TEACHING MATTERS -- October 11, 2012


October 11, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

children in circle

How to Spot and Stop a Clasroom Bully

In just about every class, teachers juggle a number of tasks--classroom management, instruction, cooperative learning, guided practice, and administrative responsibilities--to help their students learn. Every teacher  also knows that the balancing act is undermined the moment a bully enters the room. Students can't learn when their learning environment becomes compromised and they feel unsafe.

How do teachers stop the bullying? What if a teacher doesn't even realize that the bullying is occurring? In an effort to help teachers address these questions, the U.S. Department of Education Safe and Supportive Technical Assistance Center has created - with input from National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers - a free, research-based training for classroom teachers on bullying. The two-part training tackles how to manage in-the-moment bullying, as well as how to prevent it, and offers strategies for creating a safe classroom. Read more. Also check out the federal website dedicated to stopping bullying.

Sweet Inspiration

Caine's Arcade--Chapter Two

Last year, the story of 9-year-old Caine Monroy and his cardboard arcade in the back of his father's parts store in East Los Angeles went viral. Since then, it's earned him more than $100,000 for college and inspired a nation. Watch the sequel that shows the power of imagination and reminds viewers how Caine's story inspired others to dream big and make things happen. But have a box of tissues nearby.

Caine in front of his arcade

Hope Street Fellowship Application Open

Hope Street Group seeks applicants for the 2013 class of National Teacher Fellows. The National Teacher Fellows are current classroom teachers and coaches who are leaders among their peers and who want to share their expertise and ideas in helping shape national policy. They will participate in meaningful online and in-person dialogue with other outstanding teachers from across the country to learn about other state reform efforts and advocate for education policy changes, focusing on teacher evaluation. See the website for more information and instructions on how to apply. Applications will be accepted until October 31, 2012.

Immigrants Still DREAM

The Center for American Progress issued a report this month on the Economic Benefits of the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act would provide a pathway to permanent legal status for approximately 2.1 million undocumented youth in the country. The CAP report finds a number of benefits to states, including improved college completion rates and $329 billion added to the national economy by 2030. Read about Ann Garcia's journey to Florida at age 10 and what caused her to become a DREAMer.

Teach Plus teacher

Teachers on Teacher Evaluation

"They were only giving me surface feedback because they only had a surface understanding of what was going on in my classroom."

Check out this 7-minute video of Memphis, Tenn., and District of Columbia teachers describing their experiences with teacher evaluation, including what worked and what didn't. The teachers, who are also Teach Plus Policy Fellows, offer insights about best practices and advice for both teachers and administrators on how to avoid common pitfalls. Produced by Teach Plus and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Students' Corner

Resources educators can share with students.

State Department Sponsors Study Abroad Programs for High School Students

  • National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) offers merit-based scholarships for overseas study of seven critical foreign languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Persian (Tajik), Russian and Turkish. Applications due November 1, 2012.
  • Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad Program focuses on increasing understanding between people in the U.S. and countries with significant Muslim populations. Students spend the academic year in countries such as Bosnia & Herzegovina, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mali (semester), Morocco, Oman, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, and Turkey. Visit the YES program website for more information.
  • Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX) was established in 1983 to celebrate German-American friendship based on common values of democracy. Secondary school students live with host families, attend local schools, and participate in community life in Germany. Young professionals (undergraduates) and high school graduates of vocational studies ages 18-24 study and participate in practical training. More information.
  • American Youth Leadership Program offers opportunities for American high school students and educators to travel abroad on a three- to four-week exchange program to gain first-hand knowledge of foreign cultures and to collaborate on solving global issues. More information.

teacher helping a student with a problem

Things that Make Us Say, "Wow!"

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

Engineers and Teachers Partner to Foster Interest in Computer Science

In an effort to hook students on computer science, Microsoft has launched a program where engineers from high-tech companies volunteer their mornings teaching computer science classes to high school students. Because these engineers have the content knowledge but lack the teaching skills, they partner with professional teachers. In addition to exposing students to real-life applicability, the program also addresses one of the biggest challenges facing the high-technology industry: the declining rate of computer science graduates to fill the increasing number of high-tech jobs. Read the NYTimes article.

Common Core State Standards

Did You Know?

During opening questioning after a recent speech at the Press Club, Arne Duncan tackled a common question asked by parents and teachers: "How can the federal government encourage states to adopt a common curriculum?" Duncan responded that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are not about common curriculum, but about common, high expectations. While the CCSS recommends some reading and expects sufficient rigor, states and districts retain control of the reading lists and student assignments. Watch the video.

