Listening to Teachers and Building Capacity to Support Good Teaching

Listening to Teachers and Building Capacity to Support Good Teaching

This article was featured on Education Week Teacher on November 18, 2014: When Chelsia Berry, STEM academic coordinator and biology teacher at Central High School in Prince George’s County, Md., participated in the October 6 Good Teaching Summit put together by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, she discussed her definition of good teaching. For her that included words such as “collaboration, professional-learning...

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A Step in the Right Direction for Educational Equity

A Step in the Right Direction for Educational Equity

The release today of guidance for state plans to ensure equity in teacher quality distribution by the U.S. Department of Education is a step in the right direction. This call to address a requirement that has been overlooked for a decade indicates a turning of the tide in the discussion about how to support and improve teaching in all schools, for all children. We are excited about the potential of the state plans, and would like to join with...

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“None of us is as smart as all of us.”- A guest blog by Maryland State Superintendent & NCTAF Commissioner Dr. Lillian Lowery

“None of us is as smart as all of us.”- A guest blog by Maryland State Superintendent & NCTAF Commissioner Dr. Lillian Lowery

I truly believe this statement made famous by Ken Blanchard. If we want to see sustainable change in our education systems across the country, it will not happen through top-down directives. There must be collaboration with our many partners in local school systems, state organizations and national groups. Our teachers are working in a time of transition, and the pace of progress is swift. In Maryland, we have deliberately and collaboratively...

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…And the Word of the Day is Collaboration

…And the Word of the Day is Collaboration

There was a meeting of the minds among experts from national, state, and local school levels on Oct. 6th at NCTAF’s first “Good Teaching Summit,” which focused on fostering strategies for teacher success. The Summit stage was set with a backdrop that focused on three main strategies: project-based learning, professional learning communities and outside content partners. The underpinning for all of this is collaboration. Since its founding,...

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Teachers are Trusted – Let’s Make Sure They Know It

Teachers are Trusted – Let’s Make Sure They Know It

It’s that time of year again – back to school for millions of kids and teachers.  Believe it or not, most teachers don’t sleep well the night before school starts either.  The same excitement and anxiety that kids are feeling, teachers are feeling too.  But add to that the responsibility of needing a deep understanding of the whole child and his/her development throughout the school year, as well as a teacher’s desire to meet that...

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Equitable or Fair?

Equitable or Fair?

Sometimes jargon is used to mask inaction. That is why Rick Hess’ blog post “10 School Reform Phrases That Should Trigger Your BS Detector,” struck a chord with me. While the blog had a comical tone, it was also a stark reminder to those of us engaged in education to be very clear about what we mean if we truly want to effect change in our nation’s schools. One of the phrases mentioned in the blog, “the equitable distribution of...

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It’s Time to Solve the Teacher Turnover Problem

It’s Time to Solve the Teacher Turnover Problem

Retaining the best and brightest teachers in the profession remains a sore spot for our nation’s schools. Although teacher recruitment initiatives have expanded, there has not been a coordinated, systemic approach to teacher retention. In NCTAF’s 2003 report, “No Dream Denied: A Pledge to America’s Children,” the findings detailed the chronic problem of teacher turnover, especially in hard-to-staff schools, and the negative...

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National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future Applauds FCC Ruling on E-Rate

National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future Applauds FCC Ruling on E-Rate

The National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future (NCTAF) applauds today’s FCC vote that will modernize the E-Rate program.  The E-Rate program has been foundational for almost two decades in ensuring that all students have access to advanced telecommunications capabilities.  This is essential as we organize schools for success and prepare students to be college and career ready. Quality broadband is critical for allowing teachers...

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Supporting the Future of Teaching

Supporting the Future of Teaching

Twenty years ago, in our report “What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future,” NCTAF recommended that teacher preparation and professional development be reinvented. NCTAF led the charge for organizing teacher education around standards for students and teachers; developing extended, graduate-level teacher preparation programs; and creating mentoring programs for beginning teachers. To gain some insight into how these recommendations...

