‘Reaching Out More Widely -Posts’ Posts

 

Yet Another Great Atlanta Teacher Portrayed

Read full article  | Comments Off on Yet Another Great Atlanta Teacher Portrayed

Yeah, I’ve been working away on planning for the TEDxWellsStreetED event in Chicago, scheduled for Sept. 28, so it’s been quiet here at Teachers Speak Up. But I saw yet another great Atlanta teacher portrayed by Peter Smagorinsky in the Atlanta Journal Constitution blog hosted by reporter Maureen Downey. So please read about Atlanta teacher Dave Winter. But as Smagorinsky points out, he’s not unusual even though he’s won many awards — there are loads of teachers like him everywhere.

So even if you’re hesitant to brag about your own great teaching, you can pen a portrait of an outstanding colleague. Do this NOW, before the busy-ness of the coming school year closes in.

And do it because school districts like Chicago’s are de-funding strong public schools at a disastrous rate.

Need help getting your story into the public media? Contact me here and I’ll help you.

TEDxWellsStreetED on Teacher Voice is Coming Sept 28

Read full article  | Comments Off on TEDxWellsStreetED on Teacher Voice is Coming Sept 28

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’ve been writing fewer posts lately. The reason: I’ve been a little busy leading a team to organize a TEDx talks event. TEDxWellsStreetED on Teacher Voice is coming Sept 28 in Chicago. Our theme: “Exploring Teacher Voice Beyond the Classroom.” Our purpose:

This event will feature a wide range of speakers sharing powerful stories, ideas, and proposals about teaching and learning, and the role of teachers’ voices in education policies. Our aim is to better inform the public and decision-makers about the important work teachers do and the impact of practices and policies — existing ones or those proposed by the speakers — on the classroom. And we hope the talks will encourage more educators to speak out and join the local and national conversations on public education issues.

The event is named after the 2nd superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, who served 1856-1864 and worked to replace rote learning with “a variety of intellectual and physical recreations,” and to reach out to immigrant populations.

We invite Chicago teachers to apply to speak at the event. We seek inspiring, solutions-oriented speakers with stories and ideas about effectiveness and in the classroom and teacher leadership — not just political arguments, as justified as those may be. Talks will be maximum 15 min. long, and will be video-ed and uploaded on YouTube. The invitation links to an online application form.

In addition to teacher speakers, a variety of Chicago citizens will provide perspectives on teachers’ communication with various community constituencies.

More on this to come!

More Teacher Voices Are Making Themselves Heard

Read full article  | Comments Off on More Teacher Voices Are Making Themselves Heard

So the blogger Eduwonk has noticed that more teacher voices are making themselves heard — through advocacy groups like Educators 4 Excellence. You or I might not agree with all of the stands that they take, but these are teachers speaking up, 7500 in all, in Los Angeles, Minnesota, and New York. They form teams to study issues and write recommendation reports on them, in each of their areas. Eduwonk especially appreciates that these teachers are busy proposing solutions to education challenges — as compared to the politicians who make policies without consulting teachers who have expertise on the issues, and then rescind them in mid-flight, or fail to come to agreements to achieve anything at all.

So take a hint! contact E4E about creating a chapter in your community. Or start pulling together a teachers’ education policy group of your own. Yeah, it takes work. But public education needs SOMEONE — lots of us, really — to speak for it.

And thanks to Marilyn Hollman for reminding me about this group and noticing the Eduwonk post.

Another Educator Who Promotes Teacher Voice

Read full article  | Comments Off on Another Educator Who Promotes Teacher Voice

I’m back after summer travel & work with our Illinois Writing Project Summer Leadership Institute — to find lots of news on the Teachers Speak Up front.

Here’s just one item for people to keep on their radar: another educator who promotes teacher voice — teacher/blogger Lillie Marshall proposes to form a “teacher PR corps.” So read her post, comment there (as I’m about to do) to encourage her, and let’s see this get going!

