Mom Gets a Hard Reminder from Her Son -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- September 15, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

September 15, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

2,000 miles, 11 cities and 8 Years of Progress

2016 bus tour photos

Secretary King and senior officials got on the bus and went back to school this week. On the "Opportunity Across America" bus tour, they reached out to our primary audiences: teachers, students and parents. The bus tour visited exemplary PK-12 schools and institutions of higher education and celebrated local ideas and initiatives that support all students in Washington, D.C.; Charlottesville (Va.); Bristol, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis (Tenn.); Harvest (Ala.); Little Rock (Ark.); Indianola (Miss.); and Monroe, Baton Rouge and New Orleans (La.).  In Tennessee, King announced new resources and a website to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teacher leadership. The tour also highlighted the ConnectED initiative, since it has made tremendous progress in providing our students and teachers with the tools they need to succeed in the digital age. To learn more, check out the tour's website, learn more about John's travels and see the photos, and follow the tour on social media at #OpportunityTour.


Dr. Pamela Harman, the 2008 Alabama Teacher of the Year, teaches science in the state's Hoover City School system. Her Homeroom blog reflects on hopes for the new school year. As her teaching methods have changed over her 20 year career, she has learned more about instructional practices and deepened her content knowledge, and she has also learned to help students recognize their own potential. 

Pam Harman teacher


Do You Have the Strength to Teach?

In HelpReaders’s YouTube video, Spartan school leaders question if 300 prospective teachers have what it takes to enter the battleground of education. What does it take to be an elementary school teacher? The Spartan principal can tell you, and you can decide if you have what it takes to make it in the education arena. 


Ordinary People Making A Difference 

Upstanders is an original collection of short stories, films and podcasts that highlight the experiences of “ordinary people making an extraordinary difference.” Starbucks is behind the series, and some of the stories are truly inspirational – like Scholarships for Every Student , a story about  an impoverished Michigan town that worked to raise funds from all its citizens, so that students could go to college; or the one about high school senior Destiny Watford who teamed up with a half dozen fellow students at Benjamin Franklin High School (Baltimore, Md.) and took on corporations and the government in order to block the building of an incinerator that would have further polluted their neighborhood. Teachers who know a deserving person can nominate an Upstander, too. 

Invigorating "Bell Work" for Student Engagement

What do “fantasy interview,” “just ten words” and “reinventing gum” have in common? They are just three of the innovative ideas to start class in an engaging way, known as "bell work" offered by Dr. Lori Desautels of the College of Education at Butler University. Such inventive activities “engage students’ working memory and set the tone for positive, productive learning,” according to Desautels. (Desautels, Edutopia). 

Discovering the Twin Towers

Twin Towers image

Students born after 2001 don’t know much about 9/11 – and so far most schools aren’t tackling the subject. But that might be changing. A new young adult novel called Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes is being read at Greenfield Middle School (Greenfield, Mass.) by students, teachers and administrators, and the demand for age-appropriate teaching curricula and professional development resources has increased, according to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (Westervelt, NPR).

Different Zip Codes, Different Schools

One in four public schools in America is high-poverty, twice the rate of 20 years ago. AP authors Sara Burnett and Larry Fenn look at the extreme differences in school funding and educational outcomes between wealthy and poor communities, part of Divided America, AP's ongoing exploration of the economic, social and political divisions in American society.


One Mom Gets a Hard Reminder from Her Son

Veteran teacher and mother, Sarah Slivosky, shares her perspective on her son's feeling of being invisible in class. He’s not a trouble-maker, he isn’t struggling to learn the material, and he’s not disrupting the class because of boredom. He’s a great kid that flies under the radar, not being noticed by peers or teachers. But as he shares with his mother, this is not what he wants. He has the courage to ask his mother, are you ignoring students in your class, too? (Washington Post).

Keeping Content and Lessons Fresh Over the Years


Veteran teachers may not struggle with classroom management or the copier anymore, but making sure their lessons stay fresh may be challenging. English teacher David B. Cohen of Palo Alto, Calif., shares his approach to the tried-and-true To Kill a Mockingbird after teaching it nearly twenty times: “Dealing with rich material, staying curious about it, and adding relevant new learning all help to keep the experience fresh, even over the course of twenty years,” he says (Cohen, EdWeek).

Children Witnessing Domestic Abuse Affect the Entire Classroom

Domestic abuse does not only affect the adults involved. NPR reports that research shows the distracted and aggressive behaviors of children that witness abuse have long-term effects on the other children in the classroom. Parents that find the strength to leave or make safe places for their children combat the effects on all students. 

Domestic Abuse

sad boy

Identifying Mental Health Problems Early Could Help Kids – and Schools

Some experts believe we can catch the first signs of mental health issues as early as six months, and many say waiting until kindergarten is too late. "I don't want to wait until a child has missed five days of school because his anxiety is so bad that he can't get on the school bus,” says Rahil Briggs, a child psychologist who works at a health care center in the South Bronx. Addressing the problems early will help our schools handle the problems they encounter (Cardoza, NPR). 

Resources to Use

  • Turn Your Lights On for Afterschool.  On October 20, one million Americans will come together at 8,000 events to celebrate the 17th annual Lights On Afterschool-the nation's only celebration of afterschool programs and their role in keeping kids safe, inspiring kids to learn and helping working families. Registration is open
  • New Ideas for Class Discussions. Lesson planning can be hard and after a few weeks or years of teaching, teachers may be looking for more ways to engage student discussion. Let Cult of Pedagogy help with several ideas for discussion strategies.
  • Solving Teacher Shortages. This week, the Learning Policy Institute released a comprehensive analysis of teacher supply, demand and growing shortages in the U.S. -- Solving Teacher Shortages: Attracting and Retaining a Talented and Diverse Teaching Force. It includes a 50-state interactive map that provides numeric ratings on the conditions in each state that influence the supply of teachers. The impact of the teacher shortage on students will be schools having to cancel courses, increase class sizes and and teacher pupil ratios, or hire underprepared teachers (Heim, Washington Post).  

What We Heard from Educators This Week

This week, Teachers Edition asked educators new to their positions about their hopes for their new school year and career:

john at bus tour

5. "My hopes for this first year are to lay the ground work for mutual respect and trust, where teachers can feel comfortable challenging me, challenging each other, and taking risks." First-year principal, Massachusetts.

4. "My goal for my first year of teaching is to develop skills to improve classroom management, incorporate meaningful technology and learn as much as I can from my colleagues and students." First-year teacher, Delaware.

3. "My hope is to use my experiences, skills, and talents to support teacher leadership in schools so that we can ensure high levels of learning for all." First-year principal, Michigan.

2. "I hope my kids are smiling as much on the last day of school as they did on the first--which was a lot!" First-year teacher, Montana.

1. "I am most looking forward to leaving my mark in the hearts of America’s future." First-year teacher, Texas.