Encouraging A Positive Mindset -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- October 6, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

October 6, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

newcomer kit

Equal Opportunities for English Learners 

The Department recently released new non-regulatory guidance on Title III of the Every Student Succeeds Act to help schools and districts provide effective services to English language learners. The guidance will help support services to the more than 4.8 million English learners enrolled in U.S. schools in grades K-12, as reported in the 2014-15 school year. The guidance is accompanied by the Newcomer Toolkit to help educators and other support staff that work with immigrant students. This work continues to build on the Department’s commitment to educational excellence and ensuring equal access for all students.

Principal Dana Nerenberg


Dana Nerenberg, a 2016 Campus Principal Ambassador Fellow, is currently the Principal of Sitton Elementary School (Portland, Ore.) where she leads a forty member faculty and staff serving 405 K-5 students. Reflecting on her time teaching in and leading schools in communities as diverse as the Mississippi Delta, Washington DC, and now Portland, Dana shares her five essential values for supporting English Language learners in this Homeroom blog.

Now Accepting Applications for the Inclusion, Equity, and Opportunity Summit

IEO Smmit

The Inclusion, Equity, and Opportunity Summit will bring teacher leaders and other stakeholders together to incubate their ideas for combating inequity and fighting for social justice on behalf of students. Students and educators across the country face unique challenges based on their race/ethnicity, national origin, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual identity, gender, or religion. Ideas will leverage teacher leadership to address equity for our highest-needs students and schools. Teams will be provided support to create an action plan for their ideas, and build relationships with organizations that can further their work. Submit your idea by Wednesday, October 26 at 11:59pm EST.

Positive Mindset

Encouraging a Positive Mindset 

Teaching can be stressful and all-consuming, so it only makes sense that a teacher’s mindset might take a turn for the worse as the school year progresses. Unfortunately, that can also take a toll on students’ mindsets. Does this situation sound familiar? Take a few minutes to check out some strategies for getting your mindset and classroom on a positive track (Mielke, weareteachers.com).

Love Flag

Promoting Civil Discourse

The election season often elicits classroom discussions around candidates and issues. This 10-step guide from the New York Times for encouraging civil discourse around challenging topics may help you create a safe and respectful environment for productive discussion of difficult issues. In addition to creating classroom expectations that prioritize respect, students can take a civil discussion pledge. The Times also offers stories to promote discussion about discussion (Schulten, TheNewYorkTimes.com).

Can You Hear the Music?

If you like music in the classroom, you might find plenty of uses for Spotify’s new Education program, designed to meet teachers’ needs. Spotify’s Director of Social Impact, Kerry Steib, said, “Spotify believes that everyone should have access to music, and we know that nowhere is that access more powerful than in education.” Spotify, a music app with both free and subscription versions, has convened an advisory board of educators to help them develop this new program (Spotify).

teach to lead

140 Strong and Growing

Teach to Lead can now boast 140 supporting organizations that have actively promoted teacher leadership in various ways. Teach to Lead® seeks to build on these existing efforts, highlight the good work of organizations across the spectrum and invite them to share their resources and experience with the field. Interested in becoming a supporting organization? Email info@teachtolead.org.

Improving School and Police Relations

In his open letter from a principal to the police, Principal Ambassador Fellow alum Sharif El-Mekki discusses several negative interactions he and the staff and students of the Mastery Charter School–Shoemaker Campus, the neighborhood public charter school he leads in Philadelphia, have had recently with police officers. The letter includes frank discussion and strong opinions on these encounters, but also offers several suggestions on how officers and the school community could collaborate to improve relations (thephiladelphiacitizen.org).

Latinos Teach

#LatinosTeach Conversation on YouTube Live

You are invited to join in on a #LatinosTeach conversation with teachers across the country on YouTube Live to hear first-hand about why they teach. The live conversation will take place on Thursday, October 6, at 7:00pm EST/4:00pm PST. With the shift in demographics taking place in our nation’s schools, securing an adequate and equal education for all students, including Latinos, should be a priority not just for the federal government but for every person in this country. Learn more about what the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics is doing to help the cause.

early childhood

Walking Alongside the Learner

It may be no surprise to many of us, but neuroscience research has now confirmed that the first years of life are critical for "developing the architecture of the brain and future capacities to learn." In this blog, Professor and director of Graduate Programs in Early Childhood Education at City College of New York Beverly Falk explains her decades of research and highlights a new video she produced called “Walking Alongside the Learner: Curriculum in Yvonne’s PreK Classroom.” It features Yvonne Smithan early childhood educator since 1975, who reflects on how she supports young children to be active thinkers through experiences and responsiveness to children’s diverse backgrounds, interests, and abilities (Hechinger Report). 

Using Magic to Teach about Reality

For teachers looking for ways to teach students to be introspective, critical thinkers, and enjoy reading, look no farther than a good piece of fantasy writing. The Guardian’s Cornelia Funke, shares how fantasy stories can help children explore different perspectives and encourage empathy by reading about different realities.  Fantasy spans so many realms that it can support lessons in all subject areas if you’re open to a little magic.

California High School Takes Flight

airplane takes flight

A new class has taken off at North High School in Bakersfield, Calif.: aviation. The course covers the history of flight along with flying lessons via a simulation program. The students are taught by a seasoned pilot, and once their coursework is over they'll be able to transition into a real aircraft (FisherKernGoldenEmpire.com). 

Resources to Use

  • Partnering with Parents Webinar. Register to find out more about a powerful strategy for strengthening school-family partnerships on Thursday, October 13, 2016 at 3 p.m. ET. You will be introduced to The Right Question School-Family Partnership Strategy, an evidence-based approach that strengthens parents' capacity to ask better questions, participate more effectively in decisions, and partner more productively with schools.
  • 10th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy. High school students can apply for an engaging and unique mentoring program related to a variety of career paths, ranging from animation to zoology. Each participant learns important skills such as communication techniques, leadership values and networking strategies from Disney experts and world-renowned entrepreneurs and executives. Students must apply by Monday, October 31.
  • Review of Full-Day Kindergarten. A new 50-state review from Education Commission of the States, Full-Day Kindergarten: A look across the states, explores the different methods that states use to fund both full-day and half-day kindergarten and examines the spectrum of full-day kindergarten program requirements across the country.   

What We Heard from Educators This Week

King with teachers

5. "If you give teachers the time to find solutions, they will do so." – Teacher, Wisconsin

4. "I can say I'm a professional, but I don't have a profession when someone else is dictating my professional development." - Teacher, Maine

3. "I see more condors than I see male counselors." – Counselor, California

2. "We have these wonderful visions, but we never have the time to implement." – Teacher, California

1. "When students feel safe and challenged and are offered outstanding learning opportunities that match their zone of proximal development, they are able to soar." -  Principal, Oregon