Teaching Matters Newsletter--February 21, 2012

seal edit

  Teaching Matters

    ED's bi-weekly newsletter celebrating teachers and teaching


February 21, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

Maddie asking a question

$5 Billion in Proposed Grants to Transform Teaching Profession

Heeding the President's call “to keep good teachers on the job and reward the best ones,” the Department of Education launched a National Conversation about the Teaching Profession and announced its proposal for a $5 billion competitive grant program to encourage states to overhaul the teaching profession.
Duncan officially announced the proposal, called the RESPECT Project, at a teacher town hall on Wednesday at the Department. Enlisting the help of the Teaching Ambassador Fellows, the Department plans to initiate a national conversation on teaching that will help to inform the new competition. Read the New York Times article and the ED blog
Watch the live speech or read the transcript.
Melendez hugging her kindergarten teacher

Former Assistant Secretary Reunites with her Favorite Teacher

After almost 50 years of searching, Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Superintendent of Santa Ana Unified Schools and former Department of Education Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, finally got to thank Mrs. Silverman, the kindergarten teacher who believed in her and helped shape her life. As a shy five year old, non-English speaking daughter of Mexican immigrants, Meléndez' life could have taken many directions. The education leader credits this early childhood educator with putting her on the path to success. This touching story highlights the impact that a single teacher can have on one child.

Get Your Students in on the Policy Action!

ED launched the National Education Startup Challenge, which invites students in 6th grade through postsecondary to develop innovative, real-world solutions to help students graduate college- and career-ready. For more information, go to http://nesc.challenge.gov.
Arne and student
cast of Teacher's Lounge

Teachers Share Their Experience Through Acting

What does education look and feel like from a teacher’s point of view? Geneviève DeBose, a Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow, captures the voices of classroom teachers in creative ways for her Department of Education colleagues. Read Fellow Maryann Woods-Murphy's blog on how DeBose brought the classroom to the stage. Watch the newly released School Days video to see clips from Teachers' Lounge.

Teachers Pull Up to the Table

In a recent Huffington Post blog, Teach Plus D.C. Teaching Policy Fellows reflect on their meeting with Arne Duncan and their reaction to his speech afterward. During his time with them, Duncan discussed the need for teachers to take the lead in the transformation of the profession. (See the related ED blog.)
Arne walking with teacher

National Financial Capability Challenge – What do your students know about money?

Students today face a fast-paced, dynamic economy and need a good financial education to succeed. In response to that need, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Education are sponsoring the National Financial Capability Challenge, which runs March 12 through April 13, 2012. The Challenge is a free, online series of financial questions for high school students to test their knowledge of earning, spending, saving, borrowing, risk protection, and more. Register at challenge.treas.gov.
quotation marks2

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

Wisdom from Teachers (Heard by ED)

5.  Reflecting on methods for teacher training and placement: "Teaching AP Calculus, AP Physics or circuit simulation without ever having built a single radio, a satellite, a spacecraft system or an advanced instrument is a short circuit approach to promotion and career advancement in education. University-driven workshop training and empowerment displaces real talent from the classroom and should really be a last resort method for teacher placement, not a 'best practice.'” (Norm on ED blog)
4.  Regarding the need to support teacher growth and development: "We starve teachers, so that’s why they eat the kids. Teachers need to be nourished in order to thrive and survive." (Boston, Mass.)
3.  In consideration of her options after receiving a reduction in contract for next school year: "I never thought that in my eighth year of teaching I would be looking for another new teaching position. I just don't have the energy to start over again." (Mauston, Wis.)
2.  On treating teachers as professionals: “Teachers are experts. We don’t allow them to exercise judgment.” (Cambridge, Mass.)
1.  Comparing how Finland and the U.S. perceive teachers: "Once Finnish candidates earn their MA and license, they are trusted to be responsible guardians of their nation’s future. We desperately need this kind of trust and respect of our teachers." (Dave on ED blog)

