THE TEACHERS EDITION -- October 9, 2014

The Teachers Edition

October 9, 2014  |  Sign up to receive THE TEACHERS EDITION.

Logos of Teach to Lead supporting organizations


"Do This Now" 

This week Teach to Lead made important announcements about the initiative to advance teacher leadership. First, 31 organizations have officially signed on to advance the work. The initiative also announced that, beginning in December, Teach to Lead will convene three Regional Teacher Leadership Summits, one each in Boston, Mass., Louisville, Ky., and Denver, Colo

On a call with supporting organizations and members of the press, Arne Duncan described some reasons why educators are invested in teacher leadership. "Teachers want a say in how things are playing out in their classrooms," he said. "Where teachers have meaningful leadership opportunities, their students do better." 

National Board President and CEO Ron Thorpe agreed, adding, "We have to do this now. The profession has to do this." Teaching Ambassador Fellow Maddie Fennell weighed in on the call from Miller Park Elementary School (Omaha, Neb.), stressing the importance of "allowing teachers to lead without leaving the classroom."

Support organizations have offered to support Teach to Lead in a variety of ways, including:

  • Partnering with teachers and/or public administrators to further the initiatives generated through Teach to Lead and their networks of educators.
  • Highlighting ways local affiliates and districts use collective bargaining to ensure teacher leadership roles.
  • Providing ways teachers can get involved in policy and advocate for change.
  • Providing training to future teacher leaders.
  • Helping to host and facilitate Regional Teacher Leader Summits and Teacher Leadership Labs.

Learn more (SawchukEdWeek). Learn what the National Network of Teachers of the Year are saying in A Nation of Teacher Leaders

Check out the two new stories of teacher leadership in action just posted on Teach to Lead: Jessica Kruse (New  York, NY) recruited university students and members of the arts community to help immigrant students learn about American culture and become engaged citizens. New Jersey teacher Kevin Henson supports new teachers through home-grown induction leadership.

the New Math

Teachers Closer to the Common Core 

Value the State Standards More

According to a recent Scholastic survey of teachers across the country, Primary Sources, the Common Core State Standards are not only taking root, but the longer teachers have been immersed in teaching the new standards, the more they value them

38% of the teachers whose schools are in early stages of implementation say the Common Core is going well; 79% of those who teach in schools where the transition is underway and mostly complete are satisfied; 86% of those who completed the transition last year are pleased.

56% of the teachers in early stages are enthusiastic about the Common Core; 73% of those whose implementation is mostly complete or completed last year are enthusiastic; 80% of those completed the Common Core two years ago are enthusiastic supporters. 

Most teachers (53%) say they have seen positive changes in their students’ abilities to think critically, reason, effectively present ideas based on evidence; 50% on reading and comprehending informational texts. 

Learn more (Toppo, USA Today). Download the report.

Teachers Ask Arne About Teacher Diversity


Teacher Diversity Matters

In the latest Ask Arne video, 2013 Teaching Ambassador Fellow Joiselle Cunningham and Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans David Johns sit down with Arne Duncan to discuss a subject they are all passionate about: teacher diversity.  

Discussing the demographic makeup of teachers, Duncan contends that our nation's teaching talent should "reflect the great diversity of our nation's school children."

Among other related topics, the trio consider the challenges and opportunities that diversity can bring for students and adults at school

"Teaching isn't rocket science," Johns says. "It's a lot harder." Watch the video.   

Stop Bullying Graphic


Prevent Bullying

There are many new resources for schools, communities, districts and states to prevent bullying. The Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention released a variety of helpful tools aimed at informing youth, those who work with youth, members of the media, parents, and schools. These resources and more are found at or by reading the recap (Gorscak and Sisaye, Homeroom). 

Connected Educators Month. Own it. Worldwide.

ED invites educators to join our first event of Connected Educator month — a Twitter chat with Secretary Arne Duncan — on Tuesday, October 14 from 7-8 pm ET. Use the hashtag #ce14 to join. Check out the Connected Educator Month calendar and get involved today.

ED and other organizations will be hosting other events throughout the month. Here are a few ways to connect.

