My Philosophy: Do Less, Learn More --THE TEACHERS EDITION -- March 23, 2017

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

March 23, 2017  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

It's Still March and Women's History Month

women at the polls

Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Educators can commemorate and encourage the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. We have rounded up some resources to use and peruse (Library of Congress; Education World). 


Children of Chicago Educators to Receive Scholarships

The University of Chicago has announced an expansion of its UChicago Promise Scholarship program to include children of teachers, para-educators, counselors, and support specialists such as lunchroom staff working in Chicago Public Schools. These children will be eligible for full-tuition scholarships to the University of Chicago. Chief Education Officer at CPS Janice K. Jackson said, “This scholarship recognizes the contribution and sacrifice of our faculty who educate, inspire and help mentor Chicago's youth" (UChicago News).

College Not Prison image


The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) recently launched #CollegeNotPrison, a social media and public awareness campaign to educate policymakers, campus leaders, and the public about the financial aid barriers justice-involved youth face when pursuing higher education. IHEP researches the trends and impacts of access to higher education for justice-involved Americans. They are calling for policies changes that will improve student access and ensure student success. Watch Alton's Story -- a short, two-minute video featuring Alton Pitre, a senior at Morehouse College majoring in sociology to learn more about justice reform and college affordability

Do Less, Learn More

Teacher Pernille Ripp of Oregon Middle School (Oregon, Wisc.) shares a teaching philosophy she has adopted this year: slow learning. She has cut out extra stuff, made her projects count for more, and invested in more individual teaching time. How does this affect her class? "I feel like I am a better teacher.  Like what we are doing is actually making a difference. That they are growing more as learners" (Ripp, 


Houston Principal Turns High School Around, Earns $10M Grant

When Bertie Simmons took over as principal in 2000, Furr High School (Houston, Texas) was rife with gangs, disorder, and low academic performance. Her tough-love approach has brought incredible change, even leading to a $10 million "Super School" grant to continue the work she's started. This 82-year-old principal pins her school's high graduation rate, low suspension numbers, and improved academics on the tough environment she entered. The gangsters "got me so involved in trying to save the school that I think that helped me to keep going on" (Mellon, Houston Chronicle).

Ultimate App for Digital Storytelling 

To keep up with her students, middle school English teacher Jennifer Kirsch of The Hewitt School (New York City) decided to find a way to incorporate her students' digital devices into her curriculum. The search led her to an app that allowed her students to tell a story visually, in a comic strip style. Kirsch confirms the relevance of developing these skills: "Between technology classes during the day and access to the internet at night, students are developing a new set of digital abilities and ignoring them is a missed opportunity for English teachers" (Kirsch, NCTE).

DC kid at library

D.C.'s Providing Books From Birth

It’s been one year since D.C. started giving free books to young kids to help close the achievement gap. So far Books From Birth has provided 147,575 books to 22,000 children (half the eligible population) in an effort to close the word gap for early learners. The D.C. Library has also coupled Books From Birth with its Sing, Talk, and Read program, which hosts workshops at libraries and housing projects to teach parents how to promote literacy. The next step is to track children who have been part of the program to see the impact on achievement (Stringer, The 74).  

Tribes Take Their Seat at the Policy Table

When it comes to ESSA stakeholder engagement, Native American communities should have a voice in policy deliberations saysNational Indian Education Association Executive Director Ahniwake Rose (Cherokee, Muscogee/Creek). To take full advantage of this new environment, the NIEA has created a guide for states and districts to better partner with local tribes to incorporate their needs in policymaking. "While it is important that we acknowledge the past and consequences of past mistakes, it is equally important that we look toward the future," said Rose (de la Vera, TNTP). 

Approaches to Working with Introverted Students

Traditional classroom activities such as student-driven discussion and public-speaking assignments are frequent barriers to introverts' academic success. Susan Cain, author of Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, makes some suggestions for strategies that might work better for those students and bolster the success of all. Try different discussion protocols that allow for small group or pair chat, she says, and be aware of your students' comfort zones with speaking assignments. She also suggests using social media (Nadworny, KQED). 

Resources to Use

What We Heard from Educators This Week

5. "Learning is a messy business." Teacher, Missouri
4. "There is no such thing as perfection in the classroom." Teacher, Washington
3. "It is okay to make mistakes during the learning process. Sharing them builds trust." Teacher, New Jersey
2. "When students see us stepping out of our comfort zone, they will be more apt to do the same." Teacher, Michigan
1. "Vulnerability is a great equalizer; it shows we're human." Teacher, New Jersey

DeVos meets with Teachers