Monday, October 31, 2016

The Classroom Teacher Acts Like She’s Not Responsible for My Child. What Can I Do?

Title:  The Classroom Teacher Acts Like She’s Not Responsible for My Child. What Can I Do?

Image result for teacher
By:Whitney Hollins Adjunct Instructor, Hunter College
Source:  Understood: for learning and attention issues


Key Points: The article shows from the perspective of a parent of a child with special needs, how frustrating their experience can be in main stream classrooms. Often, general education teachers do not have an adequate knowledge of what their students on IEPs need in order to be success. while they are responsible for getting this information, the special ed case manager also plays an important role in providing resources and tools to the general education teacher. 

Intended Audience: Parents (main focus), Teachers 

Relevance: As special education teachers this article is beneficial in seeing issues facing our students from a different point of view, that of the parent. As case managers we need to be advocates for our students who are in main stream classes and ensure that they are getting the supports that they are legally entitled to. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

How smart is it to allow students to use mobile phones at school?

Title:  How smart is it to allow students to use mobile phones at school?

Source:  The Conversation, Academic rigor, journalistic flair


Critical Question:  How does the presence of mobile phones in schools impact student achievement?

Key Points:  "We found that not only did student achievement improve (by banning phones), but also that low-achieving and at-risk students gained the most. We found the impact of banning phones for these students equivalent to an additional hour a week  in school, or to increasing the school year by five days."

Intended Audience: Teachers, students, administrators, parents, lawmakers, taxpayers.

Relevance: This is relevant because the trend is toward allowing cell phones in schools, while this data shows this allowance to be detrimental to learning, most notably for low-achieving and at-risk students.  Post cell phone ban gains in learning are most prominent among the lowest achievers, and changing policy to allow phones in schools has the potential to exacerbate learning inequalities.

Also see accompanying (linked) study from the London School of Economics titled Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction & Student Performance 

Racist tweets?

Key points: Student post a picture holding up a sign with a racist comment written on a poster, which resulted in other Oregon City students planning walk outs to get their point across about the racial slurs. Students are standing up or walking out in this case for what they believe in.

Audience: Teachers, Students, Parents, and administrators

Relevance: This is very relevant due to the racial discrimination that has been going on all across our country recently. Students are now taking their own action regardless of age to prove their point against racial acts.

Portland Teacher Seeks Books That Connect with her Students: Season of Sharing 2016

By: Susan Green
October 27, 2016
Oregon Live

Key points:  Chelsea Hallam, a teacher at David Douglas High School, is hoping to receive donations from the 2016 Seasons of Sharing holiday fundraising campaign so she can acquire new books and classroom supplies for her students.  Her main goal is to provide students with books that are engaging, multicultural, and international.  Many of the students have recently finished English language learner classes.  In addition to building reading skills, she believes that her students will gain more excitement for reading. 

Intended Audience:  Educators, students, administrators, and parents

Relevance:  This article stood out to me because, it brings up an important issue regarding the types of books teachers provide their students.  I know this issue exists at a larger scale within the macro system and school district decisions.  Also, I worked with incoming 9th graders at David Douglas High School through a summer program designed to help prepare them for high school.  There is a diverse population of students who come there to learn.  This needs to be understood when teachers plan lessons and discuss content.  Showing students that there is more than one story to be told is valuable.  It can be empowering for students to be able to identify and connect with stories that speak meaning into their lives.  More often, stories that are read in schools are not representative of all students.  As a result, this can limit the perspectives shared, which can end up creating more stereotypes.  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

School Bus Driver Rallies Community Around a Sock Drive for Needy Students

Title: School Bus Driver Rallies Community Around a Sock Drive for Needy Students
NEAToday: Educators in Action- Education Support Professionals
By: John Rosales
October 27, 2016

 In March. Martha Alvarez launched the Warm Toes Sock Drive to generate donated socks for students in Traverse City, MI.