• 10/13, 5-6pm ET - Technology Tools for Schools

• 10/14, 7-8pm ET – Twitter chat with Secretary Duncan 

• 10/15, 2-3pm ET - Making a Better World: Teaching Digital Citizenship and 21st Century Skills

• 10/20, 4-5pm ET - Level Up Learning: The Players, Practices, and Perceptions of Teaching With Digital Games

NCTE/NCLE: Collaboration and Capacity-Building Theme Highlights. One of the most popular themes for 2014 is Collaboration & Capacity-Building. Check out how NCLE and NCTE want to move beyond getting connected to creating change, and how to build sustainable outcomes.  

CEM Book Clubs Up and Running. The popular CEM Book Clubs are up and running again. There are ten clubs to choose from this year, each with significant involvement by the books' authors and multiple ways for members to participate.    

CTQ Infographic


Optimizing Precious Teacher Time

A group of Kentucky teachers is recommending that teachers spend more time collaborating with peers, restructure schedules to optimize student and professional learning time, and rethink and reallocate classroom time. The Center for Teaching Quality has created an amazing shareable infographic, a series of blog posts, and a Prezi presentation on the subject. Learn more.  

Did you know?

Attracting Top Talent

The long-held notion that it's getting harder to attract top talent into the profession is no longer true.

Source: Dan Goldhaber, researcher and American Institutes for Research (AIR) vice president and director of the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research Program at AIR.

 In an article in The Quick and the ED, Goldhaber writes, "It is certainly true that teaching is a difficult job. And there is indeed academic evidence confirming that the profession faced increased difficulties drawing top academic talent (judged, for instance, by SAT scores) into public schools since the 1960s, when more occupations opened up to female and minority college graduates. But a recently published study I did with Joe Walch finds that the situation has changed dramatically since the 1990s. Recent college graduates with median and high (90th percentile) SAT scores were more likely to enter the teaching profession than other occupations in 2008 than in 2000 and 1993. In fact, the average SAT score of college graduates who went on to become teachers in 2008 was greater than that of college graduates who opted for other occupations, reversing a long-term trend."

Now, that's progress

EVALUATIONS BY EDUCATORS, FOR EDUCATORS.  Colorado teachers have helped the state develop an educator effectiveness system designed to give teachers better feedback on how to prepare students for success in college and careers. Read more (Progress).

STEM + A = STEAM. Bracken STEAM Academy’s focus on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics combined with holding students to higher standards has led to changes in the culture of the Las Vegas school. Read more (Barison, Homeroom).

P Chat

Principal Chat

SUPPORTIVE DISCIPLINE. The National Clearinghouse on Supportive School Discipline has unveiled an online repository of resources designed to make it easier for educators to replace zero tolerance policies with positive approaches to discipline that can keep kids in class and out of the “school-to-prison pipeline.” The site features research-based alternatives to suspension and expulsion, focusing on changing the culture of schools in which discipline is not being dispensed even-handedly. 

TEACHER EVALUATION INNOVATIONS PRESENT CHALLENGES. In a policy brief published by the Research on Urban Education Policy Initiative at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the authors contend that more complex teacher evaluations will depend on the will, skill and capacity of school leaders (Cosner, Kimball, Barkowski, Carl, and Jones, Consortium for Policy Research in Education).

PEER-TO-PEER OBSERVATION. This blog post from ASCD faculty member Jason Flom,“Peer-to-Peer Observation: Five Questions for Making it Work,” discusses five questions teachers should answer when developing a culture of effective peer observations and five supports leadership must offer. 

Common Core Connections

KA-BAM! COMMON CORE COMIC BOOKS PUT THE "POW" IN READING.  The non-profit organization Reading with Pictures released a set of comics aligned with the Common Core. Students can learn math from a teenage superhero, named Lumina, who faces an evil "Mathemagician," about force and motion from Dr. Sputnik, Man of Science and much, much more (Klein, Huffington Post).  

PARCC OFFICE HOURS. The PARCC states launched monthly "office hours"- a Twitter Town Hall series that will provide a set time for informal conversation and resource-sharing between PARCC staff members and educators in the field. The next session, “Access for All,” will be held October 23 from 5-6 pm ET. Learn more.

