THE TEACHERS EDITION -- October 22, 2015

The Teachers Edition

October 22, 2015  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition. 


In This Issue

no gifted programs for aniya

There are no gifted programs available in four-year-old Anyia Hall's Brooklyn neighborhood, raising questions about whether these programs are distributed fairly.

Gifted Education

Questions Raised About Access to Gifted Programs

In New York City, officials say there aren't enough gifted and talented students in four of the 32 geographic districts to justify creating local programs for them. In Houston, a researcher believes the city's system for identifying gifted students suffers from a "clear case of segregation," wherein students of color are less likely to be identified for gifted programs than white and Asian students (Brody, and Isensee, NPR). 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education recently awarded $4 million to 11 states to take on exactly this issue: increasing the number of minority and other underrepresented students in gifted and talented programs. See if your state won a grant here or review NPR's three big questions about gifted children


rihanna and jimmy fallon

Principal Jimmy Fallon Takes On Morning Announcements

Actress Gabrielle Union joined late-night TV star Jimmy Fallon in parodying high-school morning announcements in a sketch that aired last week. The pair played school administrators who spice up the announcements with song: “You can’t use your Facebook at this school,cause we blocked it.” Union sang to the tune of The Weeknd's “Can’t Feel My Face.”  


Lots of Women in Classrooms, But Far Fewer at the Top

Former Newark, N.J., schools superintendent Cami Anderson cites statistics showing that while women make up about 75 percent of teachers, they number less than 40 percent of principals and 15 percent of CEOs or superintendents of school systems. "We are missing out on a lot of talent because the glass ceiling is alive and well even in education. As a female CEO, I believe you are likely to experience harsh criticisms for actions and attributes that would be lauded if you were a male CEO," she says. That's one of many of her takeaways from her turbulent tenure recently chronicled in author Dale Russakoff's book,The Prize.

funny late notes

Utah Dad's Tardiness Notes Go Viral

Salt Lake City, Utah, dad Seth King sometimes fails to get his five kids to school on time. When somebody oversleeps or takes too long getting dressed, the notes he sends are anything but orthodox: 13-year-old Carson lost track of time while rehearsing with the members of his boy band, while 15-year-old Isabella was staging a vegan-friendly sit-in at the grocery store to save frozen turkeys. See the rest of the notes on his Instagram account (

Expanding the Ranks

More Educators of Color

Teacher of Color image

Inspired by a meeting at ED about what works in developing outstanding educators of color, Jaime Aquino unravels the work of New Leaders and other organizations that aim to diversify the education workforce as they also seek to strengthen it (Education Post). 

P Chat

Principal Corner

Should school leaders chime in during lessons they're observing? See how leadership coach Kim Marshall answers this tricky question about whether teacher development is most effective in real time or after a lesson is over. 

What Turnaround Leaders Should Know. Leading a school turnaround is complex work, but research shows that there are specific competencies that school leaders need for successful turnaround efforts. Learn how to use these competencies to recruit, select, and provide ongoing support to school principals working in a turnaround context (Center on Great Teachers and Leaders).

School Leader Standards, All Over The Map. The National School Leadership Standards Map from the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders and the Wallace Foundation is an interactive online map to quickly locate information about school leadership standards in all 50 states. Leaders can explore how standards have been adopted, adapted, and used by states to support principals, as well as how these policies change over time.

walking school bus

Getting Your Exercise

Yield for Walking School Buses

Walking to school each morning allows kids time to exercise and socialize, but far fewer kids walk to school these days than they once did. Meet the Walking School Bus, an initiative in many cities that builds community while teaching kids road safety. See the video to watch how students in Denver, New Orleans, and Berkeley, Calif. got involved in celebrating International Walk to School Month (

Hour of Code

Bring Computer Science to Your School

The Hour of Code movement is aiming for tens of millions of students to try a one-hour introduction to computer science during the week of December 7, 2015There's no shortage of reasons why your class should get involved: just look at the stats on job opportunities for the tech-savvy and the current gap in computer-science course offerings for female and minority students. When you sign up, you can even request a software engineer to connect with your class: sign up now to get involved or watch a tutorial about how to host an event

Nkoli Onye 

Celebrating African American Educators

Editor's note: The following is part of a series reporting on excellent African American educators. Educators were selected by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Nkoli African American educator image

Nkoli Onye is a Chemistry teacher and high school principal in Providence, Rhode Island. She is also the recipient of the Professional Achievement Award by Oasis International. In addition, Onye is the Executive Director of Performance Management for Providence Schools. 

Why and how did you decide upon a career in education?

In my last year as an undergraduate medical technology student, I decided that I did not want to apply to medical school. I had had a child, and didn’t feel that I could be a good mother and a medical student. I applied for an emergency credential in chemistry and biology, and began teaching in a junior high school in South Central Los Angeles. It made me realize how much I loved working with young people. I have remained in education ever since.

 What is the one thing you most celebrate about your students?

I celebrate their diversity-diversity of race, culture, thought, and experience. ... I have tried to teach them to be tolerant of everyone, to open their minds and hearts, especially with those who are most different from them.

What do you want to see change within education to better support the learning and development of African American students?

