Education Week - Calendar of Events & Professional Development Directory - Spring 2013 - (Page C7)
Teacher Advocate Pushes
For Professional Change
expertise. Because if we get that wrong, and the fish starts flopping around, it
has the power to destroy everything. It’s a pivotal time to get this right. That
means very clear instruction for teachers, very clear professional development,
a sense of urgency about doing it right, but not about speed in rolling it out. You
have to go slow and steady, one foot in front of the other, stop and correct course
when needed, train your teachers, coach them, get them talking to one another.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5
to eject from my classroom into administration. Because right now, that’s the only
place I can go. And I don’t know how you strengthen the profession by asking all
the good ones to leave it.
Some of your views—on differentiated pay, for example—put you at odds with the
teachers’ unions. Have you gotten pushback on this?
I think the unions want what I want. We want opportunities for great teachers,
we want excellence for every child, we want great teachers in every classroom.
And where they’re situated is in the right place, which is intelligent concern over
how we get that. So we’re simpatico in that way.
The message that the union, fairly or unfairly, gets known for is that teachers
don’t want accountability, or we don’t want results to be any part of an evaluation
system. I’m not afraid of evaluation. No teacher is. I’m afraid of the limited ruler
by which some communities want to measure me. Some would like to simply
use test scores. That ruler is too small, and that’s where the union is rightfully
concerned. We don’t differ on that.
Teacher effectiveness is very ambiguous; it’s very hard to measure. You need to
look at what the kids say about whether the teacher is effective in helping them understand material. You need to ask parents, how do you feel about this teacher? Are
they engaged with the kids? Do you feel like the assignments are relevant to kids’
lives? Do you feel like they’re going the extra mile? What does the principal say
about them after a lot of classroom observations? What do their peers think about
them? Do they reach out or do they close the door? Do they work on projects that
better their school or are they a lone wolf? Do they come in at 7:45 and leave at 3:15
or are they in it for the long haul? Do they work to plant the garden at the school?
Do they run a club? Do they teach other teachers? Then finally, what do the test
scores say? If you put all of that together, you have a really nice picture of a teacher.
What do you hope to use your platform for this year? What issues will you be
I’m very concerned about the profession. My parents were teachers, they loved
their jobs, they did it for a long time. I’m a teacher, I love it, I hope to do it for as
long as I can. I’m so crestfallen by what I see as the absolute destruction of the
American public school teacher under this system, which batters them day in
and day out. How much longer can you sustain that model where the job itself is
incredibly difficult and we’re beaten up about it every day? We’re now, for the first
time, being called names—lazy, greedy, self-entitled, unwilling to face accountability. So I want to get out there and talk to other teachers. I want to inspire
them and motivate them to remember why they’re doing this job, how incredibly
vital their power is to transform not just a child’s life but their entire school by
being a teacher leader, by staying positive, by having the courage to not teach
to the test but beyond it. So I want to be motivational, to bring some realism to
the conversation, and to do it in a positive way that motivates us to go forward.
What would you like to say to those people who claim you’re lazy, greedy, and
Come watch. Come watch. You’ve never seen a tax dollar work harder. It’s the
best bargain—and when I show you my pay stub, oh, it’s a bargain. It’s the best
bargain you’ll ever get out of your tax dollars.
This piece originally appeared as part of Education Week Teacher’s special report
“Developing Teacher Leaders”: www.edweek.org/go/developingteacherleaders
I recently heard [common-core-standards architect] David Coleman talk about
how we’ve tried for too long to do a million things well and we’ve done all of them
at a mediocre level. Common core asks us to focus very narrowly on a few skills
in math and science and social studies and English at each level and to become
virtuosos in them. [Ed note: The common standards are for English language arts
and math but cross into other disciplines, particulary via the language arts requirements.] We teachers are going to narrow our focus and drill deep. That’s a relief to
hear; it’s a breath of fresh air. The standards that I currently have to teach kids
number over 200. There were 186 school days in my calendar. I don’t understand
how you attain mastery when every day you’re doing a different dance.