SUPS SUPPORT COMMON CORE ASSESSMENTS. Arianna Prothero of EdWeek reports that "about two-thirds of district superintendents say states should stick with their Common-Core testing consortia, while 16 percent remain on the fence over the issue, according to results from a new survey." Learn more. Download the Gallup survey results.

dandelion plant

Good Stuff for Eduwonks

Below are highlights of some of ED's most recent grant announcements.

FULBRIGHT HAYS. $4.3 million in grants for Fulbright Hays international education programs. The grants will be made to 49 institutions and organizations in 24 states and the District of Columbia: Learn more

ARTS EDUCATION. $13.4 million to 34 organizations to help arts educators grow and improve arts instruction, and share effective models of arts in education that support student achievement in the arts and other areas. Learn more.

STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES. More than $121 million in grants to improve the outcomes of individuals with disabilities—from cradle through career. The investments are aimed at promoting inclusion, equity and opportunity for all children and adults with disabilities to help ensure their economic self-sufficiency, independent living and full community participation. Learn more.

PREPARING AND KEEPING TURNAROUND PRINCIPALS. $20 million to support principals in turnaround schools. Learn more.

EXPANDNG HIGH-QUALITY CHARTERS. $39.7 million for 27 grants to expand high quality charter schools, and open new charter schools across the nation. These grants will support charter schools’ efforts to increase high-need students’ success, especially in under-served areas, in 12 states. Learn more.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE. 269 grants, totaling $63,354,605 to institutions of higher education to strengthen the capacity and performance of American education in foreign languages, international and area studies, teacher preparation, and international business education. Learn more.

“If you go to any college basketball game anywhere in the nation, the court is going to be the same width, the same length and the hoop is going to be same height – and that’s all the Iowa Core outlines for us."

2014 Iowa State Teacher of the Year Jane Schmidt in an interview in the Daily Nonpariel (Stewart).

Quote to Note


Is Educational Technology Widening Gaps?

In "Educational Technology isn't Leveling the Playing Field," Annie Murphy Paul of Slate asserts that educational technology does not benefit disadvantaged students, and it may widen gaps. It's worth a read for the questions it raises. 

Teaching Ambassador Fellow James Liou, who works in ED's Office of Educational Technology, agrees with the primary point of the article, that “tech is not the great equalizer." However, he and his colleagues insist that just because technology isn’t a silver bullet for everyone, it is a powerful tool for increasing equity if used in the right way.  

Liou says the question we should be asking is, “What do we want learning to look like, and what role does technology play to support this vision?” He agrees that we must address concerns about the digital divide raised in the article. In addition, he points to opportunities provided through the President’s ConnectED Initiative and services like to make sure all students have access to broadband and devices to expand learning opportunities at school and home.

Students' Corner

Tools for Students

EARTH SCIENCE WEEK CONTESTS. Students can enter any of these three contests in honor of Earth Science week, October 12 - 18: Photography Contest (all ages), Visual Arts Contest (grades k-5), and Essay Contest (grades 6-12). Selected entries for each contest will win $300 and a copy of AGI’s Geoscience HandbookThe entry deadline for all three contests is Oct. 17, 2014.

STUDENT LOAN MISTAKES I WISH I HAD KNOWN. Before you’re overwhelmed by student loan repayments, take a look at some of the lessons learned and tools from someone who has traveled that path (Callahan, Homeroom).

sticky notepad

Teachers' Notes

• PROFESSIONAL LEARNING REIMAGINED. This digital issue of Educational Leadership, “Professional Learning: Reimagined,” is available and free all month from ASCD. The articles feature such topics as professional learning communities, Edcamps, and classroom observation.

• THE POWER OF EXPECTATIONS. A Center for American Progress report, The Power of the Pygmalion Effect, by Ulrich Boser, Megan Wilhelm, and Robert Hanna, makes the case that people do better when more is expected of them. In education circles, this is called the Pygmalion Effect, and the research for this report suggests that there is an important and direct link between teacher expectations and future educational attainment. The conclusion: education leaders need to pay attention to the standards’ implementation to ensure that they create higher expectations for students. Read more about the study's findings that teachers expect less from black and Hispanic students in EdWeekHuffington Post and The Rundown (PBS).

