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Instructor Magazine, 124 Years Old, Is Now Scholastic Teacher

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Scholastic Inc. has changed the name of its flagship 124-year-old publication for classroom educators from Instructor to Scholastic Teacher.

"We've been kicking around the change for a couple of years, but we've been nervous," Tara Welty, the editor-in-chief of the magazine, said in an interview. "The teachers we talked to really don't call themselves 'instructor' anymore. The title is maybe associated with fitness instructors or higher education."

The new title may have somewhat of a familiar ring to some in the field of K-12 education. For several years beginning in 1989, a print publication called Teacher Magazine was published by Editorial Projects in Education Inc., the Bethesda, Md.-based publisher of Education Week. There remains a separate Teacher channel on Education Week's website.

Welty was quick to point out that New York City-based Scholastic had formerly put out a publication titled Scholastic Teacher.

"We weren't too concerned about any confusion" in changing Instructor to Scholastic Teacher, Welty said, "because we felt the Scholastic brand really distinguishes it."

scholasticteacher.jpgThe re-titled magazine, whose first issue is due out soon, features Scholastic's corporate logo over a much larger font with the name "Teacher."

Editorial Projects in Education declined to comment.

Scholastic is a public company with $1.64 billion in annual revenue. Its businesses includes a children's publishing division with titles such as Clifford the Big Red Dog, Goosebumps, and the Magic School Bus. It is the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games books.

Its education division includes classroom magazines such as Junior Scholastic, DynaMath, and Scholastic [email protected], in addition to the former Instructor.

The newly named Scholastic Teacher got its start in 1891 as Normal Instructor, derived from the once-widespread name for teacher-training institutions—normal schools. A feature in the new issue of the magazine outlines the history, including 1903 advice for teachers to always carry a linen handkerchief. 

"Remember, you are a lady before you are a teacher," the magazine advised.

The magazine's title was tweaked several times over the years, and when Scholastic acquired it in 1990, it went from "The Instructor" to "Instructor."

Its main competitors originally were the magazines of the national teachers' unions, as well as those of curriculum or subject-matter associations. Education Week's publisher started Teacher Magazine in 1989 with the aim of offering a more policy-oriented journal for classroom teachers. It lasted in print form until 2007.

The real competition for such publications has come from the Internet, which offers all manner of content and ways for teachers to connect with each other.

Instructor reduced its frequency several years ago from eight to six editions a year. It reports a paid circulation of 106,000.

The new issue includes stories on teaching gifted students, crowd-funding the classroom, and a Q-and-A with Chelsea Clinton on how to inspire young people. And, as always, there are lesson plans and craft ideas, such as "Thanksgiving Math"—using grocery ads to plan a holiday meal within a particular budget.

"We read like a consumer magazine, but we have useful information," Welty said. "You can read it today and use it in your classroom tomorrow."

"We tend to not get into the politics too much," she added. "They don't need to get it from us. That doesn't mean we don't talk about tough topics," she said, citing recent or upcoming stories about teacher burnout, having difficult conversations with your co-workers, and how to deal with particular situations with parents.

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