A YouTube video by one of the primary architects of the Common Core, David Coleman, helps clarify some other misconceptions about the initiative and outlines the processes and the principles on which it was developed. Another, filmed in Hampton Roads, Va., lays out the problems the standards are meant to solve and provides an overview of their direction for math and literacy. Read Dana Goldstein's profile of Coleman's work for The Atlantic.

Recruiting Inspiring Teachers


A number of countries have television advertising campaigns designed to recruit inspiring future teachers. Check out these videos from overseas. They serve as tribute to the universal value of teachers.

from Singapore's teacher recruitment video

World Teacher Day: Take a Stand for Teachers!

Teachers around the world celebrated World Teacher Day on October 5th. They held rallies, discussed ways to strengthen teaching, and encouraged students to become teachers. For teacher and Teaching Ambassador Fellow Lisa Clarke, World Teacher Day serves as more than an opportunity to stand with teachers everywhere to celebrate teaching; it also serves as "inspiration to model 21st century skills for [her] students by connecting with teachers across different languages and beyond borders at the local and global level." Read Ms. Clarke's blog post and Secretary Arne Duncan's statement on World Teacher Day.


The New Math

20% = the average decline of state per-student funding for the nation's 101 major public research universities between 2002 and 2010 (in inflation-adjusted dollars).

* Reference: National Science Board.

Teachers' Notes

  • Changing Face of the Teaching Force. Education researchers Richard Ingersoll and Lisa Merrill (University of Pennsylvania) recently issued an interesting report about changes in the demographics of the teaching workforce. Despite some common assumptions, the teaching force is growing exponentially. It is also "graying and greening," becoming increasingly female, ethnically diverse, and destabilizing. The researchers also find that teachers' academic ability, while not growing appreciably, is not declining. Read their report, Seven Trends: The Transformation of the Teaching Force.
  • Rock the Vote? Affirming that civic participation contributes to healthy societies and benefits the individuals who participate, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University issued "That's Not Democracy: How Out-of-School Youth Engage in Civil Life." The report offers stark data that reveal the strong link between college attendance and civic engagement, showing that "the largest and most consistent gaps in civic engagement are related to formal educational experience." The data indicate that a majority of non-college youth who are eligible to vote, are too disengaged from civic life, with 35% "completely disconnected."
  • Math Class Gets a Makeover. In this TED video, math teacher Dan Meyer insists on patient problem solving and student formulation as the most effective way to engage students in conversing and learning about math.

Working on a dissertation in education?

Fulbright - Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Grants Awarded to PhD Candidates in Education

Have you thought about how the international arena might affect your dissertation? Under the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program (DDRA), research projects help the nation develop capabilities in areas of the world not generally included in U.S. curricula.

Recently, the Department of Education announced the award of the newest round of DDRA grants, totaling more than $3.2 million, to 34 institutions of higher education. At these institutions, 84 individual fellowships were awarded to doctoral students to conduct research in other countries, for periods of six to 12 months. Twelve of these fellowships related to the field of education. For more information and to see the grantee list of projects, go to the DDRA website.

Top 5 Educator Quotes

(Wisdom from educators heard by ED.)

5. "We've misinterpreted something. When we said that kids are going to be proficient, we didn't mean that kids don't read or write for enjoyment." (Buffalo, Wyo.)

4. "In education, there is no silver bullet. We need to do everything." (science teacher in Ill.)

3. "One of the advantages of learning another language is it helps you to think differently, to think in another culture." (social studies teacher in Va.)

2. "Assessment must serve learning, not the other way around." (math teacher in Va.)

1. "'Every school, every classroom, for every student every day.' That's our motto." (Alaska)

town hall meeting on bus tour

Feedback Needed: Civic Learning and Engagement Initiative

At a White House event this past January, the Obama Administration released its Road Map for civic learning, “Advancing Civic Learning and Engagement in Democracy,” which outlines nine steps that the U.S. Department of Education is undertaking to increase civic learning and engagement across our country. The Department is currently requesting feedback about how best to implement four of the steps and how to define “civic learning and engagement." Educators, practitioners, students, and researchers can submit suggestions and comments by November 30th via the civic learning email or post them directly on the blog.

Educator Blogs

More Education Blogs That We Like

  • Though not a teacher, Diette Courrégé is an education reporter for The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. She publishes a nifty Rural Education blog on EdWeek that deals with "the challenges and policies affecting rural education."
  • Tadiana Ross is an elementary Spanish teacher in Washington, D.C. whose Simply Spanish blog is simply engaging. Ross writes short pieces about everything from how to help your child become bilingual to how to use technology in an elementary Spanish class.