Where teachers express fear and trepidation about the common core is the
implementation piece. We have to be very careful about this not being presented
as “the next new thing.” It has to be different, and there have to be legions of
leaders investing everything into how we implement it. It’s like we’ve been fishing and we’ve caught a marlin. Common core is the marlin that’s been out to
sea, and we’ve been reeling it in and reeling it in and it’s almost here. It’s just
beside the boat—it’s huge, it’s beautiful, it has a lot of power. But how we bring
it on board, how we handle that will require incredible skill, patience, vision, and
What are your thoughts on the implementation of the Common Core State
Standards? Are teachers ready for them?
Rebecca Mieliwocki receives congratulations from President Barack Obama
during the National Teacher of the Year ceremony at the White House in April 2012.
Lessons From Reality TV
On Supporting Teachers
By Lillie Marshall
I confess: After a long day of teaching my 140 7th graders, I often unwind by watching
the reality television show “The Voice.” In this show, celebrity judges, including Christina
Aguilera and Cee Lo Green, blindly pick singer-contestants, then coach them over several
months until America votes on the winner.
What is striking about “The Voice” (besides Cee Lo’s fabulous wardrobe choices) are two
lessons highly applicable to school leadership.
Lesson A: People have the potential to grow hugely if given time and good coaching.
It was astounding how much Cassadee Pope, the Season 3 winner of “The Voice,” developed since the first episode. I spent the first five weeks of the show screaming at the
television that Cassadee was singing off-key and needed to be cut, but halfway through
the season, she switched from pop songs to country (partly on the advice of her coach,
Blake Shelton), and found her pitch.
I couldn’t help but remember how I almost quit teaching after my second year. My
biggest problem was classroom management, and the strategies colleagues and school
leaders suggested I use to keep order only created more chaos. Luckily, I stuck it out for a
third year, and with new instructional coaches and mentors, finally found my classroommanagement groove. Without that extra year and new coaching, I would have just been
another of the countless teachers who quit each year. Just as Cassadee was lucky that
Blake saw her potential and didn’t cut her when she hit wrong notes, I was lucky my
school leaders believed enough in me to persuade me to stay for another year of coaching.
Lesson B: Personality matches matter.
I wailed when “The Voice” coach Adam Levine cut one of the best singers in the competition, a soulful bohemian artist named Nicole Nelson, in favor of a mousey singer who
hit a crazy high note once and then was cut the next episode. Something about Adam’s
personality drew him toward supporting the “flash in the pan” contestant; Nicole might
have been better off with a coach who supported her deep talent.
This lesson holds true in supporting teachers. Not every school leader or mentor is
the right match for every teacher, and what matches well with one may doom another.
Teachers should not be afraid to switch to a school with a leader who might be a better
fit for him or her. On the other side of things, school leaders should constantly assess how
their biases are shaping or mis-shaping their interactions with teachers so they don’t
drive away potential stars.
The coaching goal in “The Voice” is to cultivate a top team of singers to produce the most
beautiful music possible. Likewise, a school leader’s goal should be to grow and keep a top
team of teachers to create the lovely music of student achievement and happiness! n
LILLIE MARSHALL (@WorldLillie on Twitter) has been a teacher in the Boston school district since
2003. She also runs the Education Bloggers Facebook and Twitter groups. This piece originally
appeared in Education Week Teacher’s online forum Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable.
Education WEEk 2013 CALENDAR OF EVE NTS & P RO F ES SI O NAL DEV EL O P ME NT DI RE CT O RY 7
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - Calendar of Events & Professional Development Directory - Spring 2013
Education Week - Calendar of Events & Professional Development Directory - Spring 2013
Principal Development Goes Back to School
National Teacher of the Year: Educators Need Career Paths
Creating a School Culture That Is Collaborative
Teacher Satisfaction: A Matter of Principal
Lessons From Reality TV on Supporting Teachers
2013 Calendar of Events
Sponsors of Events
Directory Table of Contents
Education Week - Calendar of Events & Professional Development Directory - Spring 2013