TEACHING MATTERS Newsletter - June 13, 2012


June 13, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

Cherry Hill community garden

School Garden Plants Community

Read about how educators in Cherry Hill, N.J., blend their commitment to academic rigor and workplace readiness--with soil, seeds and sunshine. The community garden helps students reap pride in their community and a deep commitment to public service. 

Teachers attend 2011 Summer Seminar

ED Kicks Off Summer Seminars for Teachers

Continuing a popular series that began last summer, the Department of Education is offering two summer seminars for teachers. 

Civil Rights in the Classroom

Tuesday, June 26,  6:00 PM-7:30 PM ET

This seminar offers an overview of the Civil Rights Data Collection and practical advice from current teachers, a guidance counselor, and a parent about how to protect students' civil rights in the classroom. Presenters will explore strategies to prevent bullying, engage all students, present culturally relevant lessons, and work with parents to ensure the rights of students with disabilities.

What Teachers Need to Know about Personalized Learning

Tuesday, July 10, 6:00 PM-7:30 PM ET  

This seminar presents perspectives on an emerging topic for educators: creating adaptive instruction for every student in the class. Presenters from the Department of Education will provide insights about the meaning, purpose, and future of personalized learning. Teachers will discuss how they use real-time data to individualize instruction and to engage students with varied abilities.

The seminars are offered both at the U.S. Department of Education’s headquarters (400 Maryland Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20202) and on the Web. 

The seminars are free but space is limited, so reserve your spot now!
If you received a notice that a webinar is full, please try again. We have expanded the capacity recently.

Accommodations for persons with disabilities will be provided once requested at registration as long as the participant registers at least five working days prior to the seminar. 
For questions or comments, please email TeachTalk@ed.gov.

LGBT Students Give Arne Summer Homework

To kick off Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, students from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) met with Secretary Arne Duncan as part of the continuing series “Student Voices.” Participants discussed their concerns about harassment, proposed possible solutions, and urged the Secretary to assist in combating the bullying by collecting information about behavior toward the LGBT community via the Civil Rights Data Collection. Read more.
Arne Duncan meets with students from  LGBT community


FAFSA Completion Project Expands

The Department recently announced expansion of the FAFSA Completion Project, which  provides principals, counselors and college access professionals across participating school districts with verifiable and actionable information to use in increasing FAFSA completion among their student population. The expansion will give 92 additional school districts access to individualized data to help their students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Read more.

In Politico (June 11), Arne Duncan called for legislators to Take Politics Out of the Student Loan Process and prevent interest rates on new student loans from doubling July 1.

New (and Improved) Graduation Math

Education Week has released its Diplomas CountTrailing Behind, Moving Forward: Latino Students in U.S. Schools report for 2012.  According to the report, the national public school graduation rate for the class of 2009 reached 73.4%, an increase of 1.7 points from the previous year, and the highest rate since the 1970s. Much of this improvement can be attributed to a rapid 5.5-percentage-point[MER1]  increase in graduation rates among Latinos and a 1.7-point  increase for African-Americans.

Top 10 Tips for Teachers Working with School Counselors

Editor’s note: We met middle school counselor Ian Brodie at a recent RESPECT roundtable discussion at the U.S. Department of Education. He writes to offer tips for teachers on how to form partnerships with counselors. 
School counselors are an essential resource and great partners for teachers. Gone are the days of “guidance counselors” who existed in the background of the school, sifting through paperwork and deciding for students whether or not they were fit for college . . . Here are 10 tips for teachers to help them maximize their partnerships with counselors.
1. Call on counselors to help you understand the whole student. When teachers notice red flags, such as behavioral issues or grades, school counselors are prepared to help teachers gain a more complete understanding of the issues behind the actions. 
2. Consult with counselors for professional advice. When teachers find themselves stuck with strategies that aren’t working with a particular student, a counselor who is trained to problem-solve can help them gain fresh ideas to age old problems.
School Counselor Ian Brodie

Gregory Mullenholz
Ask Mr. Mullenholz

About Special Education

Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow Greg Mullenholz answers teachers' burning questions about education policy. In this issue, he takes up Federal Special Education Policy.
Teacher Question:  What is meant by the term “disability” as it applies to education?
Mr. Mullenholz:  Currently in United States federal law, there are more than 40 definitions of what it means to have a disability. The most widely used definition comes from the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law sets out the criteria for disability as a record of, or being regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities. In education, to meet the definition of disability and qualify for relevant services, a student’s educational performance must be adversely affected due to the disability. “Adversely affected,” however, does not mean that a child has to be failing in order to meet the requirements for special education services and supports. Read more.

Teachers' Notes

  • Give feedback to one of the two consortia developing the Common Core assessments, the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) by visiting their website on the following dates for public comment. ELA/Literacy: June 13-29; Mathematics for grades 3-8 and high school: June 25-July 11.
  • Watch "Lessons from a Public School Turnaround," an Edutopia video, about the eighth-lowest performing middle school in North Carolina, which has implemented turnaround strategies that are rapidly resulting in increased student achievement.
  • Tweet your response to Secretary Duncan's question to teachers: What is one positive lesson you learned from another teacher this year? #teachtalk
  • Pass on these summer reading tips for parents from this ED blog, Top 5 Ways to Prevent Rusty Summer Readers.

FREE Webinar: ESEA and Equitable Services

Available to private school students and teachers
On Thursday, June 21 at 11:30 AM (ET), the U.S. Department of Education Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE) will host a webinar on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and Services to Private School Students and Teachers. The webinar will address the obligations of state and local educational agencies (SEAs/LEAs) in providing for the equitable participation of private school students and teachers in ESEA programs requiring their participation.   
Please note that participants must register for the webinar to receive additional information.

Arne Duncan at TC Williams High School

Top 5 Teacher Quotes

(Wisdom from teachers heard by ED.)
5. “After talking, I see a glimmer of some control in my profession. I’ve been thinking about leaving. It’s gotten so bad that I am growing my hair because it is one thing I can control.”  (Middletown, Va.)
4. “You just don’t know all that teaching entails until you do it.” (Memphis, Tenn.)
3. “Glad we are looking to change, because if you keep what you have, you reaffirm that it is working.” (Salinas, Calif.)
2. “We need to change the way we look at education and the way teachers talk about it. That will attract more to the profession.” (Platteville, Wis.)
1. "It is past time for a new vision of the teaching profession for the 21st century." (Kingstree, S.C.)

Teaching Ambassadors Recommend Reading

  • From Laurie Calvert: Measuring Teacher Effectiveness, by Daniela Doyle and Jie Grace Han. This new report released by ConnCAN, 50CAN, and Public Impact looks under the hood of teacher evaluation systems. It provides a detailed cross-site analysis of strategies being used across 10 sites and provides detailed profiles of each. The authors offer insights to districts that are interested in improving their teacher evaluation systems.   
  •  From Robert Baroz: Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School, by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan, and published this year by Teachers College Press. 
  • From Geneviève DeBose"A Warning to Teenagers Before They Start Dating," by Jan Hoffman (June 3, NY Times).  As a middle school teacher, I know that my students are developing into young adults quickly. A government report found that nearly one in 10 high school students said they had been physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. This article highlights programs that focus on the education of middle grades students about relationships before they start serious dating in an effort to reduce abusive relationships. It offers good advice and is worth a read. 
  • From Madonna RampSwitch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, published by Crown Business in 2010. The authors explain why many changes, including education reforms and classroom improvements, don't stick, and they outline three simple strategies  to ensure that change happens quickly and easily. A must-read for anyone trying to change the behavior of their students, their colleagues, or themselves.