In a Washington Post op-ed this morning, Eva Moskowitz, the founder and chief executive of the Success Charter Network, argues that class-size reduction efforts take away from schools' capacity for innovation and teacher support: Obsession with class size is causing many public schools to look like relics. We spend so much to employ lots of teachers that there isn't enough left to help these teachers be effective. According to the city's education department, New York public schools spend on average less than 3 percent of their budgets on instructional supplies and equipment (1 percent), textbooks (0.6 percent), library books ...


Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who also attended the International Summit on Teaching in New York last week, has posted a blog post highlighting positive rhetoric used by the foreign guests in reference to teachers. In a statement rarely heard these days in the United States, the Finnish Minister of Education launched the first session of last week's with the words: "We are very proud of our teachers." Her statement was so appreciative of teachers' knowledge, skills, and commitment that one of the U.S. participants later confessed that he thought she was the teacher union president, who, it turned out, ...


An incentive program aimed at bringing National Board certified teachers to high-poverty schools in Washington state is not working as intended, according to a new report from the University of Washington's Center on Reinventing Public Education. The finding comes on the heels of Gov. Christine Gregoire's proposal to suspend the bonuses paid to NBCTs—including the $5,000 they receive for having the certification and the additional $5,000 awarded to NBCTs who teach in "challenging" schools. She projects the cuts would save the state nearly $100 million in the next two years. Since the incentive program began four years...


Here's your business news of the day: TeachersPayTeachers, the website that lets teachers sell their lesson plans and materials, reportedly paid out $1 million dollars to teachers last year. To cite another measure, the company is generating $2 million in gross sales. According to Business Wire, one unnamed teacher makes as much money selling her stuff on the site as she does—well—teaching. (But then, maybe that's not saying all that much, right?) In any case, the company's apparent growth would seem to tell us two things: 1) that what teachers do and create has value; and 2) that—at...


In a post on the Harvard Business Review's Innovations in Education blog, a Harvard-trained social entrepeneur discusses an initiative his company created to improve teacher quality in India by developing a "recipe for good teaching." Part of this involved creating a 'micro-process' for teaching that essentially anatomizes the instructional protocals for different concepts. As he describes the finished product (in a sentence that kind of boggles the mind): We created a teachers' toolkit that mapped every concept in the Indian K-8 syllabus into 8000-plus detailed experiential teaching plans ... The author claims that implementing this toolkit—in addition to providing ongoing...


Live from the Celebration of Teaching and Learning Conference in New York Bullying is a serious school issue that every classroom teacher will have to confront at some point—and the presentation schedule here reflected that. I attended the last of the four bullying-related sessions, which addressed the need for schoolwide efforts to prevent cyberbullying. Patricia Agatston, who has written cyberbullying prevention curricula and is a consultant for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, explained that conventional bullying and cyberbullying have many similarities—they are both aggressive, repetitive, and difficult for the victim to defend against. But cyberbullying, which occurs through...


Live from the Celebration of Teaching and Learning Conference in New York Great friend to Teacher Kathleen Cushman gave a presentation based on her book Fires in the Mind (our last Teacher Book Club title) today—and drew quite a crowd. By the time I arrived, it was standing room only. Seems we were lucky to snag Kathleen while we could! She played some of the audio clips from the interviews she conducted for the book about what motivates and inspires kids. I also popped into a session with David Kirp, education policy expert and author of Kids First: Five...


Live from the Celebration of Teaching and Learning Conference in New York This morning, developmental psychologist Niobe Way answered questions about why boys are struggling in school. It's a topic I wrote about a few years ago, after Peg Tyre published The Trouble With Boys. Way's take on the situation is that boys experience a "crisis of connection." Stereotypical notions of masculinity assume that boys aren't expressive and don't have—or perhaps even need—close friendships. But boys both need and want deep connections, said Way. And in her research, she's found that many boys have close friendships that are...


Live from the Celebration of Teaching and Learning Conference in New York One school that's come up again and again here at the Celebration is Brockton High School in Massachusetts. The school gained nationwide attention in September, when The New York Times published an article about its remarkable turnaround. Susan Szachowicz, the school's principal, explained at an early session today that Brockton had a 75% failure rate on state tests 10 years ago. She and a group of other teachers who were dissatisfied with those results began to work on a restructuring plan. "Leadership isn't about a position," said Szachowicz, ...


Live from the Celebration of Teaching and Learning Conference in New York In a heartwarming session, which had at least one audience member in tears, popular young adult novelist Walter Dean Myers and his now 17-year-old co-author Ross Workman described the process of writing a book together. As a bit of background, Workman wrote a fan letter to Myers when he was 13. He received a staggering response: Myers suggested that the two collaborate on a novel. Four years and countless drafts over e-mail later, Kick was completed. Myers said in the session that he embarked on the project because ...


