Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
Photo courtesy of

Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Monday, February 28, 2011

Need a grant for your school?

I was recently sent this posting and think it may speak to some of you looking for funding for afterschool programs for your at-risk students. Happy grant writing!!

Do you need funding for an after-school program to help your most at-risk students be better prepared academically? Would $100,000 or more per year help?

The Maryland Department of ED recently released the RFP for its 21st Century Community Learning Centers afterschool grant program which provides funds for a variety of activities designed to extend learning opportunities through educational, literacy, and enrichment opportunities over 3-5 years.

And your school may be able to receive professional grant writing assistance for FREE.  Keep reading to learn more.

GrantsQuest is a national grant writing firm and we work with many international vendors who sponsor grantwriting on behalf of schools just like yours for similar grants across the country (Benchmark Education, BrainX, Corel Software, Curriculum Associates, and Encyclopedia Britannica are just a few).  Through our unique partnership program, you may be eligible to receive free grant writing for this grant as well as many others, and receive the most cutting edge and research-based products and services anywhere in the world.

To be eligible for the 21st Century grant, you must be an elementary, Middle/Jr. High, or high school serving any grades K-12 and have a Free/Reduced lunch count of 40% or more (bonus points awarded to schools designated in need of improvement under Title I).  If you meet the criteria and are interested in receiving free professional grant writing assistance immediately, simply log onto our website at  and complete the School Profile Form.  It's pretty simple.  We match you up with our vendor partners who offer grant writing assistance that would help meet your needs and they may develop a partnership with you to provide the grant writing assistance on your behalf. 

But you need to move fast on this 21st CCLC grant as the deadline is April 4.  To speed up the process, simply send us an e-mail immediately to let us know you're interested and then you can fill out our web form in the next few days. To learn more about the 21st CCLC grant in particular, visit the program website at

Even if this grant isn't right for you, there are hundreds of opportunities out there that might be.  Just log onto our website at to complete your school profile to get matched up for other grants that fit your students needs throughout the year.  It's completely free to complete your profile no matter what.

Don't forget to take a look at our subscription newsletter, the GrantWatch Report, while you're there (latest issue is available at  It is the quickest and most comprehensive way to keep track of all the grants for which your school might be eligible and at just $49.99, you can't afford not to subscribe.

We look forward to the opportunity to help you serve your students better.
Scott E. Tracy

859-582-3078 (m)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

These Students Need YOUR Help!

One of my teacher friends is in dire need of help to buy her high school students caps and gowns for their graduation. They live in inner city Los Angeles and have overcome a variety of difficult challenges and obstacles to be able to accept their well-earned diploma. Please consider donating if you can!

She writes:

When this school year comes to the end, so will my four-year journey with a group of wonderful high school students in inner-city L.A., but their life will only be beginning. However, they cannot afford to walk across the stage in a cap and gown. But you can help! Please visit: to donate. Every little bit helps:) Let me know if you want more details! 

Thank you so much to everyone who already donated and please spread the word!

With much love and gratitude,


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Something to chew on....

One of my friends sent this to me on Facebook. Send it to en educator you know, and make his or her day!

Are you sick of highly paid teachers?

Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or10 months a year! It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do - babysit!

We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That's right. Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan-- that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day...maybe 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.


That's $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).

What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master's degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute -- there's something wrong here! There sure is!
The average teacher's salary (nationwide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student--a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!

Make a teacher smile; repost this to show appreciation for all educators.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Teams vs. Groups -- There's a BIG Difference!

One of my wonderful assistant principals recently posted a link to a short video she had seen at an Assistant Principal training seminar on groups versus  teams. How timely! 

I truly believe that it really speaks to the work we have been doing in our school as an instructional leadership team to improve how we function. Perhaps it can also provide us with a stepping stone we can use towards our continuous improvement.  
Have a fantastic day, and here's to effective teaming still alive and well in our schools today!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Think Again about US Education on the World Stage....

This is a long article, but it's very much worth reading if you are serious about education policy at the national level. It challenges a lot of assumptions about how the United States stacks up to the rest of the world on education and about what makes a good national education system. The piece discusses China, South Korea, and Finland specifically.

I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

Think Again: Education

Relax, America. Chinese math whizzes and Indian engineers aren't stealing your kids' future.


