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The Upsala Area School District in Minnesota created incentives that have enticed teachers like Heather Johnson, from Upsala Elementary School, to retire when the school year ends.

For many districts, early retirement incentives are considered a good business practice—a way to cut top-heavy payrolls and replace teachers whose heart may no longer be in the classroom. But without good planning, these incentives can have unintended financial and academic costs. 

Teachers are coming out of classrooms to build trust with parents. Teachers visit K8 students in the fall to learn more about families. A second home visit in the spring is about building academic skills and sharing information.

Francine Costello, above, is a retired teacher from New Jersey who works as a substitute teacher for Brevard County Public Schools in Florida. She earned a Master of Arts degree from Kean University, and specializes in exceptional student education.

Several districts have found new ways to connect with and retain quality substitutes.

Use social media. Tacoma Public Schools finds emergency substitutes via Facebook or Instagram who agree to be available when teachers call in sick.

At the Tacoma School District in Washington, Heather Gooch is a substitute teacher at Mann Elementary School. Tacoma recently started using social media and paying subs more in harder-to-fill schools. It has improved the quality of subs there.

Amid a nationwide shortage, some districts have strengthened certification requirements, increased communication with substitutes and hired staffing agencies to keep their classrooms full.

Barbara Blackburn is one of the nation’s foremost authors on student engagement and increasing rigor. Ronald Williamson is a professor of educational leadership at Eastern Michigan University.

Is there a motivation problem with teachers in your district? If so, you’re not alone. It’s a common problem, particularly once the school year is under way and there are multiple demands on teacher time.

Despite anecdotal evidence that schools across the country face hiring challenges, statistical proof of a shortage is hard to come by. Federal data for 2011-12, the most recent available, shows a decline of less than 1 percent since 2007-08 in the number of public school teachers, and only a tiny increase in the student-teacher ratio.

At the Spokane Educators Career Fair in Washington last year, teacher candidates look for jobs.

Superintendents are turning to an array of new and creative strategies, such as starting the hiring process earlier, looking farther afield for recruits, offering perks and signing bonuses to new hires, and ramping up efforts to help candidates earn teaching credentials.

Source: National Council on Teacher Quality (Click to enlarge)

The vast majority of states require student growth and achievement to be factored into teacher and principal evaluations.

But most states and districts are now grappling with the practical realities of implementing those policies, according to the October report “State of the States 2015: Evaluating Teaching, Leading and Learning” from the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Joseph Renzulli is the director of the Neag Center For Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development at the University of Connecticut.

Applying the pedagogy of gifted education to all classrooms can lead to total school improvement. That is the aim of my work, an enrichment-infusion process called the “schoolwide enrichment model,” or SEM.

“Curricular infusion” simply means that we do not argue with the reality of today’s standards and test-driven approaches to school improvement. Rather, we examine materials and teaching strategies that can make the prescribed curriculum more interesting and enjoyable.

L. Rob Furman is principal at South Park Elementary Center in Pennsylvania.

With a windstorm of constant changes in education, are we forgetting some of the basics? I’m not talking about readin’, writin’ and ’rithmetic.

Have we, through the fog of technology and the pressures of highstakes testing, simply forgotten some of the basic concepts that veteran educators once took for granted?

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