Live from the Celebration of Teaching and Learning Conference in New York Greetings from the Big Apple, where thousands of educators have convened for the 6th annual Celebration of Teaching and Learning, hosted by WNET. At a session known as the "Teachers Town Hall," led by PBS' Alison Stewart, a roomful of educators voiced their thoughts on expanded learning time, dropouts, and turnaround schools. The discussion on why students drop out of school—the only portion of the session with no panelists—was perhaps the most insightful. It was certainly the most contentious. A young teacher in the audience...


Two reports released in conjunction with the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in New York highlight the lessons the United States can take from other countries' reform efforts.


Heather Wolpert-Gawron, who was among the estimated 19,000 school employees in California who received lay-off notices this week, offers "The Ten Commandments of a Pink Slipped Teacher." No. 5 seems particulary important: Thou Shalt Not Dwell on How The System is Broken to the Point of Avoiding Your Own Reality. Heather is an award-winning middle school language arts teacher who has written widely on education and instruction, including for Teacher. Somewhat ironically—or would presciently be a better word?—she published an article with us last spring questioning the indiscriminate nature of seniority-based layoff systems: Much as we might...


Amid the ongoing debates over collective bargaining and the power of unions, teachers were (yet again) a focus of major newspaper op-ed pages yesterday: In the New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof (apparently taking a breather from the revolutions in the Mideast), blasted the "pernicious fallacy" emanating out of the nation's air waves that teachers are somehow overpaid and responsible for the nation's budget problems. In fact, he argued, if our schools are to be competitive, we need to pay teachers more—albeit at differentiated rates based on performance: Teaching is unusual among the professions in that it pays poorly...


At a White House conference yesterday, President Obama gathered parents, teachers, bullying victims, and researchers to discuss anti-bullying efforts. The president recounted that, as a kid, he was a victim of bullying himself. "With big ears and the name that I have, I wasn't immune," he said (in what's become a much-quoted sound bite from the event). But in a subsequent Huffington Post op-ed, psychologist and addiction expert Stanton Peele responded that that the conference "failed to hit the mark" and "will have zero impact." According to Peele, warnings and admonitions against bullying don't work. Kids don't usually bully people ...


Daniela Fairchild, a policy analyst for the Fordham Institute, lauds state legislative efforts to limit teachers' collective bargaining rights, but cautions fellow proponents that the resulting changes to educators' benefit packages could dramatically reduce teachers' overall compensation, thus making the profession less attractive. If we stop at altering fringe benefits, without appropriately reassessing teachers' entire salary scale and structure, we'll relegate teaching to a purgatory with neither compensation that is competitive with the private sector nor the career stability that may attract some. NYC teacher Miss Eyre responds by saying, in effect, "um, yeah": Thank God that this author reminded ...


Single-sex classrooms in public schools have been on the rise for a decade, but middle schools in Kansas are testing out single-sex lunch and recess, reports The Wichita Eagle. At several middle schools in Wichita, Kan., boys eat lunch while girls have recess and then the two groups switch. Principals told the paper the policy was put in place to eliminate "inappropriate smooching and boy-girl drama" and also to get students to finish—or at least eat—their lunches. "It seemed like 80 percent of our students were throwing away whole lunches," Michael Archibeque, principal at Pleasant Valley Middle School,...


Michael Winerip at The New York Times has a detailed yet intelligible explanation of the failures of the value-added assessment model. He uses a persuasive example: Stacey Isaacson, a University of Pennsylvania and Columbia-educated third-year teacher who works 10 ½ hour school days and gets rave reviews from her principal, fellow teachers, and students. In her first year teaching, 65 of Isaacson's 66 students scored proficient on the state's language arts test. And dozens of her students have gone onto New York City's most competitive high schools. But as Winerip explains, "According to the [value-added] formula, Ms. Isaacson ranks in the ...


In California, State Senator Mark Leno—who is one of the first openly gay men elected to the legislature—introduced the country's first bill to integrate gay people and events into school curriculums, reports the New York Times. The bill would require all history textbooks to include figures and events in gay history portrayed "in a positive light." Citing recent suicides by gay teenagers, many educators are advocating for a gay-friendly curriculum; but conservative groups have vowed to protest, according to the paper. "The homosexual activists have repeatedly been pushing for more and more in sexual curriculum when our kids...


Both Reading Is Fundamental and the National Writing Project are in jeopardy of losing federal funding permanently, after President Obama signed a temporary spending law this week that axed support for the literacy programs. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Teach for America, and New Leaders for New Schools also suffered cuts, but are (luckily for them) not as reliant on federal funds as RIF and NWP. As Alyson Klein at Education Week explains, "Technically, the cuts are only in place for the two-week time period covered under the bill. But their restoration is considered extremely unlikely, given the ...


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