See What Happens When Michelle Obama Shows Up to Class Unannounced -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- March 10, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

March 10, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

ED Negotiators

ED Officials Hear from Educators in ESSA Listening Sessions, Negotiating

For the last several weeks, U.S. Department of Education officials have crisscrossed the country, collecting feedback from a range of stakeholders about the new Every Student Succeeds Act. Later this month, a committee of educators -- including the teachers and principals pictured at right, along with state officials, paraprofessionals, and others -- will gather at ED to hash out regulations on parts of the new Every Student Succeeds Act. The committee will advise ED in its effort to promote equity and excellence for all students by providing states and school districts with timely regulations so that they can plan ahead and support students and educators. For the full list of negotiators and their charge, see this Education Week summary.



Colorado teacher Mark Sass recaps for the Homeroom blog what he heard during a recent conversation with educators in his state and what his fellow Teaching and Principal Ambassador Fellows are hearing around the nation. Share your thoughts at a listening session near you or by emailing


Watch What Happens When Michelle Obama Shows Up to Class Unannounced

First Lady Michelle Obama stopped by two Washington D.C. elementary schools to surprise students as they cooked with some of the produce from their school gardens. Obama, who has pushed for healthy eating and fitness initiatives during her tenure, was greeted by a young boy who jumped from his seat and ran into her arms while others sat staring at her in disbelief (Stein, Washington Post).

What Seven Principals Wish They Knew on Day One

Seven experienced principals reflected on what they wish they knew going into their first day as a principal. Common themes included the importance of relationships and the value of great mentors. Says one Tennessee principal: "Principals operate in a fishbowl. Everybody sees everything you do. That's really hard to deal with in the beginning ... When you trip, everybody sees you fall. But more often than not, you don't trip" (

Some Schools are Testing Kids Social-Emotional Learning

In line with a requirement to assess more than just academic skills, some schools are adopting measures to assess skills like self-control and conscientiousness. Some say those are difficult skills to measure; others say they're important even if the measures are imperfect. Even the NAEP and PISA tests will start to measure students' social-emotional skills. Most of these tests will rely on students' self-reporting (ZernikeNYTimes). Take the grit test for yourself here.

In Touching Video, Teachers Tell Kids Why They're Special


Assistant Principal Ben Braden challenged the teachers at Barron Elementary School in Texas to choose a student and tell that students how much they mean to their teacher. See students' reactions and hear their teachers' beautiful words, including "When I come to work, I look forward to seeing you because of your genuine heart" and "You make me excited to get up every morning and come to school to teach you" ( 

Many Grads Believe They're Ready Academically, But Aren't

A report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement highlights a disconnect between students' perceptions of college readiness and their actual preparedness. Of some 50,000 students surveyed, 86 percent reported that they were academically prepared to succeed in college, yet 68 percent had to take remedial courses. The report shares ways in which colleges are thinking creatively about remediation and acceleration. 

Report Argues for How We Ought to Rethink Twelfth Grade

Millions of American teenagers stumble through senior year, barely completing required coursework or unable to make up enough ground to graduate. Many who do enter college are placed in remedial classes, some of which are too daunting or expensive to lead them to move onto credit-bearing classes or ever complete a degree. A new report from the nonprofit Jobs for the Future suggests the creation of a "transition zone" between high school and college to replace the traditional 12th grade experience and to get kids more ready for the future

In Genius Hours, Schools Ask Kids What They Want to Learn

Taking a page out of Google's playbook - where employees take advantage of the 20 percent rule and where they work on a project of their own design for about one day per week - some schools are asking students to pursue their own interests in the classroom as well. According to one New Jersey teacher, "In college people start asking you that question: 'What do you want to do with your life? What are you interested in? But oftentimes we fail to ask students that at a younger age." Students' interests vary during adolescence, and they become better problem solvers and show greater curiosity and independence as they grow older, according to teachers (

kids in technology

White House Wants Your STEM Ideas

Research shows that early exposure to STEM has positive impacts across the entire spectrum of learning, but our schools and early childhood programs often lack resources and capacity to focus on early STEM learning in developmentally appropriate ways. That’s why the President and this Administration want to identify best practices and technologies that support our youngest learners with early STEM education. Organizations involved in philanthropy, industry, advocacy and more that are focusing on this work at the local level are invited to submit their commitments to early STEM education and may be invited to participate in upcoming White House events.  

Why I'll Never Disparage Teacher Certification Exams Again

"When I’d mention to people that I was studying for the elementary certification tests, and that the math one in particular was pretty tough, I’d get a certain kind of look," says Peter Sipe as he reflects on hitting the books for the Massachusetts exam. He was humbled. He was motivated. But studying for it was the only way to meet the challenge (

Jimmy Kimmel Surprises Teachers with Free Trip to Hawaii


In an elaborate ruse, Jimmy Kimmel and Chevy bought the teachers of Whaley Middle School in Los Angeles, Calif. thousands of dollars worth of classroom supplies -- and sent them all on a free trip to Hawaii. That prompts the question: What will you do to support teachers, Jimmy Fallon?

Resources to Use

 What do school leaders do that leads to significantly improved student learning? Find out in this report how Illinois, the only state to be ranked in the top two for school leader development policy, is able to provide the systemic supports that ensure all new school leaders are learning what they need to improve student academic performance in all of their schools. 

Cross-sector Collaborations are Gaining Support. Learn more about public-private partnerships in education from a new report, Collective Impact and the New Generation of Cross-Sector Collaborations for Education: A Nationwide Scan. Read more in this EdWeek blog (Hinton). 

What We Heard from Educators This Week


5. "We don't do any summative work any more -- nothing's final, we just want to move them forward always" (Teacher, New Hampshire).
4. "A written exam in our world isn't enough. Before, you were studying for a test; now you're building up toward learning a skill" (CTE Teacher, New Hampshire).
3. "We don't pause and think about what we need in K-12 education. I have whiplash as a superintendent" (Superintendent, Connecticut).
2. "Hopefully ESSA will cause us to rethink how we talk to and about teachers" (Teacher, Colorado).
1. "We have to realize that assessment of a five-year-old is only about assessment of their parents" (Teacher, Colorado).