Teaching Matters


ED's bi-weekly newsletter celebrating Teachers and Teaching

November 7, 2011  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

Miss Jones in the garden

Lisa Jones Grows Her Own at Watkins Elementary

Read about how District of Columbia teacher Lisa Jones works her unique brand of magic to blend teaching academics and soft skills with her third grade class.

No doubt about it, the best part of my job as teacher liaison for ED is getting to watch teachers who are really great at their jobs caught up in the art of teaching.
This happened not long ago, when I tagged along for a morning in the third grade classroom of Lisa Jones, a District of Columbia Public Schools teacher at Watkins Elementary. As I arrived, Jones’s kids were collecting basil from their community garden, but Jones was harvesting something else altogether.

ESEA Waivers:  What They Mean to Teachers

Teacher Question (TQ):  What is ESEA Flexibility, what some are calling Waivers?
Answer:  ESEA Flexibility is the offer to relieve states from some of the provisions of the No Child Left Behind law that aren’t working. Until Congress passes a law reauthorizing (and fixing) NCLB, states are being given an option to request waivers of certain portions of the law, provided they have certain plans  in place to better prepare our children for college and careers.
TQ:  Who can apply for ESEA Flexibility?  My state?  My school?  My union?
edl ogo

A Perspective on Teacher Turnover

Read Gamal Sherif's blog conversation about the effects of teachers losing their jobs at Bodine High School in Philadelphia.

Danielle Kovach, New Jersey Teqacher of the Year

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from Teachers (Heard by ED)

5.  Talking about the importance of good school leadership:  "If you have to remind me that you are the principal, then you probably aren't."  (Camden, NJ)
4.  Responding to how technology is going to transform the profession:  "The most important teacher will always be a teacher."  (Jonesboro, AR)
3.  Explaining the difference between working for the US Department of Education and teaching in a high-needs school:  “That (working for ED) is  a Pentagon job, but I work in Fallujah!”  (Washington, DC)
2.  Discussing the need to pay teachers fairly:  “What we do is important. It’s time to be trained and compensated for taking on our nation’s most important work.”  (New York, NY)
1. Pointing out that raising teacher pay will not solve all of teachers' problems:  “My concern is preventing burnout; more money will not make me less burned out.”  (Chicago, IL)

Wanted:  Principals Who Aspire to Inspire

Read the blog of Teaching Ambassador Fellow Greg Mullenholz (pictured right) about encountering a recurring theme for him this month:  the need for good school leadership.
TAF Greg Mullenholz
Our Future, Our Teachers final

Our Future, Our Teachers

Read the plan to improve the preparation and induction that new teachers receive from traditional and nontraditional programs and districts.

Inside the President's Plan to Fix Crumbling Schools and Save Teacher Jobs

Arne Duncan speaking about AJA at Wake Tech

Teaching Ambassadors Recommend Reading

  • From Laurie Calvert "Teachers Don't Do It For The Money" So... Andrew Rotherham's insightful blog reminds readers that while teachers didn't enter the profession to get rich, there are solid reasons for paying them well.  Posted in September, his message is timeless. 
  • From Claire Jellinek:  McKinsey & Company's research report Closing the Talent Gap (from September 2010) is quickly becoming one of the studies I hear people talking about both in and outside of the Department.
  • From Geneviève DeBose: Putting Middle Grades Students on the Graduation Path: A Policy and Practice Brief.  In this brief from 2009, Robert Balfanz and the Association for Middle Level Education (formerly the National Middle School Association) highlight the importance of focusing on the often-forgotten middle grades when working towards increasing high school graduation rates. Balfanz’s ability to talk policy and practice makes this read accessible to many and applicable to all.
  • From Greg Mullenholz The Road to Charlottesville.  This paper from 1999 really helped me to frame the move towards standards prior to NCLB. It’s more of a historical/contextual piece than it is a cutting edge research piece.
  • From Steve Owens Peer Review: Getting Serious About Teacher Support and Evaluation.  This paper reaches three important conclusions based on in-depth analysis of two established PAR programs in California: 1) Peer support and evaluation can and should coexist.  2) PAR is a rigorous alternative to traditional forms of teacher evaluation and development. 3) PAR leads to better collaboration between districts and unions.