• Rx FOR THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP. Washington remains one of the few states where the achievement gap is actually growing. To examine that problem, Teachers United, an organization that develops dedicated educators to become leaders for excellence and equity in Washington’s schools, proposed innovative solutions to that challenge. In their new report, Intentionality: Strategic Preparation and Development to Retain Our Most Effective Teachers, they explore preparation, professional development, and retention because these elements are critical to building and sustaining a high quality teaching workforce.

• HOW TO BE A MILLIONAIRE. Enter the Samsung Solve For Tomorrow contest for a chance to win a share of $2,000,000 in technology and prizes for your school. Teachers and students with innovative ideas for how to use STEM to solve an environmental challenge in their local communities may want to participate. You’ll also be eligible for the Environmental Sustainability Innovation Award – an additional $25,000 in Samsung tech. Learn more.  

• STEM'S LATEST DARLING? ROBOTICS. This interesting article in the Boston Globe reports how schools in Boston, Mass. and across the US are “deciding it’s worth the investment to add course work in robotics” in order to promote STEM education and prepare students for a technologically advanced workforce. Read more (Fitzgerald). 

• A DAY IN THE LIFE. Last week, quite a few readers clicked links to videos featuring a day in the life of an Argentinian teacher  and a Belgian teacher. Since then, Education International has released the full-length video with many more stories of teachers across the globe, all of whom have a compelling story to tell (41 minutes).

• BETTER HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES, BETTER ECONOMY. President Obama extolled the progress in America’s schools and the connection to the growing economy  in a recent speech at Northwestern University.  Read portions of his remarks in which he very clearly articulates the link between education and economic growth (Homeroom).

• MEANINGFUL PRAISE. 2010 National Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown Wessling explains that if teachers go beyond saying something is “great,” they can make feedback and praise more meaningful to students. In her blog, 25 Alternatives to Using the Word “Great,” she urges teachers to come up with their own alternative phrases (Teaching Channel).

Emerging Research


The Center for Public Education has issued a report indicating that of the 21 percent of the high school class of 2004 that didn’t enroll in college, 67 percent began high school believing they would attend. Many (46 percent) have parents whose highest level of education was a high school diploma, and most say they took fewer academic courses than their college-going peers, as opposed to vocational courses.

open book

Recommended Reading

• CHARTER SCHOOLS STATE CHECK-UPS. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has issued a report that ranks the “health” of the public charter school movement in 25 states and the District of Columbia. The report covers 11 indicators of growth, innovation and quality, and highlights states where public charter schools are achieving notable gains for an increasing number of students enrolled, particularly for those historically under-served by our nation’s public education system. It also identifies the states where public charter schools have yet to live up to their promise. The District of Columbia and Louisiana received the highest rankings, while Oregon and Nevada ranked 25 and 26.

WHY THIS EDUCATOR'S TOUGH EVALUATION MADE HIM A BETTER TEACHER. The teachers at ED love this refreshing piece by Denver, Colo. social studies teacher Tom Bergen. Bergen writes that his early experience with teacher evaluation makes him sweat "just thinking and writing about it. Having gone through his school's new evaluation system, Bergen confesses, "For the first time in my career I feel like I’m working with a teacher evaluation system that is fair, clear, and growth-oriented." 

Questions or comments about The Teachers Edition? Send them to ED's Teacher Liaison, Laurie Calvert:

Nashville, Tenn.

Top 5 Quotes

Wisdom from educators heard by ED

5. “I wonder how technology can support us in what we already do, instead of being just another new thing to figure out?” (Teacher, Nashville, Tenn.)

4. “How do we create a cultural shift where the general public’s idea is that education is truly an investment and not an expense?” (Teacher, Nashville, Tenn.)

3. "Principals who are moved a lot by their district don't make lasting change." (Principal, Ocala, Fla.)

2. “At the end of the day, we teach children. They love to laugh and be silly and have time to learn through play. I feel like in educational policy, this often gets forgotten and we’re trying to force students to be something that they aren’t.” (Teacher, Dunwoody, Ga.)

1. “Teacher leadership is the most powerful force in creating school change.” (Teacher, Chattanooga, Tenn.)