Key Points: The article is a great representation of the ability to make a difference. Martha Alvarez is a bus driver who saw a need for socks amongst the students she transports to school. Seeing this need, she took the steps necessary to help the students of not only her bus, but of the entire school district. She started small and eventually moved her way up the chain rapidly getting in touch with district level officials. There is now in place the annual Warm Toes Sock Drive.

Intended Audience: Education support professionals, teachers, district representatives and community members.

Relevance: Poverty is a problem which many of our students face every day. It is also not extremely apparent in all cases; some people go to great lengths to hide it. Martha Alvarez saw a way to make even a small difference in the lives of our students and she did everything in her power to make it happen. As educators, we need to have that spark, the desire to help our students in any way possible, even if it is small. Alvarez makes a great statement, “It didn’t matter why the kids didn’t have socks. Maybe it was due to poverty or neglect. What mattered was that they needed socks to stay healthy and be ready to learn.” Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the Why and just help the students when we have the ability.

Growing Roses in Concrete

Growing Roses in Concrete

TedxGoldenGateED – Jeff Duncan-Andrade
Uploaded by TEDx Talks Sep 27, 2011

Key Points: Jeff Duncan-Andrade chronicles the journey of his East Oakland High School’s desire to make schools relevant in the lives of their students in their community who live with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Meaning that not only do their experience trauma as a part of their daily lives, they continually re-enter the trauma year after year. This high school implements programs that first support their students in the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs before introducing instruction that led to academic success.

What sets their system apart is that they do not focus on launching their students out of, and above their community, but rather they concentrate on improving the community in a manner that their students will not only succeed, but return and join the improvement efforts in their community.

Audience: Parents, educators, administrators in settings where students are experiencing acute, ambient and chronic trauma.

Relevance: With so many schools that have students with CPTSD, this is a model that can be looked at closely and applied to almost any setting. The speaker comments on the efficacy of laying the foundation of security from Maslow’s model, yet teacher prep programs never evaluate a teacher’s ability to implement best practice in this area.

Safety Tips- Teen Drivers

Title:  Safety Tips For Teen Drivers
Author:  Insurance Information Institute
Key Points:  Shocking statistics that motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of deaths for 15 to 20 year old people in the United States is a key point in this article. Research indicates that over half of these deaths are caused by not wearing seat belts when they are passengers in the vehicle.  The article states the dangers of texting while driving, lack of experience and immaturity and the inability to recognize dangerous behaviors that lead to accidents as a result of this lack of knowledge.  Tips are provided to reduce the risk of motor vehicle accidents.
Relevance:  This article discusses the parent or guardian responsibility to be a good role model for their young adult.  This advice can apply to everything in life.  Remembering that young people are always watching adult behavior may make people think twice about how they behave in public.  The tips are valuable because often students will say I am buying a 'cool car', not necessarily a safe option.  Discussing the dangers of drug and alcohol use and distracting or impaired driving is also very relevant to our lifestyles today with cell phones easily accessible in our cars .  Wearing our seat belts has to become automatic for all drivers and modeled to new drivers consistently.
European countries do not allow anyone under the age of 18 to drive alone.
This can be a great option for some teens that are not ready for the major responsibility of driving.

Italian Perception of the Bullying Phenomenon

Title:  An Analysis of Italian Newspaper Articles on the Bullying Phenomenon
Authors:  Michela Fraire, Laura Elvira Prino, Erica Sclavo
International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy
Key Points:  In Italian newspapers the mass-media utilizes bullying as a social and political tool.
As a motive for political direction, Italian newspapers are utilizing instances of bullying on school buses, cyber-bullying of a disabled child, and suicides related to bullying as a means to create political policies.  The demand of political directives and further research into the causes of bullying
related to aggression in Italian schools and criminality are discussed frequently in popular Italian newspapers.  Reading newspapers is still a part of daily life in Italy and a successful way to deliver
important and relevant information to the citizens of Italy.
Relevance:  This election year in America has focused greatly on bullying tactics, discrimination, hatred and fear.  Recently Italian politicians criticized the manner in which the United States political campaigns are able to use freedom of speech to bully and initiate hatred.  This article demonstrates that mass- media in Italy are using newspapers as a tool for change and focusing on possible solutions.  Bringing aggression into the light as a political and social issue sets an example of a desire to show equality to all citizens and prevents politicians from demonstrating the behaviors that are totally irrelevant to their political policies.  Children are watching the behavior of potential future leaders.  What kind of behaviors are the politicians modelling?  

Friday, October 28, 2016


Title: Teaching Tolerance

Author: Southern Poverty law Center, 2016

Key Points: This article points out the importance for teachers to increase the message of teaching tolerance. This years election has demonstrated to be one of the worst political campaigns in history in my own personal opinion. It has brought more fear, and anxiety in our classrooms.

Relevance: I have seen this fear and anxiety in the classrooms in the school I work at. I have seen a teacher get fired, because of her lesson regarding the election. She was non-bias, but when she tried to get the students to think about and talk about Trump she was told to stop the lesson. This makes me very sad to think as a teacher we are silenced when it comes to educating our students. I think that we need to be sending out the message of tolerance, and that we can use these opportunities to bring up discussions in our classrooms. How would you talk about the presidential debate in your classroom? How would you ease the fears, and anxieties of your students, and/or parents? These are all very good topics to think about, and discuss in our schools. We can't just ignore it in our schools. We can't avoid these hot topics to discuss. We can always learn from these opportunities. We must ease the fears of our students. This is a great article, and there are multiple articles to look at under this short article all pertaining to teaching tolerance.


  • Title: 21 Chrome Extensions for Struggling Students and Special Needs
  • Source/Author/Date: Control, ALT, Achieve Blog; Eric Curts; October 8,2016

  • Key Points: This article lists 21 Google extensions that can be helpful to students with disabilities. The Chrome web browser allows users to install a wide variety of web extensions that provide tools that can help all learners, regardless of ability level.  In this post look at 21 Chrome web extensions that can assist students in five main categories:
    • Text to Speech
    • Readability
    • Reading Comprehension
    • Focus
    • Navigation
  • Relevance: As a Special Education teacher, I am always looking for ways to aid my students with there academic journeys. This is a good reminder of what is availble through Google. It reminds me of some of the practices I learned at the OTEN conference last Spring. It is an excellent reference if one has forgotten about some of the apps that are available.

When the cyber bully is you

Source/Author/Date: When the Cyberbully Is You (New York Time) Nick Bilton: April 29, 2015

Key Points: “The conversation around cyber bullying has been going on for awhile but it is getting this particular kind of attention now because it’s coming to the fore that anyone can be a victim of that kind of shaping” said by Jacqui Shine.   The main obstacle in cyber bullying is the lack of empathy.  
Title: Oregon City High School Students Plan Walkout After Racist Tweet

Source/Author/Date: The Oregonian/Oregonian Live, Lizzy Acker posted October 26th 2016 and updated October 27th 2016.
Key Points: After a racist photograph circulated through Twitter, Oregon City HS students planned a walkout of class as a...

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Classroom Management

NEA Logo Off to a Good Start

Does Classroom management advice really work?

National Education Association/Hilary Richardson/Summer 2016
URL Link [Classroom Management]
There are several tips that can make classroom management easier, especially if you are a new teacher. These tips include how to easily remember students' names, good educational websites, sticking to routines, etc.
The reason that this is relevant is that everyone in this program will face a class for the first time at some point. These tips can help smooth the way for new teachers to take the reins from the first moment.

Keeping an eye out for our students who don't have a home!

I love this article because it brings attention to something I think gets overlooked way more frequently than it should.  Students who don't have a place to call home and/or are living on the streets can easily get overlooked in schools.  This specific person tells about how her and her little sister were never approached about needs or appearance of the two of them when they were living on the streets and always existing in an abusive environment.  No one ever asked why they were always afraid to "call home", or would flinch and hunch down if someone became angry.  She then goes on to give advice for teachers and schools if they ever think they may know some of these students.  She reminds them to offer resources, extracurricular activites, etc.  Then she gives advice to the students themselves; stay in school, education will be your biggest secret weapon, and focus on what you can control...and so much more.  It's such a relevant topic, great article!

Nursing in Schools

Parents slam new D.C. schools health plan that could reduce nurse coverage
by Perry Stein, October 27, 2016

Key Points: D.C. Department of health looking to use new formula to decide what schools have nurses and and how much coverage nurses provide. 

Relevance: Nurses play a large role in the health of public schools. They provide services to our students that are irreplaceable.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

OC Walkout Planned

  • Oregon City Walkout Due to Racist Post
  • The Oregonian, Lizzy Acker, 10/26/2016
  • URL Link: Walkout Link 
  • Key Points: Oregon City students plan a scheduled walkout to demonstrate unity over racist tweet that occurred from past and present school members. School officials try to quench the social media firestorm that has begun over the image with an expected walkout set for Thursday morning.
  • Relevance: Unfortunately these headlines seem to be trite within the Portland suburbs (and around the nation) as officials seem to issue PR statements pertaining to the impact and remedies that are occurring within the school and district. With the ease of social media and the impact of digital footprints, students and schools need to be conscious of the impact that their friends and peers have with their posts not only for themselves, but for the community. Students today should be aware of the consequences and ramifications that can occur if they don't monitor and think about their posts as these items can't just be "deleted". With the technology and sharing capabilities, these items can and will last indefinitely as long as the internet is available.

"Satisfactory" is Unsatisfactory

Title: Bill Gates: Teachers need real feedback

Source/Author/Date: Filmed April 2013 at TED Talks Education. New York, New York. Retrieved October 24, 2016.

Key Points:
  • Teachers don’t receive enough systematic feedback to help them do their jobs better, and they deserve that!
  • Since there are no international systems for gauging teacher feedback system, Gates looked at what countries have the highest achievement ranks. Then he asked, do they have  systematic feedback in place?
  • FYI, globally the U.S ranks 15th in reading proficiency, 23rd in science, and 31st in math.
  • Shanghai, China ranks number one in all three categories.
  • What they do: new teachers watch master teachers, weekly focus groups, and required to observe other teachers and provide feedback.
  • “Measures of effective teaching”, MET, is the program Bill and Melinda Gates are trying to build. It is a teacher feedback and improvement system. This will help teachers gauge their performance, and receive the tools necessary to make the improvements.
  • Watching video of yourself teaching is a great method of self-monitoring and improving your own practice.
  • Estimated investment is $5 billion dollars
This holds particular relevance for me. I was researching a project for another class and found most teachers feel unprepared to manage classroom behaviors. One of the research-based suggestions in another article was to have teachers observe and give feedback, as well as observe other expert teachers. This research agrees with the findings of the Gates foundation. I hope America can find a way to invest in our teachers and our future.

Audience: Teachers and political leaders.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Reducing Anxiety in First Year of Teaching

Title: In First Year of Teaching, Acting More, Reacting Less, Can Reduce Anxiety 
Source/Author/Date: neaToday, Sara Ketcham, 10/13/16
Url Link: neaToday
Key Points: In this article, a third year High School teacher dispenses some advice on how to survive your first year without drowning. She lays out some practical strategies for staying on top of work instead of letting it overwhelm you. She also emphasizes finding a healthy work/life balance, which is critical for maintaining your sanity.
Relevance While This is written for brand new teachers (which we all will be), the advice and tips are useful reminders for all teachers to try to implement not only to help them be better teachers, which obviously benefits their students as well.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Confession of Liberal Intolerance

Title:  A Confession of Liberal Intolerance
Source:  The New York Times
Key Points:  Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious
Intended Audience: Teachers, students, professors
Relevance: Present and future university students (student teachers and their own students) need to be aware of how higher education institutions often stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity.  It's also interesting to think about how many teachers are influenced by their own university education and how they in turn influence their own students.

Friday, October 21, 2016

"To Be White is To Be Racist" a high school teacher told his class.

Source: Washington Post

Relevance: This article discusses what a high school teacher told his class when attempting to have a discussion about race. While the country is focused more on race issues in recent months, because of the horrible shootings across the country, the topic of race has been talked about more and more. This teacher made the statement that "To be white is to be racist, period". This has started a controversy about what teachers should teach and how they should incorporate the topic of race in classrooms. Race has also been a topic in the current election due to the discussion of immigration.

Key Points: Some students were supportive of the teacher, because of the attempt at discussing race. However, there were some students who felt that they were being picked and should be picked on for being white.

Audience: Parents, students, administrators, teachers, and community.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

2,000 Seattle teachers wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirts to class

Seattle Times staff reporter

Key Points: The event and rallies Wednesday morning were not organized by the Seattle school district but by the Seattle teacher union. Teachers independently purchased t-shirts and wore them to school and had discussions about the issues with their students. Parents also participated in this event. The purpose was to demonstrate that "black lives matter" within our public schools.

Relevance: With the media only pointing out what they believe is important, it is great to see adults and schools ready to inform our families and students. According to another article, black students make-up 16% of students in the Seattle area and make up the largest minority group. It also brings up the concept of teacher-student relationships. The best part is that teachers will incorporate this topic in their future lesson plans.

Audience: Parents and students. Educators in all grade levels.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Helping Special Education Students Harvest Job Skills: Season of Sharing 2016

Title: Helping Special Education Students Harvest Job Skills: Season of Sharing 2016
By: Susan Green

October 5, 2016

 Oregon Live

Key points:  The article highlights the importance of special education students having work experience opportunities.  There is a Community Transition Program part of the Beaverton School District that connects 95 students in special education ages 18-21 with vocational opportunities.  This program is geared towards students who have graduated with a modified or alternative certificate.  Currently, the program is raising funds for a greenhouse that would allow students to build gross motor skills while learning about healthy food options.  It is essential that students learn both work and life skills.  Also, students give extra produce from the garden to the Oregon Food Bank.

Intended Audience:  Students, parents, educators, administrators, and community members

Relevance:  Special educators working with high school students can help provide opportunities for them to develop skills, find interests, and prepare them for life after high school.  Educators can partner with community members to create these learning opportunities for students.  Also, we can provide students with job opportunities that fit their strengths and passions that can make this process more meaningful and motivating for the students.  In addition, we can instill the importance of volunteering and serving in the community.        

Monday, October 17, 2016

Implicit Bias

Title: How The Concept Of Implicit Bias Came Into Being

Morning Edition NPR/Renee Montagne, David Greene/Oct 17, 2016

Link: How The Concept Of Implicit Bias Came Into Being

This interesting segment from Morning Edition talks about implicit bias: what it is and how it affects our society. Mahzarin Banaji, who co-created the theory of implicit bias 20 years ago, talks with the hosts about how our brains, and what we see around us, inform our biases. She also states how we need to ask ourselves why we feel as we do about something. We need to explore our feelings and thoughts to understand our biases.

"At any moment when we discover things about ourselves or about the world that are new, we have to expect the kind of reaction that we're getting. But the mark of an evolved society is how quickly do we come to terms with it" Mahzarin Banaji.

Relevance: Bias is such a relevant topic, especially in these tumultuous times. Hatred, bigotry, misogyny, homophobia; all these seem to meet us at every turn. We need to teach our children better ways to think deep thoughts and ask hard questions.

Life After Diversity Training

Title: Life After Diversity Training

Source: Teaching Tolerance: A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center

By: Hannah Edsall

October 17, 2016

Key Points: Edsall does a great job of representing the need to teach our students how to do factual research and have open dialogues about race/diversity. She goes into the aftermath of a Civil Rights incident in her district. She depicts the federal government giving them stipulations of diversity training and activities for both teachers and students, but no plan on how to implement the delivery of information. This actually caused a negative side effect with the student body. They were shown skits about diversity, but not given the tools to understand their own feelings let alone the point of view of others.

Intended Audience: Teachers, administrators, and district staff.

Relevance: This article is extremely relevant to our current situation in this country. More than ever, conversations about race and diversity are at the forefront of our minds. As educators, we need to give our students the skills to have healthy conversations about these issues. Not just open conversations, but the ability to research factual information and understand other people’s point of views. Our nation is very divided and it has been born of an inability to listen to another person’s story without judgment.

The Examind Life

Title: The Examined Life
Image result for thinking student

Source: Aeon Media


Key points:  According to the author, " For most teachers and students, the classroom experience is shaped, down to the last detail, by the requirement to prepare for examinations." The article goes on to encourage teachers to become Socratic Mentors, guiding their students toward answers rather than the mere providers of information. Furthermore it challenges the reader/teacher with the question, can we teach students how to think? The answer comes in the analogy of swimming. We must be given lessons, examples and OPPORTUNITIES to try out thinking on our own in supportive environments. 

Intended audience: Teachers and Parents

Relevance: As special educators we are preparing our students for a vast array of options in life. Of course some will go on to higher education but many will not. Shifting our focus, and this will be difficult in the common core age, toward preparing our students to be problem solvers in life and contributing members of society is far more important, in my opinion, than preparing them to get a "passing" score on the OAKS test. 

If I thought of a future, I dreamt of one day founding a school in which young people could learn without boredom, and would be stimulated to pose problems and discuss them; a school in which no unwanted answers to unasked questions would have to be listened to; in which one did not study for the sake of passing examinations. - Karl Popper

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Neuroplasticity - just for fun

The Plastic Brain: The Brain That Changed
Relevance: Neuroplasticity is a field that we will be hearing a lot more about in the coming years. What is it? It is the idea that the brain can reorder and reorganize itself throughout our lifetime by the formation of new neural connections. It is the ability of the brain to expand its possibilities and connections through new experiences.

In the film link above, you will meet Andy, a young man with cerebral palsy, and Lee, his 'trainer'. When we first meet Andy, we see the difficulty he has with walking. Through Lee's physical training, we see the results of neuroplastic training through the encountering of new experiences. In Andy's story, we see how his brain has reordered itself, creating new neural connections, allowing Andy to walk with less difficulty, albeit not with a normed gait.

I find this such a fascinating field of science. I hope you enjoy this film as much as I did.

Let Girls Learn

Title:  How to help educate girls around the world

Source:  CNN- Education

Key Points: Allowing everyone to have equal education rights and encouraging women to learn. 

Getting More Men and Blacks into Teaching

Title: Getting More Men and Blacks into Teaching

Source: Chmelynski, C. (2006).  Getting more men and blacks into teaching.  Education Digest, 71(5), 40.


Key Points: Chmelynski takes a deeper look at the need for men, namely black men, in education.  Many perceptions are keeping men away from becoming teachers including lack of the job’s social status, fear of being accused of abuse, and relatively low pay compared to other professions.  Further into the article Chmelynski discusses that classrooms need more diversity within its staff because the classrooms need to mirror or represent society.  The article mentions men play several roles within education, not just the role of a teacher.  Men are expected to play the role of a father to children coming from single mother homes.  Discusses that black male students need to see black men in positive roles of authority demonstrating the importance of academics.  The article also focuses on the importance of producing black male teachers, but high quality teachers first. 

Intended audience: Individuals considering entering in the education workforce and everyone in society as a whole.

Relevance:  It is important all educators take on the role of mentor for students.  Educational environments need to continue becoming more diverse but it is more important we teach accepting and embracing diversity.  Focus on producing high quality teachers and not just teachers that will assist with reaching a quota.  


