The Good Ones Make Everyone Better -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- September 29, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

September 29, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

This week, the Department released new non-regulatory guidance for Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Title II, Part A, which encourages states and districts to prepare, train and recruit high-quality teachers and principals to increase student academic achievement. Mentor programs, teacher leadership opportunities, and leveraging teacher expertise in professional learning are some of the many ways the funds may be used. Secretary King held virtual round tables with teachers across the nation and was interviewed by OZY national politics reporter Nick Fouriezos to discuss the specifics of the guidance.

Megan Meyers first year teacher


First year math teacher Megan Meyers finally has her own classroom. But without the help of her mentor at Woodward Middle School in the Bainbridge Island (Wash.) School District she would lack some of the content knowledge and confidence she needs to be an effective novice teacher. See her reflection in her Homeroom blog.

paper tiger

Victim to Valedictorian: Overcoming Trauma

Teachers at Lincoln High School (Walla Walla, Wash.) received training in how to interact with children who have suffered trauma from unstable home lives “that can place their brains and bodies in a state of high alert.” Lincoln is one of the first high schools in the country to teach through the “trauma-informed” education practice. It is the subject of the documentary Paper Tigers. Since then “the school saw a fivefold increase in graduation rates, a threefold increase in students headed to college, 75 percent fewer fights, and 90 percent fewer suspensions.” It has also served as the basis of a non-profit Turnaround for Children to help schools understand the impact of adversity on learning (Redford, Pritzker, The Atlantic).

First Lady promotes girls ed

Let Girls Learn Takes Center Stage

First Lady Michelle Obama held an event on Broadway last week to raise awareness for her "Let Girls Learn" initiative. Joined by emcee Stephen Colbert and other Broadway stars, in front of spouses of global heads of state who were in town for the U.N. General Assembly, she asked them to use their influence and power to ensure girls worldwide get an education. Keynote speakers were young women who had overcome obstacles in their countries to get an education (Terry, Hello Giggles).  

Celebrate World Teachers' Day 2016

Celebrate World Teachers’ Day on Wednesday, October 5 and follow along on Twitter using the #WorldTeachersDay. The theme this year is “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status” and is the first World Teachers’ Day to be celebrated with the new Global Education 2030 Agenda. Learn more about what UNESCO says about the  important role teachers play in providing a quality education and promoting a lifelong love of learning and the global education goals in the 2030 agenda. 

minecraft art small

Mining in the Classroom

Love Minecraft? Soon you’ll be able to use it even more easily in your classroom. The new Minecraft Education Edition will be released November 1 and includes feedback from upwards of 35,000 students and educators to help improve the platform for classroom use. This popular game has broad classroom applications -- from student-created historical and literary scenarios to systems thinking and engineering (Etherington, TechCrunch).

Matt Presser, former TAF

International Literacy Award Goes to One of Our Own

This year's International Literacy Association's 30 Under 30 list not only includes 30 of the most innovative literacy promoters that can be found anywhere in the world, but also includes 2015-16 Teaching Ambassador Fellow and former Teachers Edition editor Matt Presser. Now enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s educational leadership program, Presser has taught reading across all grade levels from elementary to high school. Most recently, he was the only male reading specialist at any of the 32 city elementary and middle schools in New Haven. Read more about Matt and the other amazing 30 Under 30s

Nourishing and Sustaining Innovation 

School leaders hoping to inspire change in their buildings would do well to heed some advice: build a strong foundation of support, be patient, and develop a plan. This guidance from Ron Williamson, professor at Eastern Michigan University, and Barbara Blackburn, educational author, provides leaders with a thoughtful and thorough process for changing the culture of a school, right from the beginning of the year (Williamson and Blackburn, MiddleWeb). 

music digital art

Digital Music Instruction

Digital music instruction music teachers know the limitations of traditional instruction: equipment and materials are expensive, differentiation is tricky and students with disabilities often find playing instruments challenging. But Taylor Haun (Lake Travis STEM Academy, Austin, Texas) describes a new way for students to make music: through digital technology. The digital and online characteristics of special music applications like Soundtrap allow teachers to customize instruction and invite students to collaborate and share their creations. Haun says “Students [get] great confidence boosts because of the music they create and share” (Haun, EdSurge).     

combined effort

The Good Ones Make Everyone Better

The most effective teachers on a team can influence their peers to improve their practice and benefit students, a recent study found. University of Washington professor Min Sun said that student learning is not based on just one teacher’s efforts, but “the combined effort of many teachers.” This positive spillover effect not only influenced students’ test scores, but increased the likelihood that they would go to college (Will, EdWeek). 

next gen image

Next Gen High Schools 

The White House held the second summit on Next Generation High Schools and committed new federal resources to advance them. These include: a resource that focuses on six evidence-based strategies to improve critical student outcomes, such as high school completion and readiness for college and careers; a progress report detailing key metrics of success from the commitments made at the first summit; the first of 13 issue briefs, “Early Warning Systems,” to provide descriptive information on the prevalence and characteristics of strategies designed to help at-risk students graduate from high school; and a resource that focuses on six evidence-based strategies to improve critical student outcomes, such as high school completion and readiness for college and careers.

what works clearinghouse website

Easier Way to Find What Works 

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) -- the independent research and statistics arm of the Department -- launched a new website for the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC). The site has been redesigned to make it easier for users to find programs and interventions that evidence shows have had a positive impact on student outcomes. Users can take a quick tour of the site and get an overview of the different features and how to use them

Resources to Use

What We Heard from Educators This Week


1. "Stressing professionalism is key in growing more teachers." -- Teacher, Kansas 

2. "Great professional learning is compelling and convincing, and provides concrete strategies for a teacher to act upon." -- Teacher, Wisconsin

3. "Professional learning that works must be facilitated by great teachers and differentiated to connect the adult learner to the learning." -- Teacher, Florida

4. "I provide professional development for teachers so they have an opportunity to connect with colleagues about the challenges they face in their classrooms and work together to develop strategies to address these challenges." -- Teacher, Washington

5. "Great professional learning means educators doing the work of reflection, asking questions, and learning from and about their students, classrooms, and profession." -- Teacher, Kentucky