NPR In Florida Is Highlighting Teacher Perspectives

Read full article  | Comments Off on NPR In Florida Is Highlighting Teacher Perspectives

It can be challenging to get teacher voices into the public eye and ear. So we were especially pleased to learn how NPR in Florida is highlighting teacher perspectives in a series of reports by Miami-Dade teacher and education analyst Jeremy Glazer. His latest piece describes how a fellow teacher, now retired, recalls discovering the desire of her struggling students to read real books instead of plowing through the shortened, cleaned-up stories in a textbook. As Glazer observes,

Whenever advocates call for measuring teacher value beyond the test, there is a response by testing proponents that this other stuff is too soft or too touchy-feely. They say it isn’t rigorous. It isn’t academic

. . . The experience Ms Roberts and her students had was an intensely academic experience; it was part of what good English teaching is. And while it may or may not have had any measurable influence on their subsequent test scores, such experiences must be a part of what we talk about when we talk about good teaching.

It’s so important for the public and policy-makers to hear this!

Writing Prompt at National Writing Project iAnthology

Read full article  | Comments Off on Writing Prompt at National Writing Project iAnthology

Now that the long July 4th holiday is over, I’m back and up to no good. I just posted a writing prompt at National Writing Project iAnthology site, inviting teachers to write about a student who changed. I hope you’ll visit the site, but if you aren’t already a member you’ll need to sign up (which is a good thing) to read the prompt, posted in the “Writing Into the Week” group.

To be helpful to the iAnthology writers, I’m re-posting the minilesson on writing a teacher story about a student’s transformation, something I provided in a post here a few weeks ago. This process would also work well for someone writing about a great teacher he or she had. Here it is.

  • First, it’s a good idea to think about the audience and purpose for your story. If it’s going to a wider public (which I think is really important) here’s what I suggest: Avoid education jargon.  It needs to be vivid and grab people’s attention. It ought to have a clear point that non-educators can relate to. And it shouldn’t sound whiny – sure we have plenty of obstacles, but let’s inform people about what good teaching really entails and why it matters.
  • Now, think of some very specific, concrete moment in your teaching experience — a student who was a real challenge but who made a breakthrough during the year, or a class that was disengaged and you found a way to reach them. Want examples? Visit my blog on the Patch.com Evanston news site for three great stories. Or read this piece at Education Week Teacher just the other day.
  • Next, try to picture one or several very specific moments when this student or class was struggling, resisting, or having a lightbulb go off. One of my favorite examples is in teacher Megan Allen’s testimony to Congress. Write a chunk of narrative to describe this moment (or moments). Ralph Fletcher’s books on teaching writing talk a lot about the power of focusing on such moments.
  • Next step: Talk about what you learned from this professional experience — or what you’d like a reader to learn from it, or what it tells us about education policies or practices. This chunk will probably go at or near the end of your piece. You could hint about it at the start, but don’t go into a lot of theory or explanation there because that will bog things down.
  • Finally, there will be some trimmings to add — introducing yourself and/or the scene at the start, adding a punch-line at the end, some connective tissue along the way.

Outstanding Teacher in the News

Read full article  | Comments Off on Outstanding Teacher in the News

We were away for a few days, escaping from all the angst in the education world. We’ve come home to find an outstanding teacher in the news. Danielle Bero, a New York HS teacher is not only featured, but the story celebrates her strategies to engage struggling students by connecting schoolwork with their lives — something that some standards advocates regard as frivolous. Danielle was nominated for a “Hometown Heroes in Education” award, a one-time competition by the NY Daily News. New Yorkers, we hope you find ways to keep such recognition going more regularly, so that your community can appreciate the hard but rewarding work that their teachers do.

We will write to the story’s author, journalist Ben Chapman, to find out how this got into the paper. We need to learn how to make this happen!