I am particularly concerned about African American males. They are the group with the highest suspensions and attendance issues. They are most likely to be referred for Special Education and most likely drop out of high school and be incarcerated. I want to see a renewed focus to improve conditions for this group of young people. 

What He Has Learned

Takeaways from Four Decades of Education Reporting

John Merrow, the prominent PBS journalist who started as a teacher himself and went on to cover education's top stories over the past four decades, is retiring. Among his takeaways: "We have to get away from regurgitation" of facts in schools," he says. "If we repeatedly fill in bubbles, that is not much of a preparation for the future." Merrow memorably covered a year in the life of first-year teachers and Michelle Rhee's turbulent reign as chancellor in Washington D.C., where she fired a principal on his broadcast. Merrow says there has been lots of reform, but some hasn't had much impact. "We have the potential to transform education in this country. Whether we do it is an open question," he says. 

Recommended Reading

books on shelf image

Intersection of Gaming and Literature

Media scholar Dr. Henry Jenkins has called the video game the art form of the 21st century. Game-themed works of literature are not only culturally relevant but they can also engage students by centering on subject matter that speaks to them. Read high school English teacher Paul Darvasi's recommendations for novels where games feature prominently (Edutopia).

More School Choices, More Problems

Many school districts have adopted models that have a menu of school options for students - neighborhood schools, magnet schools, charter schools, and more. A new research study published by the American Psychological Association shows that students can wind up worse off with the more choices they have. Frequently changing schools can lead to behavioral challenges and achievement drops, according to the study's authors (

connect ed month image

October is Connected Educator Month (CEM)! originally developed by the U.S. Department of Education and its partners as part of the Connected Educators initiative. CEM offers highly distributed, diverse, and engaging activities to educators at all levels. Learn more

You can also check out The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders' upcoming event: Periscope Event: “Recruit, Select, and Support: School Leader Turnaround Competencies” today at 2 p.m. ET. 

Powerful Ideas

Two Education 'Geniuses' Heralded

Two untraditional education leaders were awarded fellowships, commonly referred to as Genius Grants, from the MacArthur Foundation recently. The prize includes $625,000 and a whole lot of attention to their creative ideas. Read more about Patrick Awuah, who founded a university in Ghana emphasizing critical thinking and problem solving instead of the rote learning that has been the focus there for a long time, and Juan Salgado, who created an educational program designed to help Chicago immigrants develop the skills needed to attain higher-paying jobs (MacArthur Foundation).

Cooking Up Controversy

Popular Fundraisers Under Fire


For years, McDonald's has offered schools the opportunity to allow its teachers behind the counter to cook up hamburgers and fries as part of their McTeacher's Night fundraisers. At the end of the night, the school gets a cut of the profits. But groups of parents and unions are joining forces to bring the fundraisers to an end, calling them an unnecessary opportunity for brand marketing to creep into the school (Aubrey, NPR). 

Resources for Educators

Arts Integration for English Learners with Special Needs  

See the power of arts integration by going inside Lindsay Young’s high school English Language Development class (Verdugo Hills Senior High, Tujunga, Calif.) for students with mild to moderate disabilities. In this engaging video, Ms. Young scaffolds key reading skills by having her students look closely at artwork, make inferences, and use evidence to support their reasoning. After practicing using these skills with artwork, students are able to apply these same skills when working with texts (Teaching Channel).

Social and Emotional Competence 

The 2015 CASEL Guide: Effective Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs—Middle and High School Edition is a user-friendly review that rates well-designed, evidence-based social and emotional learning programs used in middle and high schools. Nine programs took top honors, earning a spot on the Guide's "SELect" list. 

Teaching Black Lives Matter

A new textbook is being released next month covering the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The book is stirring both curiosity and controversy, according to American Radio Works. Listen to an interview and decide if you want to order one (Pekow, American RadioWorks).

Teachers Notes

sticky notepad

• Cultivating Character Grant. Character Lab is calling for teachers’ best ideas for helping students build character strengths like resilience, curiosity, bravery, creativity, and leadership. Teachers may apply for the $10k grant for ideas on how to cultivate character skills in the classroom. First round applications are due November 2, 2015. 

• Learning Mandarin. Last month, President Obama unveiled the 1 Million Strong initiative, which aims to increase the number of U.S. children learning Mandarin in school from 200,000 to 1 million by 2020. Meet the woman he charged to make sure it happens (KleinHuffington Post). 

Tools for Students

Students' Corner

Visualize Your Water Challenge. Students in states around the Great Lakes Basin and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed are encouraged to bring attention to their local water quality. This challenge will equip your students with new technology skills and broaden their understanding of their environment. The Grand Prize winner will have an opportunity to attend the 2016 Esri Education Conference in San Diego, Calif., and will be published in Esri’s Mapping the Nation book.

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Top 5 Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. "When we feel safe, we are unstoppable.'” (Teacher, Iowa)

4. "Kids don't get to be kids twice." (Teacher, South Carolina)

3. "When I see a student having trouble, I don't look at him and say, 'I'm going to suspend him.' I say, 'How can we help him?'" (Principal, Missouri)

2. "Teachers are in the classroom. They know best. They build the curriculum." (Administrator, Iowa)

1. "You don't solve anything top-down. You do it collaboratively." (Principal, Nebraska)