THE TEACHERS EDITION -- January 16, 2014

The Teachers Edition

January 16, 2014  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

Promise Zones event at the WH

Kiara Molina, a ninth grade student at the Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academy, garners laughs praising her teachers who like their jobs while introducing President ObamaKiara, whose mother and grandmother are both from the Dominican Republic, lives in Harlem and has been with the Harlem Children’s Zone since she was four years old.


Attacking Poverty 

Following through on a promise in his 2013 State of the Union address to “direct federal attention and support to needy areas across the country,” President Obama announced that the Administration will “begin helping five economically hard-hit communities fight poverty and assist children.” Flanked by American students and teachers, the President unveiled his plan at the East Room of the White House. Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul attended the event and lauded the plan to address poverty in their state.

Obama said that San Antonio (Texas), Los Angeles (Calif.), Philadelphia (Pa.), Southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma have been selected as the first “Promise Zones.” In these areas federal agencies will cut through red tape in an effort to give struggling residents a chance at better lives. Duncan told reporters that the Promise Zones will “receive extra points” toward ED competitive grants. Learn more. Read the fact sheet. Watch the event at the White House.

Common Core Connections

IS COMMON CORE THE ENEMY OF AUTONOMY? Arkansas 2007 Teacher of the Year Justin Minkel answers this question with refreshing frankness and insight. Read his article in EdWeek and his thoughtful follow up through virtual conversations with teachers responding to the article. 

HELPING ENGLISH LEARNERS WITH THE COMMON CORE. Wendi Pillar provides thoughtful Common Core suggestions for teachers of English learners, stressing the importance of vocabulary development, reading aloud and varying language supports. Read more.

VIRTUAL RESOURCES. offers an online collaborative community where educators can receive information and discuss guidelines and current practices in implementing the Common Core State Standards. Members receive free webinars and chats, a continuing education certificate, and access to all of the recorded webinars, presentations, resources and online discussions. 

RESPECT Teaching Update

Two Governors Sign on to Pay Teachers as Professionals

The Teacher Salary Project recently announced that the governors of New York and South Carolina have affirmed their commitment to raising teacher pay. Nikki Haley (S.C.) plans to raise entry-level teacher salaries by $10,000. Andrew Cuomo (N.Y.) said, "You want teachers who can perform and do perform? them like the professionals they are."

THE APPRENTICESHIP MODEL. In the Atlantic, William Eger and Michael Zuckerman suggest that school systems across the country should adopt an apprenticeship model as a more effective and cheaper way to prepare teachers for leading a classroom. Read their article.

JOIN THE RESPECT TEAM. Sign up to get updates on the RESPECT Project and to be added to the mailing list for opportunities for educators to lead the transformation of their profession.

"Those who can, teach. 

All others find a less significant profession."

(National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel, quoting from a coffee mug given to him by his sister, at  a meeting celebrating the launch of the Teacher Leadership Initiative.) 

Quote to Note

Bored of Education video


Not Bored of Education Anymore!

Students and teachers searching for an inspirational pick-me-up need not reach for caffeinated beverages! Check out this video featuring hip-hop artist and New York City teacher, Ian Willey. Filmed at KIPP Washington Heights Middle School, the 4:26-minute music video--"Bored of Education"-- riffs humorously on the Common Core, teachers, principals, students, school security officers, and, of course, the Board of Education. It's all good-natured fun that puts a whole new spin on student and teacher engagement. "Bored of Education" is part of Wiley's effort to promote the April release of his first full-length album that aims to push forward students' dreams and empower them to reach for them.


Study Identifies Educational Strengths of Low-Income, Minority Students

A new study led by Natasha Cabrera (University of Maryland in College Park) challenges accepted stereotypes of the educational prospects of minority children.

The study found that minority children are very strong in three areas of development: social competence, language, and ethnic identity. The authors state that many low-income minority children exceed their peers in self-regulation, the ability to manage behavior, emotions, and attention. These strengths influence social skills and academic success.

The study also found that African American children command oral narrative skills that may uniquely help them read. They also produce higher quality narratives and exhibit greater narrative comprehension than their white peers.

The study, “Positive Development of Minority Children,” appears in Social Policy Report, a publication of the Society for Research in Child Development. Download the report.


Did You Know?

Students who pass an Advanced Placement (AP) exam complete college at three times the rate of those who do not. 

question mark

Learn about the Kentucky teachers who are improving the odds that students will succeed in college, and receiving training, mentoring and bonuses for their work increasing AP access.


Finalists for Nation’s Top Teaching Honor from Fla., Md., Pa. and Va.

The Council of Chief State School Officers announced the four finalists for the 2014 National Teacher of the Year. The National Teacher of the Year spends a year representing educators across the country and advocating on behalf of the teaching profession. Outside of their classrooms, the four finalists share their knowledge with colleagues through mentorship, staff development and training opportunities to help ensure every teacher is equipped to prepare all of their students for success.

This year's finalists: • Dorina M. Sackman, an 8th grade teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) at Westridge Middle School in Orlando, Fla• Sean McComb, a high school English and AVID teacher at Patapsco High School & Center for the Arts in Baltimore, Md. • Ryan Devlin, an 11th-grade English and 9–12th-grade technology teacher at Brockway Area Junior/Senior High School in Brockway, Pa. • Melissa Ann Porfirio, a first grade teacher at Crestwood Elementary School in Springfield, Va. Learn more about them.