"American Kids Are Falling Behind."
Not really. Anybody seeking signs of American decline in the early 21st century need look no further, it would seem, than the latest international educational testing results. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) -- the most-watched international measure in the field -- found that American high school students ranked 31st out of 65 economic regions in mathematics, 23rd in science, and 17th in reading. Students from the Chinese city of Shanghai, meanwhile, shot to the top of the ranking in all three categories -- and this was the first time they had taken the test.
"For me, it's a massive wake-up call," Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the Washington Post when the results were released in December. "Have we ever been satisfied as Americans being average in anything? Is that our aspiration? Our goal should be absolutely to lead the world in education." The findings drove home the sense that the United States faced, as President Barack Obama put it in his State of the Union address, a "Sputnik moment."
In fact, the U.S. education system has been having this sort of Sputnik moment since -- well, Sputnik. Six months after the 1957 Soviet satellite launch that shook the world, a Life magazine cover story warned Americans of a "crisis in education." An accompanying photo essay showed a 16-year-old boy in Chicago sitting through undemanding classes, hanging out with his girlfriend, and attending swim-team practices, while his Moscow counterpart -- an aspiring physicist -- spent six days a week conducting advanced chemistry and physics experiments and studying English and Russian literature. The lesson was clear: Education was an international competition and one in which losing carried real consequences. The fear that American kids are falling behind the competition has persisted even as the competitors have changed, the budding Muscovite rocket scientist replaced with a would-be engineer in Shanghai.
This latest showing of American 15-year-olds certainly isn't anything to brag about. But American students' performance is only cause for outright panic if you buy into the assumption that scholastic achievement is a zero-sum competition between nations, an intellectual arms race in which other countries' gain is necessarily the United States' loss. American competitive instincts notwithstanding, there is no reason for the United States to judge itself so harshly based purely on its position in the global pecking order. So long as American schoolchildren are not moving backward in absolute terms, America's relative place in global testing tables is less important than whether the country is improving teaching and learning enough to build the human capital it needs.
And by this measure, the U.S. education system, while certainly in need of significant progress, doesn't look to be failing so spectacularly. The performance of American students in science and math has actually improved modestly since the last round of this international test in 2006, rising to the developed-country average in science while remaining only slightly below average in math. U.S. reading scores, in the middle of the pack for developed countries, are more or less unchanged since the most recent comparable tests in 2003. It would probably be unrealistic to expect much speedier progress. As Stuart Kerachsky, deputy commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, put it, "The needle doesn't move very far very fast in education."
"The United States Used to Have the World's Smartest Schoolchildren."
No, it didn't. Even at the height of U.S. geopolitical dominance and economic strength, American students were never anywhere near the head of the class. In 1958, Congress responded to the Sputnik launch by passing the National Defense Education Act, which provided financial support for college students to study math, science, and foreign languages, and was accompanied by intense attention to raising standards in those subjects in American schools. But when the results from the first major international math test came out in 1967, the effort did not seem to have made much of a difference. Japan took first place out of 12 countries, while the United States finished near the bottom.
By the early 1970s, American students were ranking last among industrialized countries in seven of 19 tests of academic achievement and never made it to first or even second place in any of them. A decade later, "A Nation at Risk," the landmark 1983 report by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, cited these and other academic failings to buttress its stark claim that "if an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war."
Each new cycle of panic and self-flagellation has brought with it a fresh crop of reformers touting a new solution to U.S. scholastic woes. A 1961 book by Arthur S. Trace Jr. called What Ivan Knows That Johnny Doesn't, for instance, suggested that American students were falling behind their Soviet peers because they weren't learning enough phonics and vocabulary. Today's anxieties are no different, with education wonks from across the policy spectrum enlisting the U.S. education system's sorry global ranking to make the case for their pet ideas. J. Michael Shaughnessy, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, argues that the latest PISA test "underscores the need for integrating reasoning and sense making in our teaching of mathematics." Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, claims that the same results "tell us … that if you don't make smart investments in teachers, respect them, or involve them in decision-making, as the top-performing countries do, students pay a price."
If Americans' ahistorical sense of their global decline prompts educators to come up with innovative new ideas, that's all to the good. But don't expect any of them to bring the country back to its educational golden age -- there wasn't one.
"Chinese Students Are Eating America's Lunch."
Only partly true. The biggest headline from the recent PISA results concerned the first-place performance of students from Shanghai, and the inevitable "the Chinese are eating our lunch" meme was hard for American commentators and policymakers to resist. "While Shanghai's appearance at the top might have been a stunner, America's mediocre showing was no surprise," declared a USA Today editorial.
China's educational prowess is real. Tiger moms are no myth -- Chinese students focus intensely on their schoolwork, with strong family support -- but these particular results don't necessarily provide compelling evidence of U.S. inferiority. Shanghai is a special case and hardly representative of China as a whole; it's a talent magnet that draws from all over China and benefits from extensive government investment in education. Scores for the United States and other countries, by contrast, reflect the performance of a geographic cross-section of teenagers. China -- a vast country whose hinterlands are poorer and less-educated than its coastal cities -- would likely see its numbers drop if it attempted a similar assessment.
What about perennial front-runners like Finland and South Korea, whose students were again top scorers? These countries undoubtedly deserve credit for high educational accomplishment. In some areas -- the importance of carefully selected, high-quality teachers, for example -- they might well provide useful lessons for the United States. But they have nothing like the steady influx of immigrants, mostly Latinos, whose children attend American public schools. And unfortunately, the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic demographics of the United States -- none of which have analogues in Finland or South Korea -- correlate closely with yawning achievement gaps in education. Non-Hispanic white and Asian pupils in the United States do about as well on these international tests as students from high-scoring countries like Canada and Japan, while Latino and black teens -- collectively more than a third of the American students tested -- score only about as well as those from Turkey and Bulgaria, respectively.
To explain is not to excuse, of course. The United States has an obligation to give all its citizens a high-quality education; tackling the U.S. achievement gap should be a moral imperative. But alarmist comparisons with other countries whose challenges are quite different from those of the United States don't help. Americans should be less worried about how their own kids compare with kids in Helsinki than how students in the Bronx measure up to their peers in Westchester County.
"The U.S. No Longer Attracts the Best and Brightest."
Wrong. While Americans have worried about their elementary and high school performance for decades, they could reliably comfort themselves with the knowledge that at least their college education system was second to none. But today, American university leaders fret that other countries are catching up in, among other things, the market for international students, for whom the United States has long been the world's largest magnet. The numbers seem to bear this out. According to the most recent statistics, the U.S. share of foreign students fell from 24 percent in 2000 to just below 19 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, countries like Australia, Canada, and Japan saw increased market shares from their 2000 levels, though they are still far below the American numbers.
The international distribution of mobile students is clearly changing, reflecting an ever more competitive global higher-education market. But there are many more foreign students in the United States than there were a decade ago -- 149,000 more in 2008 than in 2000, a 31 percent increase. What has happened is that there are simply many more of them overall studying outside their home countries. Some 800,000 students ventured abroad in 1975; that number reached 2 million in 2000 and ballooned to 3.3 million in 2008. In other words, the United States has a smaller piece of the pie, but the pie has gotten much, much larger.
And even with its declining share, the United States still commands 9 percentage points more of the market than its nearest competitor, Britain. For international graduate study, American universities are a particularly powerful draw in fields that may directly affect the future competitiveness of a country's economy: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In disciplines such as computer science and engineering, more than six in 10 doctoral students in American programs come from foreign countries.
But that doesn't mean there's nothing to worry about. Although applications from international students to American graduate schools have recovered from their steep post-9/11 decline, the number of foreigners earning science and engineering doctorates at U.S. universities recently dropped for the first time in five years. American schools face mounting competition from universities in other countries, and the United States' less-than-welcoming visa policies may give students from overseas more incentive to go elsewhere. That's a loss for the United States, given the benefits to both its universities and its economy of attracting the best and brightest from around the world.
"American Universities Are Being Overtaken."
Not so fast. There's no question that the growing research aspirations of emerging countries have eroded the long-standing dominance of North America, the European Union, and Japan. Asia's share of the world's research and development spending grew from 27 to 32 percent from 2002 to 2007, led mostly by China, India, and South Korea, according to a 2010 UNESCO report. The traditional research leaders saw decreases during the same period. From 2002 to 2008, the U.S. proportion of articles in the Thomson Reuters Science Citation Index, the authoritative database of research publications, fell further than any other country's, from 30.9 to 27.7 percent. Meanwhile, the number of Chinese publications recorded in the same index more than doubled, as did the volume of scientific papers from Brazil, a country whose research institutions wouldn't have been on anyone's radar 20 years ago.
This shift in the geography of knowledge production is certainly noteworthy, but as with the international study market, the United States simply represents a proportionally smaller piece of a greatly expanded pie. R&D spending worldwide massively surged in the last decade, from $790 billion to $1.1 trillion, up 45 percent. And the declining U.S. share of global research spending still represented a healthy increase in constant dollars, from $277 billion in 2002 to $373 billion in 2007. U.S. research spending as a percentage of GDP over the same period was consistent and very high by global standards. The country's R&D investments still totaled more than all Asian countries' combined.
Similarly, a declining U.S. share of the world's scientific publications may sound bad from an American point of view. But the total number of publications listed in the Thomson Reuters index surged by more than a third from 2002 to 2008. Even with a shrinking global lead, U.S. researchers published 46,000 more scientific articles in 2008 than they did six years earlier. And in any case, research discoveries don't remain within the borders of the countries where they occur -- knowledge is a public good, with little regard for national boundaries. Discoveries in one country's research institutions can be capitalized on by innovators elsewhere. Countries shouldn't be indifferent to the rise in their share of the research -- big breakthroughs can have positive economic and academic spillover effects -- but they also shouldn't fear the increase of cutting-edge discoveries elsewhere.
"The World Will Catch Up."
Maybe, but don't count on it anytime soon. And don't count on it mattering. The global academic marketplace is without doubt growing more competitive than ever. Countries from China and South Korea to Saudi Arabia have made an urgent priority of creating world-class universities or restoring the lost luster of once great institutions. And they're putting serious money into it: China is spending billions on expanding enrollment and improving its elite research institutions, while Saudi King Abdullah has funneled $10 billion into the brand-new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
But the United States doesn't have just a few elite schools, like most of its ostensible competitors; it has a deep bench of outstanding institutions. A 2008 Rand Corp. report found that nearly two-thirds of the most highly cited articles in science and technology come from the United States, and seven in 10 Nobel Prize winners are employed by American universities. And the United States spends about 2.9 percent of its GDP on postsecondary education, about twice the percentage spent by China, the European Union, and Japan in 2006.
But while the old U.S.-centric order of elite institutions is unlikely to be wholly overturned, it will gradually be shaken up in the coming decades. Asian countries in particular are making significant progress and may well produce some great universities within the next half-century, if not sooner. In China, for instance, institutions such as Tsinghua and Peking universities in Beijing and Fudan and Shanghai Jiao Tong universities in Shanghai could achieve real prominence on the world stage.
But over the long term, exactly where countries sit in the university hierarchy will be less and less relevant, as Americans' understanding of who is "us" and who is "them" gradually changes. Already, a historically unprecedented level of student and faculty mobility has become a defining characteristic of global higher education. Cross-border scientific collaboration, as measured by the volume of publications by co-authors from different countries, has more than doubled in two decades. Countries like Singapore and Saudi Arabia are jump-starting a culture of academic excellence at their universities by forging partnerships with elite Western institutions such as Duke, MIT, Stanford, and Yale.
The notion of just how much a university really has to be connected to a particular location is being rethought, too. Western universities, from Texas A&M to the Sorbonne, have garnered much attention by creating, admittedly with mixed results, some 160 branch campuses in Asia and the Middle East, many launched in the last decade. New York University recently went one step further by opening a full-fledged liberal arts campus in Abu Dhabi, part of what NYU President John Sexton envisions as a "global network university." One day, as University of Warwick Vice Chancellor Nigel Thrift suggests, we may see outright mergers between institutions -- and perhaps ultimately the university equivalent of multinational corporations.
In this coming era of globalized education, there is little place for the Sputnik alarms of the Cold War, the Shanghai panic of today, and the inevitable sequels lurking on the horizon. The international education race worth winning is the one to develop the intellectual capacity the United States and everyone else needs to meet the formidable challenges of the 21st century -- and who gets there first won't matter as much as we once feared.

