Kid President Is Back With Big News -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- March 24, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

March 24, 2016, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

Tea for Teachers at ED

Teachers Visit ED to Discuss Building Safe Spaces at Schools

Teachers from around the country visited ED last week to discuss their experiences making their schools safe from discrimination based on race, religion, or national origin. ED recently issued guidance around how schools can create safe learning environments in which all students are respected and able to participate. Check out some of the resources that ED has provided to ensure your school feels safe for all students.

Ferial Pearson


Ferial Pearson, who spent a decade teaching English at Omaha South High School in Nebraska and now teaches preservice teachers at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, reflects on her an innovative class project, The Secret Kindness Agents, that took off in her class. They took oaths, adopted secret agent names, and performed random acts of kindness that not only changed the culture of the school, but changed her students as well. This week she was honored with a 2016 Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award

Mississippi Might Grade Parents on Their Involvement

In an effort to increase parental involvement in schools, a proposal has passed the Mississippi House that would grade parents -- unsatisfactory, needs improvement, or satisfactory -- on their involvement in their children's education. The bill came out of research and school visits conducted by legislators who realized how evident parent involvement is in high-performing schools (Mannie, Hechinger Report). 

Kid President Calls on Grown-Ups, Kids to Improve World

kid president

"All kids are powerful," declares Kid President in a new video released last week. In this video, he declares this year "The Year of the Kid." During an election year, now is the time to "make every conversation about the next generation ... and the next generation." He asks viewers of all ages: "How will you make the world more awesome for kids?"

Poll: Only Half of Students Are Hopeful, Engaged in School

A Gallup Student Poll released last week shows that only half of American students are "hopeful" or "engaged" in school, while the rest are either not engaged or actively disengaged. Evidence suggests that hope is a stronger predictor of academic success, including graduation from college, than ACT and SAT scores and high school GPA (Abdul-Alim, Diverse Issues in Higher Education).

In Mass., Test Scores Don't Drive Teacher Evaluation System

Some predict that Massachusetts' teacher evaluation system will be a model for other states as they look to redraft systems in ways that take into account a wider picture. Teachers perform self-assessments and identify the measures they want to use to assess student growth. Meanwhile, a wide-ranging group of practitioners convened by the Aspen Institute published 10 recommendations for improving teacher evaluation systems, including telling stories that go beyond performance ratings and supporting locally developed measures (Camera, U.S. News & World Report)

FLOTUS Pushes Expanding Global Girls' Access to Education

michelle obama

"These girls deserve the same kind of chances we all had to learn and grow and contribute to their families and societies," First Lady Michelle Obama reflects as she launches the next phase of her social-media campaign to get people engaged in this issue. At South by Southwest in Austin, she recalled that many people told her what she couldn't do and how she persevered in spite of those doubters. Girl Rising is bringing together the #62MillionGirls community to as the central place for organizing further action. You can pledge to take action to help girls worldwide go to school (Photo: Lemay, Lenny). 

brave girl

Teaching Girls to Face their Fears

Why do we teach girls that it's cute to be scared? asks Caroline Paul, one of San Francisco's first female firefighters and author of the forthcoming book “The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure.” She cites a 2015 study in The Journal of Pediatric Psychology, finding parents are four times more likely to tell girls to be careful than boys because of an unconscious belief that females are more fragile than males. She advises parents and educators to use common sense and carefully supervise potentially dangerous activities. “But risk-taking is important,” she concludes (Marshall Memo 628 and NY Times).

If March Madness Was About Academics, Who Would Win?

There were lots of upsets in the first rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, but if the tournament focused on academics instead of athletics, it would be a whole different story. Inside Higher Ed compares the classroom performance of various teams and determines who'd win the title. Who would win it all? Well, put it this way: only two top-seeded teams would make it into the second round

National Writing Project Found to Benefit Teachers, Students

A two-year study on the National Writing Project, a professional-development program with nearly 200 sites around the country, shows that the program has a positive impact on both teachers' instructional practice and student writing. The study looked at the College-Ready Writers Program, which aims to improve students' ability to write arguments based on what they've read (Heitin, Education Week). 

Districts Make Headway in Helping At-Risk Students

Pomona, Calif. made progress when the school district partnered up with community organizations and nearby colleges. In Jennings, Mo., parents can use on-site washers and dryers in exchange for an hour of volunteer work doing things like monitoring the cafeteria. Minneapolis started an Office of Black Male Student Achievement, which is changing students' opinions of themselves and their identities. These examples, highlighted in District Administration Magazine, are showing how districts are meeting the needs of their most at-risk kids

american flags

What Do You Know About Freedom?

The Newseum launched a new educational resource that uses the events of Sept. 11, 2001, to help teachers and students study the balance between First Amendment rights and concerns for diversity, safety and the public good. The project "Freedom in the Balance" operates through NewseumED website. Twenty-two case studies explore how this debate has evolved from friction among Founding Fathers to cybersecurity standoffs.


Arne Duncan Begins Next Act

Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced he was moving back to Chicago, but until now, it wasn't clear what he would be doing there. Duncan will work with the philanthropic Emerson Collective to create job opportunities for 17- to 24-year-olds who are neither working nor in school. According to a recent report, 47 percent of 20- to 24-year-old black men in Chicago are out of school and out of work, compared with 20 percent of Latino men and 10 percent of white men in the same age bracket (Elejalde-Ruiz, Chicago Tribune). 

Resources to Use

 A new digital STEM publication, Connected Science Learning, produced by the National Science Teachers Association and the Association of Science-Technology Centers will highlight effective programs that educators can use to enhance STEM learning. The first two issues will be free; the first focused on “Successful In-School and Out-of-School Science Education Collaborations,” and the second will focus on professional development (Hart, The Journal).

The Wallace Foundation is launching a five-year, $47 million initiative to help universities improve how they prepare future principals, especially for the nation's highest-need schools, as new studies point to a concern that many programs are falling short of school district needs and expectations. The University Preparation Program Initiative will fund redesign of up to six university programs.

Childhood Risk and Substance Abuse Prevention is an online guide about interventions in early childhood that can help prevent drug use and other unhealthy behaviors, launched by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.    

What We Heard from Educators This Week

TL event with John

5. "Every teacher, no matter where they are on the career continuum, is a teacher leader" (Teacher, Connecticut).

4. "When I'm told to bring my A game, I wonder if that means they sometimes bring their B, C, D game? I always give it my best self" (Teacher, South Carolina).

3. "If we expect kids to collaborate in lifelong learning process, teachers must model it" (Teacher, Georgia). 

2. "Asking for five minutes at lunch to collect my thoughts isn't petty, it's asking for basic professionalism" (Teacher, South Carolina).

1. "Sometimes too many initiatives are thrown at us at once and it ends up trivializing the importance of each" (Teacher, Connecticut).