The Case for Eliminating Summer Breaks -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- May 19, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

May 19, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

Schools Act on Mandate to Support Transgender Students


A week after the release of guidance and a compilation of examples of how schools are supporting transgender students, schools have stepped up to the plate to ensure they are meeting the civil rights of this population of students. Secretary of Education John King has said, "We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment, and violence" (Davis and Apuzzo, New York Times). 

Advice from the 2016 Teachers of the Year

U.S. News & World Report interviewed the four finalists for the 2016 National Teacher of the Year award and they've got some good tips for the rest of us. Among them:

  • Learn from your students, just like they learn from you.
  • Get involved in education policy because "there are a lot of people who talk about education who don't actually know education like we do." 
  • Have fun while lesson planning and teaching, and students will have fun -- and learn more -- too.

Four Teachers Win $25,000 Awards for Classroom Excellence

Fishman prize winners

Four teachers were surprised this week with the 2016 Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, a $25,000 award recognizing the nation’s most effective teachers working in high-need public schools. These teachers are:

· Erica Stewart, 4th Grade Math teacher at KIPP Excelencia Community Prep, Redwood City, Calif.

· Evelyn Rebollar, High School English teacher at Bronx Arena High School in the Bronx, N.Y.

· Heather Howle, 8th Grade STEM teacher at West Feliciana Middle School, St. Francisville, La.

· Matthew Patterson, 12th Grade English teacher at Benjamin Banneker High School in College Park, Ga.

The Case for Eliminating Summer Breaks

More districts are shifting to year-round school models -- drawing from research that shows that all students benefit from shorter breaks during the year as opposed to a long one during the summer. Schools in more than 30 states have made the switch, and districts that have done it say building relationships, bracing for resistance, and using strong communication skills are keys to making the transition (Ryan, District Administration).  

King Calls Attention to 'Invisible Tax' on Educators of Color

In an opinion published in The Washington Post, Secretary John King weighed in with a potential reason why teachers of color leave the profession more quickly than white teachers: what he described as an "invisible tax." According to some African American male teachers, he writes, that tax manifests itself in the assumption that they'll take on roles as school disciplinarians or that they're experts on any question of cultural diversity. Says Sharif El-Mekki, principal of the Mastery Charter School's Shoemaker campus in Philadelphia and a 2014 Principal Ambassador Fellow: "They feel honored and appreciated that they are asked, but when so many different people are asking them for help, it becomes a burden." 

Mispronouncing Students' Names Takes a Toll


A powerful campaign to ensure attention is paid to the proper pronunciation of students' names is drawing focus on feelings of invisibility faced largely by students from minority backgrounds. The campaign asks teachers to take a pledge promising to learn the proper pronunciation of students' names and to recognize students for who they are. Says former ELL teacher and now Santa Clara County Superintendent Jon Gundry: "As a teacher, I felt that if I didn't make an effort to pronounce their name correctly, it showed I didn't care about who they were" (Mitchell, Education Week). 

Future for Career and Technical Education Imagined

The field of career and technical education has had to reinvent itself before with the changing needs of the modern economy. A group of top education organizations came together recently to create a new vision -- one that is learner-centric and supported by education, workforce and economic development, and business and industry partners. The full report includes principles and action steps, including providing all learners with authentic, real-world experiences linked to careers of interest and aligning secondary and postsecondary programs.

Princeton Professor Publishes Resume of Failures

Reading over someone's resume can make you feel inferior. That's why Princeton University Prof. Johannes Haushofer published his "CV of failures," featuring degree programs that rejected him, research funding he didn't get, and academic journals that rejected his writing. "Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible," he says, to help others understand how failure is a part of learning (Swanson, Washington Post).

Common Ground for Unions and Charter School Supporters

Charter school supporters and teachers union members have more in common than either side usually realizes, writes Greg Richmond, president and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, in an EducationPost blog entry. He writes: "We agree more often than we disagree. We must start working together to ensure that all public schools are serving schoolchildren well."

reach higher

White House Names Five Top Apps for Helping Kids Choose Careers

First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Initiative and ED announced five finalists in the Reach Higher Career App Challenge, a prize competition to promote the development of mobile app solutions that will help students navigate education and career pathways, including career and technical education.  

Access to High-Quality Preschool Remains Uneven

Despite some promising developments in expanding access to high-quality, state-supported preschool in 46 states, that access remains uneven across the country. Thousands of children, particularly those from low- and middle-income families in communities, still do not have preschools to attend, and three large states with high minority populations -- California, Florida, and Texas -- have among the weakest quality standards for their preschools. See how your state stacks up

Resources to Use

  • Access Data, Make Comparisons Among Countries. NCES has released a new Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) International Data Explorer, an online, interactive tool that allows users to explore international study data and create customized tables, charts, maps and analyses. Users can explore results from TALIS, an international study of teachers, teaching, and learning environments.  

What We Heard from Educators This Week


5. "Leaders don't need their voices first, last, and always. Sometimes they talk less to learn more" (Teacher, New Jersey).
4. "Try very hard not to know things in your classroom. And then try just as hard to model how to find out" (Teacher, Colorado).
3. "Allowing teachers and students to take risks in their classrooms and schools is critical to success" (Teacher, Nevada).
2. "We can't say, 'Be vulnerable! Take risks!" and then turn around and evaluate them with a holistic letter grade or standardized test" (Teacher, New Hampshire).
1. "Those who can't, definitely shouldn't teach" (Teacher, Oklahoma).