Teachers' Notes

  • Listen to this StoryCorps interview between Teaching Ambassador Fellow Antero Garcia and his former "drop-out" student.  
  • Looking for free resources? Center on Instruction offers resources for instruction in such areas as STEM, literacy, Special Education, and ELL that help educators improve academic outcomes so that all students graduate from high school college- and career-ready.
  • Read the latest blog in the "Teachers at ED" series: Prior to coming to ED, Vanessa Tesoriero, who lost her own hearing at 17, gave her deaf students opportunity to shine!
  • Watch Secretary Arne Duncan respond via Facebook and Twitter to parents and teachers about the education goals for their children and students in 2012. 
  • A recent study showed how a great elementary schoolteacher can raise the lifetime earnings of a single class by $700,000, despite student background. Doubtful? Read Nicolas Kristoff's article in the New York Times about the story of Olly Neal.

Group Designs New Teacher Logo

An apple sitting on an old wooden desk? Christmas sweaters with matching earrings and socks? No more! Studio 360 has redesigned the image of teachers.
Teacher Redesign Image

Duncan at Harvard: Let's "Stop Fighting the Wrong Education Battles"

"I'd encourage advocates to stop fighting the wrong education battles," Secretary Duncan said at the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Askwith Forum on Monday. "Seek common ground," he said, "knowing that it will both take you outside of your comfort zone and require tough-minded collaboration." Read Arne's speech.
student close-in

Who Is Responsible for Student Achievement?

In a recent ED Week article, David Cantor discusses the complex challenge of determining who does what in our efforts to improve student achievement.

White House Science Fair

President Obama hosted a White House science fair, featuring projects designed by over 100 students from across the country, in an effort to highlight the need for STEM teacher preparation and his related budgetary proposals. Read the Huffington Post article and the related White House blog.
Obama and student with marshmallow shooter
Greg Mullenholz
Ask Mr. Mullenholz

About PD and Professional Learning

Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow Greg Mullenholz answers teachers' burning questions about education policy. In this issue, he takes up teacher professional learning.
Teacher Question: Wait. In the title of this blog, you call it “professional learning.” Is that the same thing as “professional development” or “staff development?”
Mr. M:  To emphasize the fact that teachers are lifelong learners continually working to refine their craft, many educators have begun replacing the term professional development with professional “learning.” This new terminology represents a paradigm shift in the way that teachers improve their practice to meet the needs of a variety of learners and in the way that they work toward the rigorous goal of increasing the number of college- and career-ready students nationally. Read more.

A Free Legal Clinic Opens When Class is Over

Dennis Kass, a history teacher in Chicago's Little Village who has a law degree, helped start a foundation at his school that offers students and parents free legal advice. Read Paul Engleman's article in the New York Times.
teacher with two students

digital learning day sign on stage

From Laggards to Leaders

In her reflection on the first ever National Digital Technology Day, Teaching Fellow Claire Jellinek discusses the importance of digital technology in education as we strive to compete in the global arena. She also makes the argument that the "smart use of technology simply develops our skills as teachers."

Teaching Ambassadors Recommend Reading

  • From Bruce Taterka: The Art of Learning, by Josh Waitzkin. The author describes the principles of learning that allowed him to achieve world champion status in the unlikely fields of chess and martial arts. We use this book in our Theory of Knowledge class in the IB program at Mendham High School. Readable, compelling, and thought-provoking.
  • From Kareen Borders: "Stepping Into a Student's Shoes," by Margery B. Ginsberg. This article makes the point that some of the best professional learning is neither expensive nor prescribed. Shadowing students is an example of professional learning that is accessible, inexpensive, and influential in the ways it effects teachers' awareness and instructional practice.
  • From Steve Owens: "Teachers, Their Unions and the American Education Reform Agenda," by Marc Tucker. This paper, written by the President of the National Center on Education and the Economy, is a balanced look at teacher unionism in the United States, and its interaction with education reform. The historical context is excellent, and an indispensable comparative introduction to American and international labor relations in education. My takeaway is that efforts like the US Education Department's Labor Management Conference and International Summits are fostering a movement in the direction of the European "Social Partnership" model.