Week of February 9, 2015

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  image from Colleen Proppe
Teacher Prep
Teach Like A Champion 2.0 from Doug Lemov was released at the end of last year.Stephen Sawchuk takes a look at the updates for the second version and some of the discourse around Lemov’s approach. Lemov notes that some “perceive [the book] to be all about behavior management,” but many of the updates center around instructional techniques, including various strategies for checking understanding and boosting cognitive rigor within classrooms.
Two new policy briefs from Teach Plus present survey results indicating teachers feel insufficiently prepared for the classroom. The first brief, based on a survey of teachers in Massachusetts, includes a recommendation to provide outstanding mentor teachers by improving their screening and training (NCTQ couldn’t agree more). Providing more instruction on classroom management is among the recommendations posed in thesecond brief, which has survey results from 1,000 teachers from 34 states. Perhaps it is not just more instruction on classroom management but instruction focused on key elements like specific praise that reinforce positive behavior.
District Matters
“…we need to put the power in the hands of the people who best understand the work, getting teachers back in the position of being true leaders,” said Justin Darnell, the senior manager of teacher leadership for Denver Public Schools. Darnell was referring to the announcement that the district is expanding its teacher leadership program to a total of 72 schools, according to Chalkbeat Colorado. The program creates a path to professional growth for teachers who want to stay in their classrooms while expanding their role and for those who want to become administrators.
Last week Harrisburg, Pennsylvania teachers rejected a tentative contract agreement, saying it didn’t go far enough in raising pay to the level of surrounding suburban districts. In addition to restoring 5 percent of pay, the proposed contract would have nullified an active grievance against the district for a previous pay cut of 5 percent. At the time of the cut, the district had projected a shortfall which never materialized, PennLive reports.
State Matters
The District of Columbia is developing a plan to bring more effective teachers to schools in low income neighborhoods. The district has made improving teacher quality the cornerstone of its policies since 2007, the Washington Post reports, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. A 2014 report showed that the most effective teachers are far more likely to work in wealthiest parts of the city. D.C.’s plan will be sent to the federal Department of Education in April, along with plans from the other 50 states to get more effective teachers into high-poverty schools.
Tennessee’s largest teachers union has filed another lawsuit focused on the use of test scores in teacher evaluations. This is the third lawsuit filed contesting the state’s requirement of using value-added data in evaluations; it focuses on the use of school-level student scores in evaluations of teachers in non-tested subjects (such as physical education). Currently, student scores make up at least 25 percent of a teacher’s evaluation score regardless of whether or not they teach a subject without a state test. Chalkbeat Tennessee has more details.