professor)
1. On effective teaching versus technology: "The magic of a classroom is a good teacher, not a computer. (teacher)
from Education Nation

educator blogs

Recommended Reading

Here are some off-the-beaten-path educator blogs that have recently caught our attention.