Teacher Shortages: What’s the Problem?

Teacher Shortages: What’s the Problem?

The issue of teacher shortages has again become a focal point in media and policy discussions. The focus is needed – many of our highest need schools continue to struggle with recruiting and retaining the best teachers, particularly in the areas of math, science, special education, and bilingual education. When we survey the current education landscape to see if every child has access to great teaching, we find that some progress has been...

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Turning the System Upside Down

Turning the System Upside Down

The National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future is calling for educational systems’ changes that put in place the conditions that allow teachers to excel in their practice. The Commission recognizes that support for and investment in teaching can allow this country to fulfill a promise that every student has access to great teaching and learning regardless of their background, zip code or learning ability. These changes need to...

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A Challenge to the Business Community About What Matters Now

A Challenge to the Business Community About What Matters Now

Patrick S. Finn is a NCTAF Commissioner and a Senior Executive, Consultant, Advisor and Investor A few years ago, I attended the White House Science Fair, where I had the honor to spend a few moments with President Obama on the topic of education in the U.S. He was interested in corporate America’s focus on education. I shared my view that there are 4 reasons why improving education in the U.S. is so important for the future of America...

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#WhyITeach

#WhyITeach

By Joanna Schimizzi, Hope Street Fellow & Biology Teacher, North Carolina Virtual Public Schools As teachers head back to their classrooms this fall, they will be juggling many responsibilities. You can just see teachers as they set up their classrooms: laminating posters, moving desks, running copies and making bulletin boards. As teachers spend countless hours getting ready for students, they are often thinking “What matters right...

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What Do Teachers Need in Professional Learning?

What Do Teachers Need in Professional Learning?

What if we put teachers in charge of their professional learning? That’s a question 2012 national teacher of the year Rebecca Mieliwocki asked in the Burbank Unified School District where she works as a middle school English teacher and leads professional learning. What she found when the district did just that, was that the learning fostered “an awesome sense of organic accountability that I haven’t seen before,” she...

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Let’s End Professional Development as We Know It

Let’s End Professional Development as We Know It

By Jal Mehta, NCTAF Commissioner & Associate Professor in Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education   Read Jal Mehta’s powerful new post in Education Week‘s “Thinking Deeply About Equity” blog entitled “Let’s End Professional Development as We Know It.” In it, Jal argues for a different and better way forward: embedded professional learning that is purposeful, problem-driven, and...

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A Collective Call to Action to Ensure EVERY Child Succeeds

A Collective Call to Action to Ensure EVERY Child Succeeds

When Ivan was 17 years old he sat in the office of his high school principal hoping his older cousin Sharon would come to defend his right for one more chance, one more break from his dismal education experience. It was only a few short weeks before graduation, and the Puerto Rican student living in a poor community in Delaware had just been informed that he would not be graduating because he didn’t meet all of his senior requirements. He...

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What it Takes to Shift the Professional Learning Paradigm

What it Takes to Shift the Professional Learning Paradigm

Change takes courage. It threatens norms, challenges systems, and requires persistence and resilience that exhaust even the best of us. But change is often needed to move forward, to make real progress. Working with a group of educational leaders last week, it became clear to me that within the educational community, we will need real courage to challenge existing paradigms, to rethink assumptions, and to redesign professional learning so that...

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NNSTOY Teachers Prefer Common Core Tests Over State Assessments

NNSTOY Teachers Prefer Common Core Tests Over State Assessments

When the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) released findings of their study comparing Common Core assessments with new and existing state tests, they brought into the testing conversation the much-needed views of exceptional, practicing teachers. Their findings are enlightening, and they provide critical information to state and district leaders currently reviewing and revising testing plans. In The Right Trajectory, NNSTOY...

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A Window into Teacher Agency: What Educators Say about Effective Professional Learning

A Window into Teacher Agency: What Educators Say about Effective Professional Learning

Last week educators in the nation’s capital pulled back the drapes and gave school leaders insight into a critical aspect of effective professional learning: educator agency. In a webinar co-hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education and the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF), educators shared models for success and urged principals and system leaders to improve teachers’ ownership of — and responsibility...

