Teacher Leaders and their Dementors -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- November 10, 2016

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

November 10, 2016  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools Honored


2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools were honored at a ceremony and convening over two days in D.C. The 329 winners represent schools that have achieved high learning standards or are making noteworthy improvements in closing the achievement gap. NBRS representatives had the opportunity to meet and share their secrets to achieving so much for their students. Missed the celebration? Check out the recording of Secretary King's speech to the winners.

PE Teacher's blog


Bob Marijanovich, Physical Education teacher at Keith Elementary (Walled Lake, Mich.), started his career in the Army, but made his way into education as both a teacher and a coach. In honor of his son, Bobby, who passed away from a heart and lung defect at the age of 16, Bob has run 22 successful Jump Rope for Heart events with students to benefit the American Heart Association. Marijanovich is a great example of what it means to be called to serve both as a Veteran and as a teacher for the last 37 years. As Veteran’s Day approaches, we extend a heartfelt thank you to all those teachers who also served our country as members of the armed forces.

stressed teacher

Is Conventional Wisdom on Teacher Turnover Correct? 

There have been a number of reports on the rate at which teachers leave the classroom and how to keep them from leaving, but to create good policies Matt Barnum says you must first have accurate information. Barnum pulls 11 facts you should know about teacher turnover out of a vast body of research and analyzes the good, the bad and ways to change it (the 74).

King's Video Promotes Cultural and Global Competencies

International Ed week

International Education Week – November 14 – 18 – celebrates the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This year, Secretary King promotes this year’s theme, Promoting Cultural and Global Competencies for All. In his video message King reflects on the power of understanding equity, excellence and diversity, and the need to provide avenues for our students to study abroad, and for international students to study in the United States.

Quick Interventions to Improve Student Achievement

bi brains

University of California, Berkeley Professor David L. Kirp, shares some strategies to counteract students’ negative thoughts about their learning abilities. While Kirp acknowledges that these small interventions aren’t going to solve the achievement gap, they will help engage students and will add a few more strategies to a teacher’s repertoire (New York Times).   

Students’ Ideas Fill Empty Space

children city plan

A vacant 70-acre lot in La Cross, Wisc., is getting a lot of attention as a group of seventh-graders from Lincoln Middle School spent over a month working with city planners to plan for the empty space. Ideas pitched by students ranged from museums to walking trails to a zip line. Student Ella Lysne said, ““It was really cool, knowing something we did will have an impact on La Crosse in the next 10 years.” City planner Lewis Kuhlman says work on the selected project will begin in 2017 (Hansen, La Cross Tribune).

Single-Sex Schools Aim to Boost Female Representation in STEM

All Girls

The Atlantic explores the pros and cons of single-sex schooling, particularly those focused on STEM education for girls. Researchers, educators, and rights activists do not agree on the way to increase female representation in STEM, but they can still agree that there is a lack of diversity affecting the field. Explore the arguments to decide for yourself if the all-girls schools popping up all over the country are beneficial and fair to young women and men (Yap, The Atlantic).

Eyes from report

Listening to Black Teachers

In an important report by the Education Trust, “Through Our Eyes: Perspectives and Reflections from Black Teachers,” a survey of 150 teachers in public and charter schools in seven states expressed disillusion with the profession – a leading factor for why there are so many black teachers who are leaving the classroom. NPR’s Cory Turner looks at the issues and the big themes – that they are seen as subpar educators; that there is bias by their colleagues; and that their connection with their students helps them manage their classrooms.

Bus Driver Transports Kids, Warms Toes and Hearts

Socks for Kids

In can get downright cold in Northern Michigan in February. So when Traverse City, Mich., bus driver Martha Alvarez saw a little kindergartner with no socks on her bus, she was startled into action. In no time, Alvarez had created the Warm Toes Sock Drive. Over 4000 pairs of socks were donated in a single week, plus Alvarez won a grant to support the work. “These are our kids and we have a responsibility for them that goes beyond just transporting them safely to and from school,” said Alvarez. The second Warm Toes Sock Drive will take place November 14-18 to cover kids’ feet before hard winter begins (Rosales, NEAToday).

Preserve the Voice and Story of a Loved One

One more Reminder: StoryCorps is again working with educators to preserve the voices and stories of an entire generation of Americans over a single holiday weekend. The project is free and open to all students age 13 and over, whether in private, public, charter, homeschool, or any other educational environment. In 2011, Secretary King recorded a StoryCorps interview in New York with Alan Osterweil, his elementary school teacher at PS 276 in Brooklyn. Listen here as together they recall the sudden death of John's mother when John was in Alan’s 4th grade class. 

Mr. Rad, teacher

All the Hard Work of Teaching

Teaching is hard work, and this post by Tom Rademacher, English teacher in MinneapolisMinn., explains in so many ways how and why. He says, “We say silly things like, ‘Set high expectations and the students will meet them.’ But we skip all the things between setting and achieving expectations that are the real work of teaching.” Mr. Rad looks forward to getting it right, but knows it will never be easy (RademacherEducation Post).

Teacher Leaders and their Dementors

Dementor 2

No one said leadership was easy, but teacher leadership can be even harder when you add it to all the other duties of a teacher. Megan M. Allen is exploring those issues in a Teacher Leader Dementor Series and how to defeat them. The second part of the series focuses in on the very hard, and often elusive self-care that teachers put on the back burner. We need teacher leaders, and Allen makes a compelling argument for leading while balancing life (Allen, Education Week). 

Building Confident Drivers

traffic lights

According to driver education teacher James Starke of Derby High School in Derby, Kan., his special education students are able to drive but lack confidence. So Starke spends a whole year with these students, teaching them road rules over a semester and practice driving for another semester. Taking the class in school is free and builds their confidence for taking the tests at the DMV. For many of these students, having a driver’s license means more opportunities after they graduate, including jobs and other vocational programs (Ochoa, DerbyInformer.com). 

Teach to Lead Inclusion, Equity and Opportunity Twitter Chat

IEO Twitter chat

Join the Teach to Lead team and the Department's Teaching Ambassador Fellows for a Twitter chat on Tuesday, November 15, 7-8pm ET, to discuss issues and strategies prior to the Inclusion, Equity and Opportunity Summit in Chicago. @TeachtoLead will be the guest moderator for the chat and educators can use #TeachersatEd to participate. 

Resources to Use

What We Heard from Educators This Week

king w student

This week, we asked educators this question: Besides academic objectives, what is one thing you hope your students learn from you?

5. “That their language and culture are assets of incredible value and worth that enrich everyone in our country.” Teacher, Washington

4. “That asking questions is not a sign of weakness or ignorance, but instead it is the first step in learning and enlightenment.” Teacher, New Jersey

3. “To set aside fears and doubts and take advantage of opportunities.” Teacher, Ohio

2. “To believe in themselves as much as I believe in them.” Teacher, Washington 

1. “To live aloha!” Teacher, Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands)