Understanding the Local: Summer Reading

Make sure you visit the local library this summer!
Make sure you visit the local library this summer!

There are many people who follow national politics vigorously but ignore the local. They understand American history, but not their local history. They vote in national elections but not in their municipal ones.

This is wrong. Teaching has taught me that the bread and butter of American democracy exists on the local level. Local politicians make many decisions that affect our daily lives directly.

To that end, I have been trying to understand Kansas City history much more critically. Thankfully, KCUR has compiled the perfect summer reading list for local understanding! This list encompasses race, Native American history, cultural and political history, and even some locally set fiction.

Read on for some happy rainy day couch reading!

The Hard Road Ahead for Teachers

Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, recently gave an amazing commencement address at Bank Street Graduate School of Education in New York, where he outlined the challenges facing teachers today. But this was not a negative speech. It clearly outlines the issues and gives a call to action, one that is powerful and succinct.

He starts by highlighting the extraordinary nature of teachers:

With courage, you have chosen to enter or advance in the nation’s most critical profession, at a time when selfish and misguided elites have made public education, and its teachers, scapegoats for the unacceptable racial and economic inequality that those elites have permitted, indeed encouraged, to persist and grow in America.

Then he poses the difficult questions that he proceeds to tackle:

This leaves you, the graduates, with a burning question you will spend your teaching careers, at least for the foreseeable future, pondering: How do you do the good work for which Bank Street has prepared you, within a system that may undermine your efforts and thwart your students’ education?

The call to action is short and sweet:

Dedicated teachers devote a lot of attention, and anguish, to considering these ethical dilemmas. They do so mostly in private, sometimes with their colleagues, sometimes only with their spouses or partners, sometimes only to themselves. If I can summon up the arrogance to make any recommendation to you, it is to consider how you can make your anguish more public.

It is important for teachers to be part of the public conversation, have open dialogue and speak truth to power. Join the conversation below in comments, or contact us at avoleti@lumentouch.com.

The full transcript of the speech was published by the Washington Post.

The Ins and Outs of Teaching English Abroad


Teaching English abroad is an amazing opportunity for educators to learn critical skills in culturally responsive teaching and we at ShiftED know many teachers in US classrooms who bring back a world of knowledge from their time teaching abroad.

There will be a feature on one such teacher later, but for those considering teaching abroad Amy over at teachertravelermoneysaver gives a great run down of the pros and cons of teaching abroad as a

1. Volunteer

2. Intern

3. and ELL Teacher.

However, regardless of path, teaching abroad is always recommended. It opens up the classroom to today’s global landscape. Read more for the full details. And if your passport is not yet ready to be stamped, try applying for the Lumen8 program instead, where you can broaden classroom horizons on a local level.

Have you taught abroad? What did you think? Let us know in comments or at avoleti@lumentouch.com

Hot Topic for a Hot Day

So, it’s finally hot outside.

94dd9c00-c8c2-45c3-bcf8-5b85774899db_463x347And, speaking of things that are hot: let’s talk about evaluating teachers. Almost every state is talking about how to do it right. We at ShiftED are all about empowering teachers so they can empower students. Like folks in any profession (and, not coincidentally, just like students), educators’ performances improve most when they are given thoughtful, constructive feedback and specific guidance based on classroom observations. Check out this article from the NY Times on a thought-leading professor from the University of Michigan who might just have a formula worth trying.

What do you think about the subject? We want to hear your thoughts on positive solutions for teacher evaluation. Comment below!

Growth Mindsets in Early Childhood

Deborah Farmer Kris, a lifelong educator, has written a great primer to getting young children to develop a growth mindset over at the KQED blog. She offers (and elaborates) on three simple tips for adults:

  1. Replace generic praise with process praise.
  2. Harness the power of yet.
  3. Tell stories of resilience.Bike

Read more to find the fleshed out details and start changing your interactions with kids today!

How do you encourage the little ones to keep trying after they fail? We would love to hear from you at avoleti@lumentouch.com.