April 25, 2013  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

cropped image of cover of RESPECT Blueprint

To celebrate the release of the Blueprint for RESPECT, this edition of Teaching Matters is dedicated to showcasing the educators' work that has led to RESPECT and to the resources newly available to teachers. Many of these resources can also be found on a new educator homepage that includes information about the history of the RESPECT movement, connections to existing policy, research used to craft the vision, and two versions of the Blueprint (PDF and e-book formats).


RESPECT Blueprint Released

Today the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released the Obama Administration’s plan for elevating and transforming the teaching profession, also known as the Blueprint for RESPECT. RESPECT - an acronym for Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching - was launched as a national conversation on the teaching profession in February of 2012, shortly after the President committed to support the development of a new, comprehensive teacher policy in his State of the Union Address.

The Blueprint identifies ways that efforts to elevate and transform the teaching profession will be integrated into the Department’s existing policies and calls the field to take action to work towards the RESPECT vision. President Obama continues to ask for a $5 billion investment from Congress to support a RESPECT grant program, the outline of which is included in the RESPECT blueprint. In a Rose Garden ceremony recognizing National and State Teachers of the Year and National Principals of the Year, the President summarized the essence of the RESPECT vision: "Teaching is a profession, and it should be treated as one." Visit the RESPECT homepage. Join the RESPECT movement. Read the ED press release.

Teachers of the Year in the Rose Garden with President Obama and Secretary Duncan

President Obama speaks in the Rose Garden as Arne Duncan, National Teacher of the Year Jeff Charbonneau, and honored teachers and principals look on.


Honoring the Teachers and Principals of the Year

Teachers of the Year (TOYs) were celebrated in DC this week for their excellence in teaching. Included in their packed agenda were a series of celebratory events, including a recognition ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, a black-tie gala, and a discussion with senior leaders at the Department of Education. Each year, the Council of the Chief State School Officers recognizes one National Teacher of the Year, selected from the 54 TOYs from states, territories, and Department of Defense schools. About them, President Obama said, "Educators [on this platform] represent the very best of America." This year, the national honor went to Jeff Charbonneau, from Zillah High School, a school of 400 students in Washington State. Check out Jeff's CBS Morning News interview.

Also honored were Principals of the Year selected by NASSP (secondary school principals) and NAESP (elementary). In the Rose Garden, President Obama stressed the importance of having strong school leadership. "Unless they [principals] do their job," he said, "it's very difficult for even great teachers to do theirs." Read the ED blog.

teacher from RESPECT video


What RESPECT Means to Teachers

Recently teachers and principals shared with ED their views on transforming the profession. Watch the video to hear directly from the teachers (4:40 minutes).  

Quote to Note

What Teachers Really Do

"Teachers do more than just educate kids. They nurse them, they embrace them, they love them... I cannot think of something more important than reaching that child who came in [to class] uninspired."

(President Obama, in his remarks at the Teachers of the Year Ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday.)


Who Wrote the RESPECT Vision?

The Teaching Ambassador Fellows held 360 round table conversations reaching approximately 5700 educators. These conversations prompted 40+ drafts of a vision for teaching and leading that serves as the basis for the RESPECT initiative.

(Read the Blueprint for RESPECT as a PDF or on an e-reader.)

the New Math

RESPECT Teaching


Get RESPECT Updates

Sign up to get updates on the RESPECT Project and to be added to the mailing list for opportunities for educators to lead the transformation of their profession.


"We have to get out of the catch-up business and ...level the playing field." - Secretary Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan speaking on video

Early Learning: "The Best Investment We Can Make"

Teaching Ambassador Fellow Dan Brown sits down with Secretary Arne Duncan to discuss what prevents our country from having access to high-quality early learning opportunities (and what we can do about it). Watch the video (1:21). High school social studies teacher and Teaching Ambassador Fellow Marciano Gutierrez examines how early learning programs have helped students he taught later in their lives. Read his blog.


Did You Know?

