How to End the School Year Right -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- May 12, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

May 12, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

Diversity Report

ED Calls for Increased Teacher Diversity

Although students of color are expected to make up 56 percent of the student population in the year 2024, the teaching force remains predominantly white. A more diverse teaching force isn't just good for minority students; it's good for white students too, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education, released at a national summit on teacher diversity held last week. The National Summit on Teacher Diversity, held with the support of 15 organizations including Teach for America, the American Federation of Teachers, the Albert Shanker Institute, and the National Education Association, invited 200 people working on teacher hiring and retention to hear recent research and teachers’ and students’ perspectives on diversity. They also identified concrete next steps they could take to attract and retain more teachers of color in classrooms and to remove barriers for minority college students to enter the profession. 



Read here about two teachers from Mastery Charter School in Philadelphia, Sterling Grimes (left) and Robert Parker, who recently attended a Teach to Lead Summit as part of their work with the Black Male Educator Convening’s Fellowship” to change the narrative and support more Black men in educating the next generation. “Now, when people learn that we are Black male educators in Philadelphia, the looks of admiration we receive could rival those offered the President. Research shows that all kids can benefit from Black men leading classrooms, yet Black male educators are still a novelty instead of the norm. At a recent Teach to Lead Summit, we were surprised by the overwhelming support for our work. It’s one thing to hear teachers from urban districts say we need more Black male teachers, but we were surprised to hear white female teachers from predominately white rural and suburban districts acknowledge the need for Black male teachers as well. As one white female teacher told us, having more Black male teachers could benefit all kids, and we agree: having a more diverse teaching force could help us all to start chipping away at the unconscious racial biases unwittingly conveyed to students…When we returned from the summit, we spoke to the most important stakeholders -- our students -- about our work to increase the number of Black male teachers. When we asked them why there was a need for Black male teachers, they were enthusiastic in their support, saying, “they would provide better examples for us young Black kids” and “they would understand us better.” Hearing these comments from my students, along with the affirmations we received from other teachers at Teach to Lead, shows the need for a more diverse teaching force and cements for us that our work with The Fellowship is on the right track.” Learn more about the Fellowship on Facebook and on Twitter @BMECFellowship.

How to End the School Year Right

Elementary school teacher Justin Minkel offers some tips for how to end the school year right in a first-person piece in Education Week. Among his ideas: "Inject everything that school should contain all year--time outside, creativity, color, noisy raucous fun--into these last four weeks. This is your chance: Teach like no one is watching." 


Obama Pays Visit to 8-Year-Old Letter Writer

Eight-year-old Mari Copeny wrote to President Obama, asking for a meeting so she could share her concerns about the Flint, Mich., water crisis. He wrote back and said he was on his way. Mari says the worst part about the situation is not being able to take a bath or make Kool-Aid. In his speech, Obama said: "I would have been happy to see Mari in Washington. But when something like this happens, a young girl shouldn't have to go to Washington to be heard. I thought her President should come to Flint to meet with her" (Itkowitz, Washington Post).

Teacher Week is Over, But Appreciation Theme Continues

Secretary King Makes Appearances in Pop Culture

Secretary of Education John King got personal with Us Weekly last week, discussing how he's still got student loans, his love for ice cream cake, and his internship at the U.S. Department of Education when he was just 22. As a former fantasy football league winner and coach of his daughter's softball team, it turns out he has more in common with us than just the time he spent in the classroom as a teacher. King also made an appearance on the first episode of Netflix's "Chelsea" to give host Chelsea Handler a pop quiz (Nededog, BusinessInsider). 

Rethinking the Role of the Principal-Supervisor

Breaking with the conventional means of supervising the school leader, some districts are remaking the role of the principal-supervisor so they are able to better support principals and help improve instruction in classrooms. A new article and video show off two districts, Tulsa and Washington, D.C., that have rethought the supervisor's job, in part by giving supervisors fewer schools to oversee (Saltzman, Wallace Foundation). 

'Jeopardy!' Winner Gives Shoutout to Fellow Librarians


Wilmington, N.C., librarian Margaret Miles went viral last month for sharing on Jeopardy! the fact that she is a "hopelessly stereotypical" cat-loving knitter. She took home more than $40,000 in winnings and gave a shoutout to librarians around the country: "Librarians are who we are because we love both answers and questions; it's a pleasure to share what we know, and even more fun to get the chance to learn something new while finding an answer to someone's question" (Sieczkowski, Huffington Post). While we're talking about librarians, check out Judy Moody author Megan McDonald's reflection on how libraries saved her life. And tune into Jeopardy! teacher week this week to answer the question: Are you smarter than a fifth grade teacher? 

White House report

White House Highlights Education Gains

President Obama credited teachers for America's higher graduation rates, higher standards, and better early education in the forward to the newly released White House report detailing the administration's achievements in K-12 education.  "At the center of all this progress are the teachers we celebrate year-round...Like those who made a difference in my life, our students’ teachers are the ones who help them discover, dream, believe in themselves, and realize the potential our nation promises," he said.

A Way to Bring Arts Back to Class

A California non-profit group, Art in Action, is helping schools there and in 18 other states restore art to classrooms. For each class that uses the program, schools pay a $200 licensing fee, about $10 per student per year, and the organization subsidizes the poorest schools. While not a replacement for art teachers, they help where there are no art classes at all by using an online curriculum and a network of thousands of parent volunteers to teach art in their children's schools (Baron, Education Week). 

Ed Camps

EdCamps: PD by Teachers for Teachers

At these professional development sessions, there aren't any paid consultants or researchers doing the presenting. Instead, at EdCamps, the experts are the teachers themselves, writes Richard Lee Colvin, now a managing writer at ED. These infectious, teacher-driven gatherings are low-budget affairs and the subjects of each workshop are determined by those taking part. More than 1,000 EdCamps have taken place since 2010 -- so many that there's bound to be one happening near you sometime soon (

What We Heard from Educators This Week

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5. "Before you start your end-of-the-year countdown, remember that for some students, this means the end of hot lunch, snacks, social interaction, and a safe place" (Teacher, Connecticut).
4. "If school is preparing kids for life, shouldn't school reflect real life?" (Teacher, New York)
3. "You never forget the teacher who made an impact on your life" (Principal, Texas).
2. "Educators are in the life-changing business. As educators, we can never forget this" (Administrator, Missouri).
1. "Be wary of non-teachers who sell magic edu-bullets. Nothing can replace relationships, content knowledge, and good pedagogy" (Teacher, New York).