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Replacing “Sink or Swim” with “Structure and Support” for Beginning Teachers

Replacing “Sink or Swim” with “Structure and Support” for Beginning Teachers

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recently released their report, “Beginners in the Classroom: What the Changing Demographics of Teaching Mean for Schools, Students, and Society,” which explores how the current teaching force is less experienced than in years past, and calls for greater attention to the issues of inadequate support facing new teachers. NCTAF’s 2010 study “Who Will Teach? Experience Matters” warned...

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Teachers Having Their Say: Collaboration is the Key

Teachers Having Their Say: Collaboration is the Key

From novice teachers to veterans, teachers of all experience levels desire to collaborate with their colleagues. Last week’s Remodeling Literacy Learning Together report from the National Center on Literacy Education (NCLE) calls attention to this demand for collaborative planning time as an integral tool for teachers’ success in the classroom. These days, teachers are: Being asked to implement new standards and assessments without always...

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What Matters Most About the Common Core State Standards

What Matters Most About the Common Core State Standards

The Common Core State Standards offer a chance to change the teaching paradigm so that teachers can work across the disciplines, teach with more real world experiences, and encourage students to learn together.  However, teachers need to be empowered and supported in this new journey to adopt these standards.  They need time to understand and adapt their teaching to reflect what they are expecting students to learn.  They need to be...

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Celebrating Best Practices at Digital Learning Day 2014

Celebrating Best Practices at Digital Learning Day 2014

Whether we’re talking about flipped classrooms, MOOCs, mobile apps for learning, TED talks, or Skype or Google Hangouts with scientists and engineers, students and teachers are realizing a world of potential for effective digital learning. Technology allows them to go beyond the walls of the traditional classroom and interact in a way that was once impossible. On February 5th, educators, policy makers, and tech stakeholders gathered at the...

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NCTAF Statement on Retirement of Congressman George Miller

NCTAF Statement on Retirement of Congressman George Miller

During his 40-year career, Congressman George Miller has been deeply committed to what matters most for America’s children: quality teaching in schools organized for success.  Building on that commitment he has been a fierce advocate for effective teaching in schools serving low-income students and children of color across the country.  NCTAF is fortunate to count itself among the many education organizations that he worked with to craft...

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NCTAF Will Stay the Course to Transform the Teaching Profession

NCTAF Will Stay the Course to Transform the Teaching Profession

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead This is one of my favorite quotes. It rings as true today, as when Mead first said it more than 50 years ago. In my 12 years as the President of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, I have been fortunate to work with a dedicated team of people, who are and have been...

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Reimagine Teaching & Learning with Design Thinking

Reimagine Teaching & Learning with Design Thinking

The Nueva School, located in Hillsborough, California, is nationally recognized for its progressive learning environments that foster creativity, innovation, and design-thinking to impart 21st century skills to its students. This past fall, I was able to attend the school’s Innovative Learning Conference, “Shifting the Paradigm,” and found the school to live up to its reputation. From the moment I entered the campus, I recognized that this...

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A Networked Improvement Community for NGSS Assessment Development

A Networked Improvement Community for NGSS Assessment Development

A team from NCTAF recently participated in the second Explorers’ Workshop at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The two-day workshop brought together 13 teams representing national organizations, university initiatives, and local education funds. We were all there to learn how improvement science and the specific tools and processes of a Networked Improvement Community could be used to systematically solve complex...

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Elementary Students Teach Peers through Technology and Teamwork

Elementary Students Teach Peers through Technology and Teamwork

Question: What do you get when you put an exceptional teacher together with technology, a desire for collaboration, and a passion for making a difference?  Answer: Motivated, enthusiastic students who want to reach even higher and make learning an active and relevant experience. Recently, I had a wonderful opportunity as part of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) Leadership Summit to be part of a “Student Voices”...

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“Adding Value” to Assessment

“Adding Value” to Assessment

It was a familiar refrain from program evaluators at the recent EVAL 2013 conference held by the American Evaluation Association in DC – funders want to see how a professional development program increases student achievement on test scores. On the surface it sounds like a fair expectation, but are test scores the best measure of a PD program? Well, it depends on the program and its learning goals. Here are some types of questions raised at...

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