Classroom or School Videos Can Tell a Powerful Story

Read full article  | Comments Off on Classroom or School Videos Can Tell a Powerful Story

Not so excited about writing to describe your great work with kids? Are you more of a visual learner & communicator? Classroom or school videos can tell a powerful story as this one from Whittier Middle School in Poland Maine very nicely shows. As you’ll see if you watch the students spent 8 weeks researching history topics. So the work is in-depth — and the kids have a lot of choice about what to investigate. It’s especially interesting that the teachers combine these valuable approaches with the Common Core standards focus on argument. Even better: the Maine Dept. of Education has featured the video, so it’s getting wider attention.

Nothing to fear in putting this kind of information out there for the public to see. And if you don’t have time to make the video, I bet there are plenty of kids in the school with the skills and energy to film it for you.

More Voices Are Urging Teachers to Project Their Voices

Read full article  | Comments Off on More Voices Are Urging Teachers to Project Their Voices

More and more voices are urging teachers to project their voices into the public debates on education. We hope teachers hear them and are encouraged to speak out, so permit us to connect you with several good discussions.

First, I took part in a Google Hangout panel on this topic Wed. night, June 19th. You can see & hear it on YouTube at your leisure. You can also see the chat that took place simultaneously at the Teachers Teaching Teachers page on edtechtalk.com . I was joined by a very savvy group of educators plus one journalist who shared their strategies and struggles in getting heard by legislators and government leaders. Katherine Schulten, editor of the NY Times Learning Network website was especially helpful about getting journalists’ attention:

  • Don’t complain about tests – they hear that all the time. But you can describe what it’s like in the moment, as kids are struggling with the tests.
  • Start with a lively story from your immediate experience in the classroom. That brings to life what the reporters & readers don’t get to see.
  • Find a hook – something already in the news that your experience and ideas can shed some light on.

But we’ll try to get Katherine to tell this to us in her own words!

The second discussion is with the Education Week – Teacher Teaching Ahead Roundtable. Five teachers from around the country talk about their attempts and successes at getting to the decision-making table. As Jennifer Martin so cogently puts it, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” What a great way to condense into one smart sentence what this whole Teachers Speak Up website is about!

Mini Lesson on Writing a Teacher Story

Read full article  | Comments Off on Mini Lesson on Writing a Teacher Story

I urge teachers to write about their teaching to build more support for their work, and get their stories out to the public in some way. But many ask, “What should I write about? How do I start?” Perhaps this is because so many of us have had our voices silenced, as one teacher describes in a recent Education Week Teacher article.

So here’s a mini lesson on writing a teacher story – at least one way to do it. This would also work well for someone writing about a great teacher he or she had.

  • First, it’s a good idea to think about the audience and purpose for your story. If it’s going to a wider public (which I think is really important) here’s what I suggest: Avoid education jargon.  It needs to be vivid and grab people’s attention. It ought to have a clear point that non-educators can relate to. And it shouldn’t sound whiny – sure we have plenty of obstacles, but let’s inform people about what good teaching really entails and why it matters.
  • Now, think of some very specific, concrete moment in your teaching experience — a student who was a real challenge but who made a breakthrough during the year, or a class that was disengaged and you found a way to reach them. Want examples? Visit my blog on the Patch.com Evanston news site for three great stories. Or read this piece at Education Week Teacher just the other day.
  • Next, try to picture one or several very specific moments when this student or class was struggling, resisting, or having a lightbulb go off. One of my favorite examples is in teacher Megan Allen’s testimony to Congress. Write a chunk of narrative to describe this moment (or moments). Ralph Fletcher’s books on teaching writing talk a lot about the power of focusing on such moments.
  • Next step: Talk about what you learned from this professional experience — or what you’d like a reader to learn from it, or what it tells us about education policies or practices. This chunk will probably go at or near the end of your piece. You could hint about it at the start, but don’t go into a lot of theory or explanation there because that will bog things down.
  • Finally, there will be some trimmings to add — introducing yourself and/or the scene at the start, adding a punch-line at the end, some connective tissue along the way.

I’m sure there are other approaches, but I’ve seen this work really powerfully. So now write your piece and send it to me at teachersspeakup1@gmail.com !