Turnaround Tales: Success Stories from the School Turnaround Learning Community

WHITE EARTH RESERVATION SCHOOLPaula Quam at the Grand Forks (ND) Herald reports about how the White Earth Reservation has shown great improvement after being named a priority school. After being targeted as a priority school last year, the K-6 Naytahwaush Community Charter School “has gone from its usual place at the bottom of academic performance to a place of celebration.”

the New Math


To Close the Opportunity Gap, Start Early 

After providing low-income children with quality preschool early in life, children studied had the same IQ as their wealthier peers by age 3. 

From a new study published in the Journal of Human Resources (Duncan and Sojourner), The study also showed positive, lasting effects from early childhood interventions. Read more in a Huffington Post review (Rebecca Klein).


What Works for Native Americans

The Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now (MinnCAN) has issued a report that goes beyond the usual discouraging focus on reservation conditions and reflects hope for education's potential to close gaps for Native American students. The report highlights three programs where students are making academic progress and illuminates the practices contributing to their success. Cynthia Boyd (Minnesota Post) has written an overview of the MinnCAN report.

FAFSA Resources

SEVEN COMMON FAFSA MISTAKES. In this blog, Nicole Callahan highlights common mistakes students and their families make while filling out the FAFSA. Read her tips along with resources to get it right the first time.   

Students' Corner

FIVE REASONS TO FILL OUT THE FAFSA. Filling out the FAFSA is the first step toward getting financial aid. This blog urges college bound students not to "leave money on the table." Learn more.

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• REAL HEROES. Deborah Chang (Huffington Post) describes characteristics of great teachers along with "5 Things Great Teachers Are Not." First on the list? "Great teachers are not superheroes; they are everyday heroes." Read more. 

• THANKS A MILLIONFarmers Insurance will be providing $1,000,000 in grants for teachers in 2014 through their campaign to thank a million teachers on their website. The public can logon and thank a specific teacher, who will then be eligible to apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to be used for National Board Certification (or renewal) and for classroom supplies through Adopt-a-Classroom. 

• A TIMELY MOVEMENT. Some schools are adopting a strategy called expanded learning time (ELT), recreating the school day (or school year) to provide more, high quality learning time for students. The Time to Succeed coalition has introduced an interactive map showing the number of schools in each state that have expanded learning time, how much time is provided, and related legislation about learning time. Access the map and learn more about ELT data in your state. 

• HEALTHY HABITS FOR KIDS WHO WORRY. In "6 Healthy Habits to Teach Kids Who Worry Too Much" (Huffington Post), psychologist Daniel Peters offers six strategies to build tools within our children to help them combat common anxious feelings. 

 RUBY PAYNE WEBINAR. The Association for Middle Level Education is offering Keys to Educating Middle Grades Students in Poverty, a webinar taking place Friday, January 24, 2014, at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Based on Ruby Payne's recent book, Achievement for All: Keys to Educating Middle Grades Students in Poverty, Payne will focus on identifying what it means to be a growing adolescent in poverty, locating and utilizing resources and interventions for these students, and developing capacity for teachers and administrators to help all students achieve success. Information and registration.

open book

Recommended Reading

• HOMEWORK FOR PARENTS. In a speech given this week at the National Assessment Governing Board Education Summit for Parent Leaders, Arne Duncan asked parents to become serious advocates for excellence and equity in schools. "Parents have the power to challenge educational complacency here at home. Parents have the power to ask more of their leaders – and to ask more of their kids and themselves," Duncan told the crowd. Read his complete remarks

• GO, GRADUATE! In this NY Times op-ed, David Kirp discusses a challenge facing the U.S. economy: "American students are enrolling in college in record numbers, but they’re also dropping out in droves." Citing evidence that fewer than half of those who start four-year colleges (and barely a third of community college students), graduate, Kirp makes a case for universities "to give undergraduates the care and attention akin to what’s lavished on students at elite institutions," and he suggests systems of support that could be used to help students succeed.

Top 5 Teacher Quotes 

about Teacher Leadership

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

(Note: the following statements were made by members of teacher leadership organizations during a meeting celebrating the launch of the Teacher Leadership Initiative at the NEA January 7, 2014. Many of the members were classroom teachers.)

from principal shadowing event

5. "Teaching is a team sport." (Barnett Berry, Center for Teaching Quality)

4. "In today's world of sound bites and silver bullets, teacher leadership isn't sexy yet. ... It's not hard for us to do a program. We need to create a teacher leadership movement in this country." (Segun Eubanks, NEA)

3. Identifying a need for teachers to shape the issues that are discussed in conversations about education: "We [teachers] have done too little to change what's on the table. We need to lead and be sure we debate and focus on what's really important." (Dennis Van Roekel, NEA)

2. "Professions transcend states. They set the expectations and culture for their work." (Ron Thorpe, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards)

1. "The enemy of this [teacher leadership] initiative is the inertia of the bureaucratic structure of our schools." (Teacher)