Is Catering to Learning Styles Damaging? --THE TEACHERS EDITION -- March 16, 2017

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

March 16, 2017  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

Ohio Summit

Innovation Through Teacher Leadership Summit

Teach to Lead is proud to announce the 12th Teacher Leadership Summit in Columbus, Ohio on May 5-7, 2017.  This Innovation Through Teacher Leadership Summit is open for applications through Thursday, March 30, 2017. This summit provides teachers and their supporters with time to collaborate, as well as skills and consultation, to incubate innovative ideas that can make a positive impact for students in their schools, communities, districts and states.

Modeling Imperfection in the Classroom

Many new teachers and even some veterans are moved by the need to feel like they've accomplished their daily tasks perfectly. Yet as Justin Minkel, teacher at Jones Elementary (Springdale, Ark.) writes, "The children we teach need to know that they can be imperfect and still be wonderful." Therefore it is imperative that teachers offer models for students in the art of being imperfect, learning from mistakes, and "making the path by walking" (Minkel, Education Week). 

Mahershala Ali gets oscar

Teachers Win Big at Oscars

In the February awards show, many Oscar winners thanked teachers for their success. Moonlight's Mahershala Ali winning for best supporting actor, gave a shout out to teachers who had taught him valuable lessons he applied to his acting career. And winning for best original song City of Stars in La La Land, Justin Paul, a 2003 Staples High School (Westport, Conn.) graduate, thanked his public school teachers for their value and recognition of the arts (Will, Education Week). 

OSERS Seeks to Improve IDEA Website

ED's office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is seeking input from users of the website as part of our effort to provide updated, easy-to-navigate IDEA resources to children with disabilities and their families, teachers, administrators, advocates, and other stakeholders. Secretary DeVos has expressed her commitment to ensuring that infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families receive support and services they are entitled to under IDEA. As ED seeks to make improvements, the current website will remain available.  

To Help Students, Empower Principals

Principal Jones

 Kenwood Academy High School principal Gregory Jones (Chicago, Ill.) is just one of the nation's school leaders making a difference to students by creating a sense of community and holding their students accountable. Kenwood's graduation rate "reached 85 percent last year, up from 74 percent in 2012, the year Jones arrived." In David Leonhardt's New York Times Op-Ed, he says, "To Fi x Schools, Go Get the Principal" (Lott, New York Times photo).

Community Rallies around Reservation School's Athletes


Sometimes for a struggling community, a high school championship trophy can pull people together. Arlee, Mont., a tiny town of about 600 on the Flathead Indian Reservation, sent its hopes along with its boys' basketball team to the state tournament last weekend. After a month marred by suicides and sicknesses affecting the community, the Arlee Warriors brought home the first-place hardware for the first time in school history. Coach Zanen Pitts told his team, "You’re that escape...You’re that relief to get away from that junk in the world.” The hometown heroes were escorted back into town by a 50-car parade including law enforcement sounding their sirens, as well as parents and teachers (Friesen, Missoulian).

Climbing Fences: Program Focuses on August Wilson's Work

Each year, students at three schools in the Los Angeles area engage in an in-depth study of playwright August Wilson's work led by Center Theatre Group's August Wilson In-School Residency Program. Four classrooms get visiting artists once a week to help direct the study. This year's investigation of Fences takes on significance because of its presence at the Academy Awards. Students write about the plot in 140-character tweets and participate in a monologue contest (Neely, 89.3KPCC).

Barton - art teacher

Teachers' Childhood Scribbles Inspire Students 

Art teacher Anna Barton Schnadelbach (Scholars Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary, Memphis) inspires her students with scribbles and doodles she made growing up. In a Chalkbeat feature How I Teach, she talks about the focus of her instruction and what works to inspire her students. "As a child, it’s hard to remember that your teacher was once a child too. Sharing my 5-year-old scribbles and bad middle school bangs makes me a little more approachable," she said (Bauman, Chalkbeat).

Learning Styles

Could Catering to Learning Styles Hurt Students?

Recently, several scientists have penned their concerns to the The Guardian about the use of learning styles by teachers. Their biggest concern is the lack of scientific evidence that supports teaching to students' learning styles and the harm that can be done by catering to certain styles. Read on to make your own call on how to utilize learning styles in the classroom (Weale).

Attracting Master Teachers for the Neediest Schools

SA schools

San Antonio Independent School District is on a mission to attract and retain master teachers by providing incentives for after school instruction and providing enhanced leadership and professional learning opportunities. The school district acknowledged that this new structure for pay may be controversial, but that many teachers are already doing this work and now there will be funds to match their efforts. This initiative is partially funded by the Teacher Incentive Fund awarded by the U.S. Department of Education (Kleifgen, Rivard Report).  

Resources to Use

What We Heard from Educators This Week

kids on rug

5. "To care for myself, I adjust my schedule to include more moments of peace." Teacher, California

4. "The more duties and stress you have as a school leader, the more important it is to take time for yourself." Superintendent, Colorado

3. "I'm working on an opportunity with students to share thanks to their teachers through Media Club." Teacher, Wisconsin

2. "Oxymoron alert: Looking ahead to 'in the moment,' I'm hoping to get some outdoor writing practices when it warms up." Teacher, New Jersey

1. "Ask students what they think about an idea, or ask for theirs. I've found students provide the best professional development." Teacher, Alaska