DAVE Bartz, a fourth-grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School in Mandan, North Dakota, says people have questioned his career choice, but he enjoys it. He started as a music teacher 27 years ago and also taught history and political science in high school. "But this is more fun. I like the variety of all academic disciplines, and teaching at the elementary level provides that," he says. "To me, it's the best job in the world." Of 40 teachers at Roosevelt, Bartz is one of just five men.
Roosevelt Principal Tom Conlon says once in a while, parents ask to have a child placed in a classroom with a male teacher, especially if they are a single parent. But, he adds, "A good teacher is a good teacher; kids will relate to good teaching."
Roosevelt's teaching staff mirrors the nation's, with many more women than men teaching in K-12 schools. The National Education Association (NBA) says the number of male teachers in public schools is at its lowest level in 40 years. Under a quarter of all teachers in U.S. public schools are men. In elementary grades, just 9% are men. And if male teachers are uncommon, African-American male teachers and male teachers of any minority group are even rarer: 2.4% of our 3 million K-12 public school teachers are black males.
Why? Partly, it's self-perpetuating: If boys don't have male teachers, they are less likely to consider entering the profession. Men also are deterred from teaching by lack of the job's social status, fear of being accused of abuse, and, most important, relatively low pay compared to other professions.
"States with the highest salaries tend to have the highest proportion of male teachers," the NEA says. Michigan, with the highest percentage of male teachers (37%), also has the highest teacher salaries. Mississippi, with the lowest percentage of male teachers, is ranked 49th in teacher pay.
Elementary schools have the fewest male teachers, says NEA, due to "the prevailing philosophy within education that men go into teaching to 'teach the subject,' and women enter teaching to nurture and develop children." As result, male teachers tend to gravitate to secondary schools, leaving "a critical shortage of male teachers at the elementary level."
Several groups seek to address the shortage and diversify the teaching force. Many advocates believe it important for boys to have male role models, particularly when so many children live in homes where the only adult is their mother or grandmother.
"We'd like our classrooms to represent our society," says Bryan G. Nelson, founding director of MenTeach, a Minnesota-based clearing-house created in 1979 for men in K-12 schools. Nelson travels to high schools and asks teenage boys to think about a teaching career. His group provides mentors, training, and stipends to prospective male teachers.
In Maryland, the Prince George's County school district formed a partnership with Bowie State University to support male teachers. The school district serves 135,000 students, 77% of whom are African American. But less than a quarter of its 8,600 teachers are men and more than 75% are white.
Bowie's School of Education set up Men Equipped to Nurture (MEN), a specialized teacher education program to help male teachers in urban settings get fully certified. It pays for up to 15 hours of education classes to help men prepare for the Praxis, the national teacher certification test, and pays fees to take the exam, which range from $75 to $185.
Participants are loaned a laptop computer and meet monthly with a mentor to discuss issues like classroom management and financial planning. In exchange, they agree to teach for two years in Prince George's County schools after they complete the program.
"This is a great way to provide strong, positive male role models for boys as well as girls," says Homer McCall II, assistant director of MEN. So far, 52 male teachers aged 24 to 63 have signed up, McCall says. The majority of the candidates, who must be district employees, are in their late twenties or early thirties and from a variety of backgrounds.
The program's first-year funding comes from a combination of sources, including $347,000 from the federal government, $52,000 from the university, and $ 160,000 from the district. "We're looking for funding for year two," McCall says.
The Call Me MISTER program (Men Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) was founded in 1999 as a partnership of Clemson University and several historically black colleges and universities in South Carolina. The program seeks to recruit, train, certify, and secure employment for 200 black males as elementary teachers in South Carolina's public schools.
Only 150 black male teachers work in South Carolina public elementary schools, under 1% of the state's over 20,000 elementary teachers, says field coordinator Winston Holton. So far, 45 men have completed the program, gotten teaching degrees, and teach in South Carolina public schools. About 140 teaching candidates are now in the program, all of them black, "but as a public program, we do not exclude anyone based on race," Holton says.
Call Me MISTER is not aimed just at providing role models for black boys, he notes: "We never want to give the misperception that we are producing teachers for black male students. We are producing quality effective teachers who are going to meet the needs of all their students. As a black male and a former elementary teacher here in South Carolina, I know the value of having a black male in the classroom that can counter people's stereotypes of the black male population.
"All students need to see black males in authority roles — roles of responsibility, academic roles showing there are manifestations of black maleness other than athletics, entertainment, or, unfortunately, crime. Call Me MISTER is a leadership program" where students in it are "change agents in the community, and they are trying to empower students to become change agents also."
© 2005, National School Boards Association. All rights reserved.
By Carol Chmelynski