Ben Wildavsky, a senior fellow in research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation, is author of The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Calling All High School Students!

My former advisor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Eleanor Duckworth, recently posted this request for filmmaker and author Michael Moore. Please feel free to pass it along to any high school students you know. Many thanks!

Dear friends--

I was at the annual North Dakota Study Group meeting just north of Chicago this weekend (flew back this afternoon).  Yesterday noon, after hearing an inspiring and catalyzing presentation from Milwaukee Public School Teacher, Bob Peterson (Rethinking Schools), we abandoned the conference schedule, loaded up and hit the road, in thirteen cars, heading for Madison to stand in solidarity with fellow educators and public workers. It was some great experience.

This evening, returning home. I have found this message from Michael Moore, which he asks us to pass on to all the students we know.

In solidarity --


----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Michael Moore <>
Sent: Fri, February 18, 2011 1:56:32 PM
Subject: Join My High School Newspaper ...a note to students from Michael

Join My High School Newspaper ...a note to students from Michael Moore

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Dear High School Students:

How inspired are you by the thousands of students from Wisconsin high
schools who began walking out of class four days ago and have now occupied
the State Capitol building and its grounds in Madison, demanding that the
governor stop his assault on teachers and other government workers? I have
to say it's one of the most exciting things I've seen in years.

We are, right now, living in an amazing moment of history. And this moment
has happened because the youth around the world have decided they've had
enough. Young people are in revolt -- and it's about time.