Eight national organizations all signed onto the seven critical components that are at the core of the RESPECT vision. In fact, RESPECT was inspired in part by the emerging consensus from the field. The organizations include American Federation of Teachers, Association of School Administrators, Council of Chief State School Officers, Council of the Great City Schools, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, National Education Association, and National School Board Association. Read their agreement, Transforming the Teaching Profession. 

question mark

Teaching Ambassador Fellow Mike Humphreys


One Teacher's Involvement with RESPECT

Teaching Ambassador Fellow Mike Humphreys has been involved with the Blueprint for RESPECT practically since its inception. In 2011, he took part in a discussion with other National Board Certified Teachers in Virginia. At the time, he became so inspired by the conversation that he downloaded a RESPECT toolkit from ED and held his own discussion, reporting results back from the field. This year, as a Teaching Ambassador Fellow, he has held conversations not only in the area, but with teachers in other states. Read his perspective about the recent release of the Blueprint for RESPECTView a map of where the Teaching Fellows went.


How RESPECTful is your School or District?

With the launch of the Blueprint for RESPECT this week, ED has published a tool for teachers and leaders to  evaluate how their school (or district) is progressing in its transformation of teaching and leading into a well-respected profession through a new self-inventory tool. The tool also provides suggestions for improving components of RESPECT that educators may want to improve. Review other ideas about how to get involved in the RESPECT movement.

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes


RESPECT WEBPAGE. This is an educator's one-stop shopping for all things RESPECT, including a description of the seven components of RESPECT, the most recent blog posts and resources, as well as a map that shows where the Teaching Fellows went to facilitate a national conversation about the profession.

• TALK TO A TEACHER AT ED. Email Teach.Talk@ed.gov with questions or comments about the RESPECT work. Please put "RESPECT" in the title of your email correspondence.

• TRACING THE PATHWAYS. Read the history of the RESPECT discussions, including what educators talked about at each stage of the national conversation. Learn how teachers created the unified vision reflected in the Blueprint for RESPECT.

• VISION STATEMENT. Review the most recent version of the RESPECT Vision created by teachers.


Making the Case for RESPECT

To help educators generate support for transforming their profession, ED is offering a PowerPoint presentation called "Making the Case." Teachers and leaders may want to use the presentation to jump-start a conversation in their school or district. The content outlines challenges to the profession, gives an overview of the history of the RESPECT vision, and suggests some next steps. The presentation can easily be tailored for use at events ranging from school board or union meetings to general community events.

image from the PowerPoint presentation

open book

Recommended Reading

• Looking Good vs. Becoming Good. This commentary by 2007 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Justin Minkel - "When Teachers Cheat: Looking Good, Being Bad" - suggests that our NCLB-era fixation on testing has driven educators and administrators to strive for appearances rather than substantive improvement. He argues, "We can choose to be good and become better."

• Preschool for All. In this Washington Post Op-Ed, Arne Duncan argues that creating opportunities for students to access preschool is essential to improving not only our K-12 reform efforts, but also to securing long-term societal benefits such as public cost savings. Not only does universal preschool make logical sense, we also have a moral obligation to our children: "Children shouldn’t be denied equal educational opportunity at the starting line."

If you have comments or questions about Teaching Matters, please send an email to ED's Teacher Liaison: Laurie.Calvert@ed.gov

teacher discussing RESPECT

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard in recent RESPECT conversations

 5. "I’ve been in education for 49 years, and I’ve been more distressed about education this year than I have been over the course of my career. I need encouragement." (Teacher, Clarksdale, Miss.)

4. "I teach and I am leading the change at my school." (Elementary Teacher, Memphis, Tenn.)

3. "Education reform is really about collaboration with teacher voice being an essential component." (Teacher, N.H.)

2. “I feel re-energized. This [RESPECT] conversation makes me reconsider retirement.” (Teacher, Portland, Maine)

1. “We need to develop the capacity in our staff to take risks and create a culture where it is ok to fail.”(Principal, Dover, N.H.)