Help Prevent Violence Against Teachers

Each year, 7 percent of American teachers are threatened with injury and 3 percent are physically attacked by students. In addition to the medical and psychological damage these incidents inflict on teachers and other students, schools accrue a number of costs as a result teacher victimization, including lost days of work and increased workers’ compensation claims. The nationwide costs of teacher victimization to teachers, parents, and taxpayers are calculated to exceed $2 billion annually.
Despite the size and scope of this problem, more research and information is needed to understand the causes of teacher victimization and to decrease the frequency of violent incidents in the classroom. NAESP is asking members to participate in and forward a 10-minute online survey that was designed by the Center for Psychology in Schools and Education (CPSE) at the American Psychological Association. CPSE recently established a task force to create awareness about violence against teachers and help K-12 teachers prevent violent incidents in their classrooms.
The survey is anonymous and will further the research agenda on violence directed against teachers. Survey participants will receive access to a brochure outlining teacher victimization prevention and intervention strategies.
The deadline for responding is May 1. Remember to forward the link to the survey (http://bit.ly/93uAHo) to your classroom teachers!

Pay Teachers More than Principals?

A New York City charter school set to open in 2009 plans to pay its teachers $125,000, while the principal’s starting salary will be $90,000, according to The New York Times. The school’s creator and first principal, Zeke M. Vanderhoek, believes that teacher quality—not accomplished principals or the latest technology—makes a school successful.

Ernest A. Logan, president of the city principals’ union, called the idea of paying the principal less than the teachers “the craziest think I’ve ever heard. ... If you cheapen the role of the school leader, you’re going to have anarchy and chaos.”

All eyes will be on the school when it opens to see if Vanderhoek’s experiment of paying teachers nearly 2.5 times the national average teacher salary—and apparently trivializing the role of principals—will actually work. What do you think?

Where Are the Male Teachers?

The value of a racially diverse staff is a recurrent subject, but gender diversity is just as important. Stereotyping, low pay, and few mentors are among the reasons that the percentage of male teachers is at a forty-year low, according to Newsweek. This dearth is especially alarming given the evidence, however controversial, that teachers’ gender affects student learning. Whatever your take on Thomas Dee’s findings that “learning from a teacher of the opposite gender has a detrimental effect on students’ academic progress,” it is undisputable that children need strong male and female role models from an early age. In elementary schools, the problem is even more distinct, as male teachers number only nine percent.

What Does It Take to Retain Teachers?

What made you remain in the teaching profession, despite the challenges you encountered? And now that you’re a principal, what are you doing to ensure that you retain your good teachers? According to a recent study by the California State University Center for Teacher Quality, California teachers cited having meaningful input in the decision-making process at their schools and strong, collaborative relationships with their colleagues as reasons they remain in the profession. They also mentioned the importance of effective system supports such as adequate time planning, and resources for classroom learning materials. No one will argue that teaching is not a difficult job, but what do you as principals do to keep teachers motivated and wanting to come to work day after day?

And the Winner is . . . .

At a White House ceremony yesterday, Andrea Peterson was named the 2007 National Teacher of the Year. Peterson is a music teacher at Monte Cristo Elementary School in Granite Falls, Washington, and received the award for her “community focus, teamwork with other teachers, and a desire to see all students succeed.” Though it is rare for a specialist to be bestowed the award, Peterson’s superintendent said “in the case of Andrea Peterson it only makes sense” because her “music program is not a complement to our basic education program; it is an integral part of it.” Among Peterson’s accomplishments are: revitalizing the music program in her district with the addition of auditioned choirs, performances, and bands, and introducing a cross-curriculum music program.  The National Teacher of the Year Program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

Number of Nationally Board Certified Teachers Reaches All-Time High

Speaking of NCLB and "highly qualified", there are now 55,000 nationally board certified teachers, three times the amount there were five years ago. While there is no direct correlation between national board teacher certification and improved student achievement, principals welcome teachers who seek additional certification that can help them move towards becoming a “highly qualified teacher.”

For example, when Principal Jan Borelli took the helm of her school three years ago, the school had been on the state’s low performing list for five years and had one nationally board certified teacher (NBCT) at the time. The school is now off of that list and has two NBCT's and four candidates who will know their results next fall. Borelli says the school also has three more teachers who have already applied for next year. 

“I am not sure if there is a correlation between test scores and NBCT,” says Borelli. “I do know, however, that they are excellent teachers who are constantly striving to improve.”

Does your school have any NBCT's? If so, what impact has it had on teacher quality or student achievement?

Rewriting the Book on Science Instruction

The University of Rhode Island School of Education—with a grant from the National Science Foundation—recently launched a five-year study to examine what prospective and current elementary teachers need to develop their teaching skills using exploratory and inquiry-based science lessons. Researchers will ask student education majors and mid-career teachers to discuss the current teaching of science in elementary schools, their content knowledge, and their readiness to change teaching practices.

A Sprint to the Finish

In the midst of all the meetings and paperwork that principals have, there is not always enough time to conduct daily classroom observations. But principals in Charlotte, North Carolina, are finding that informal "Three-Minute Classroom Walk-Throughs" can be a welcome complement to formal teacher observations. While there was some initial skepticism to the technique that has principals dashing through the classroom in three-minute intervals, principals and teachers there agree that it is an effective way to help improve teacher quality and also sends a strong message that "academics are a top priority." Tell us what you think about using this technique or share other techniques that you use for informal classroom observations.