You, the students and young adults, from Cairo, Egypt to Madison,
Wisconsin, are now rising up, taking to the streets, organizing, protesting
and refusing to move until your voices are heard. Effing amazing!! It has
scared the pants off those in power, the adults who were so convinced they
had done a heckuva job trying to dumb you down and distract you with
useless nonsense so that you'd end up feeling powerless, just another cog
in the wheel, another brick in the wall. You've been fed a lot of
propaganda about "how the system works" and so many lies about what took
place in history that I'm amazed you've been able to sort through all the
bs and see the truth for what it is. This was all done in the hopes you
would just keep your mouths shut, get in line and follow orders. And don't
rock the boat. Because if you do, you could end up without a good job! You
could end up looking like a freak! You've been told politics isn't cool and
that one person really can't make a difference.

And for some beautiful, unknown reason, you've refused to listen. Maybe
it's because you've figured out that we adults are about to hand you a very
empty and increasingly miserable world, with its melting polar ice caps,
its low-paying jobs, its incessant war machine, and its plan to put you in
permanent debt at age 18 with the racket known as college loans.

On top of that, you've had to listen to adults tell you that you may not be
able to legally marry the person you love, that your uterus isn't really
yours to control, and that if a black guy somehow makes it into the White
House, he must've entered illegally from Kenya.

Yet, from what I've seen, the vast majority of you have rejected all of
this crap. Never forget that it was you, the young people, who made Barack
Obama president. First you formed his army of election volunteers to get
him the nomination. Then you came out in record numbers in November of
2008. Did you know that the only age group where Obama won the white vote
was with 18-29-year-olds? The majority of every white age group over 29
years old voted for McCain -- and yet Obama still won! How'd that happen?
Because there were so many youth voters of all races -- a record turnout
that overcame the vast numbers of fearful white adults who simply couldn't
see someone whose middle name was Hussein in the Oval Office. Thank you
young voters for making that happen!

Young people elsewhere in the world, most notably in the Middle East, have
taken to the streets and overthrown dictatorial governments without firing
a shot. Their courage has inspired others to take a stand. There's a huge
momentum right now, a youth-backed mojo that can't and won't be stopped.

Although I've long since left your age group, I've been so inspired by
recent events that I'd like to do my bit and lend a hand. I've decided to
turn over a part of my website to high school students so they -- you --
can have the opportunity to get the word out to millions more people. For a
long time I've wondered, how come we don't hear the true voices of
teenagers in our mainstream media? Why is your voice any less valid than an

In high schools all across America, students have great ideas to make
things better or to question what is going on -- and often these thoughts
and opinions are ignored or silenced. How often in school is the will of
the student body ignored? How many students today will try to speak out, to
stand up for something important, to simply try to right a wrong -- and
will be swiftly shut down by those in authority, or by other students

I've seen students over the years attempt to participate in the democratic
process only to be told that high schools aren't democracies and that they
have no rights (even though the Supreme Court has said that a student
doesn't give up his or her rights "when they enter the schoolhouse door").

It's always amazed me how adults preach to young people about what a great
"democracy" we have, but when students seek to be part of it, they are
reminded that they are not full citizens yet and must behave somehow as
indentured servants. Is it any wonder then why some students, when they
become adults, don't feel like participating in our political system --
because they've been taught by example for the past 12 years that they have
no say in the decisions that affect them?

We like to say that we have this great "free press," and yet how free are
high school newspapers? How free are you to write or blog about what you
want? I've been sent stories from teenagers that they couldn't get
published at school. Why not? Why must we silence or keep out of sight the
voice of our teenagers?

It's not that way in other countries. The voting age in places like
Austria, Brazil or Nicaragua is 16. In France, students can shut down the
country by simply walking out of school and taking to the streets.

But here in the U.S. you're told to obey and to basically butt out and let
the adults run the show.

Let's change that! I'm starting something on my site called, "HIGH SCHOOL
NEWSPAPER." Here you will be able to write what you want and I will publish
it. I will also post those articles that you've tried to get published at
your school but were turned down. On my site you will have freedom and an
open forum and a chance to have your voice heard by millions.

I've asked my 17-year-old niece, Molly, to kick things off by editing this
page for the first six months. She will ask you to send her your stories
and ideas and the best ones will be posted on I'll give
you the platform you deserve. It will be my honor to have you on my site
and I encourage you to take advantage of it.

You are often called "our future." That future is today, right here, right
now. You've already proven you can change the world. Keep doing it. And I'd
be honored to help you.

Michael Moore

P.S. When can you get started? Right now! Just go here and register. (You
can use a made-up name if you want and you don't have to name your
school.) Then once you're done, start submitting blogs, music, video and

P.P.S. If you're reading this and not in high school, please take a
second and forward it to all the students you know.