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New Teaching Quality White Paper

New Teaching Quality White Paper

Today, as we recognize World Teachers’ Day, it is quite fitting that the Transforming Teaching Project at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education has released a white paper describing a policy vision for teaching. From Quicksand to Solid Ground: Building a Foundation to Support Quality Teaching Across the United States has a strong focus on the importance of systemic alignment and coherence and was developed collaboratively with a group of...

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The Formula for a Successful School Year

The Formula for a Successful School Year

academic mindset creative, engaging, and relevant lessons planned ready to welcome every student where they are classroom ready for learning teacher ready for learning Just like millions of students each year, teachers are also underway during these first weeks of school preparing for the year ahead. They are reviewing the data that they have on their students and creating a plan of action that meets each student’s individual learning...

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Teacher Voice: 11 Lessons from Year 11

Teacher Voice: 11 Lessons from Year 11

Guest blog by NCTAF Commissioner Geneviève DeBose, which originally appeared on her blog Back to the Point. You can follow her on Twitter @GenevieveDeBose.     I finished what felt like my first year of teaching today. It was actually year eleven but after working in the education policy world – outside of the classroom – for the last three years, this year felt very much like year one. It was my hardest teaching year yet...

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International Benchmarking: A Critical Tool for Learning and Improving

International Benchmarking: A Critical Tool for Learning and Improving

When I was a teacher, my students would sometimes say things like “I’m not good at math” or “I can’t read,” and I used to wonder how they came to these conclusions that seemed so final. Yet the impression was there, and the statements outweighed any efforts to have them go back and look at what they could learn and where progress had been made. Along these same lines, the results from international benchmarking are often...

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Supporting Great Teaching for Personalized Learning

Supporting Great Teaching for Personalized Learning

What do we need to do to support personalized learning – learning that is student-centered and based on innovative practice and proficiency? How do we support teaching to promote personalized learning? Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a convening on the district conditions for scale, facilitated by KnowledgeWorks and Nellie Mae Education Foundation, which began to address these very questions. KnowledgeWorks brought together...

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District Conditions of Instruction and Professional Development: Craft and Support

District Conditions of Instruction and Professional Development: Craft and Support

Guest blog by Matt Williams, KnowledgeWorks Vice President of Policy and Advocacy  @mattawilliams So what do the District Conditions for Scale: A Practical Guide to Scaling Personalized Learning have to do with teaching? Two of the conditions deal directly with teaching, instruction, and professional development; but personalized learning will only be effective and scalable with great educators. That is the truth, only educators can bring...

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Moving Beyond Pilot Phase: District Conditions for Scaling Personalized Learning

Moving Beyond Pilot Phase: District Conditions for Scaling Personalized Learning

Guest blog by Matt Williams, KnowledgeWorks Vice President of Policy and Advocacy  @mattawilliams Over the past few years there have been numerous publications, reports, and briefs released that focus on the elements of an innovative school from a programmatic and a policy standpoint. These have helped to shape what practitioners and policymakers expect to see in innovative, student-centered, or personalized learning environments. Personalized...

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NCTAF’s New Call for a Collective Effort for Great Teaching

NCTAF’s New Call for a Collective Effort for Great Teaching

At the end of January, NCTAF held its first stakeholders meeting with 34 leading education organizations to discuss the need for a unified effort to support great teaching for all students. It is clear that our country is in an unprecedented time of change for education, as all states implement higher college and career standards; schools and districts realize the importance of supporting teacher leaders and incorporating teacher...

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A Renewed Focus in 2015

A Renewed Focus in 2015

At the beginning of every New Year, there is a sense of a fresh start, a renewed focus or a stronger commitment related to the things that are most important to us, both individually and collectively. As an organization, the Commission believes the time is ripe to refocus the nation’s attention on our mission of ensuring that every child has access to competent, caring teaching in a school organized for success. This month, we are launching a...

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Let’s Call a Truce in 2015

Let’s Call a Truce in 2015

What if the New Year ushered in a renewed focus on how to support teachers, and a positive and constructive conversation about the teaching profession? We all want more and better educational opportunities for our children. Yet our national education conversation has become heated and divisive, particularly for teachers. Potshots are lobbed between opposing organizations that don’t solve anything and in fact, we often leave our teachers and...

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