TEACH: Shaping the Future of the Teaching Profession

Nearly everyone can name a teacher who inspired him or her, that pushed them, that maybe even changed their life.

Teaching is the foundation of our educational system. Without teachers, education as we know it would simply not exist. Teachers play an important role in preparing and nurturing the next generation of leaders.

Almost two million teachers are set to retire in the next ten years. Filling those two million jobs with a talented new generation of teachers is among the goals of the revamped TEACH.org, which was officially kicked off this week by Microsoft’s Partners in Learning division.

Secretary Duncan speaks at the TEACH event.

Secretary Duncan speaks at the TEACH event.

“The ability to attract and retain the best talent to the teaching profession will shape public education in this country for the next thirty years,” Secretary Arne Duncan told the crowd at this week’s official launch of the program.

TEACH began as part of the Department of Education’s to recruit the next generation of teachers to join those already in the classroom. Now, the Department is working on the project with Microsoft as part of a public-private partnership. Read more about this transition here.

“The challenges we face are solvable,” said Brad Jupp, ED senior program advisor and former teacher. “They’re solvable due to the partnerships we can make with people like Microsoft.”

Low teacher retention rates, poor compensation, and a general lack of respect surrounding the teaching profession takes a toll on student achievement and the ability to attract talented students to the profession. There is an immediate need to elevate teachers, bringing professionalism and talent to the profession. Read more about ED’s RESPECT Project.

The problems in education can’t be solved by one entity alone. It will take the commitment of the private sector in conjunction with the government to revolutionize public education. TEACH is an example of how companies are coming together and doing their part in the fight to provide every child with a quality public education.

“We have to elevate and strengthen the teaching profession,” said Duncan. “This takes massive cultural change, but the long term impact is extraordinary.”

For more information on the TEACH coalition, visit http://www.teach.org/.

Madalyn Muncy is a junior at Hope College in Holland, Mich., and an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach

Teach Moves to New Partners

“The U.S. faces serious challenges to building a world-class teaching force in coming years,” Secretary Duncan said last week at the Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum in Washington D.C.  In front of nearly seven hundred celebrated teachers from across the globe, Duncan announced that Microsoft’s Partners in Learning division recently won a competition to take over the TEACH campaign, the Department of Education’s campaign to recruit the next generation of great teachers.

The TEACH campaign was launched last year with the goal of recruiting the next generation of great teachers to join those already in the classroom. Over the past year, there have been dozens of TEACH recruiting events across the country, from Los Angeles to Newark, with celebrities from Spike Lee to Oscar de La Hoya. Interest in the campaign flooded the department from diverse stakeholders within and outside the education sector. Over the past year, TEACH has collaborated with such varying allies as Ebony Magazine, the NFL, the NBA, the NCAA, and received letters of support from the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the Congressional Black Caucus, and many others.

In addition, TEACH.gov, the campaigns web portal, managed to do what no other federal website had been able to do successfully. Prior to the development of TEACH.gov, teachers in the U.S. lacked a national, online jobs board, with the ability to look for teaching jobs across multiple states at the same time. The TEACH site technology also created a user-friendly process for people who were contemplating becoming a teacher and enabled them to map out how to navigate from a teacher preparation program to licensure to certification.

TEACH not only launched a major marketing effort designed to recruit teachers, but also to celebrated those already making a difference in the classroom. A series of public service announcements featuring stars from President Obama to JJ Abrams ran online, and on national network and cable stations.  Additionally, an aggressive social media campaign garnered thousands of new followers, and significant traffic to the site and jobs board.

It soon became obvious that the potential power of TEACH was great, and that the movement to elevate the teaching profession and recruit the next generation of great teachers could flourish under the management of a private organization.  The Department held a competition in April, inviting entities both public and private the opportunity to take on this important task. Duncan remarked at last week’s forum that in taking on this task, Partners in Learning “encapsulates the power of partnerships, the promise of technology, and the benefits of international collaboration to strengthen the teaching profession.”

In the coming months, TEACH.gov will switch to TEACH.org, and will expand the marketing, job, and in-person recruiting efforts to increase teacher recruitment and to ensure that the diversity of our classrooms is reflected in the educators that lead them.

Taryn Benarroch, TEACH Project Director

The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love: TEACH Presents Matthew Eddy

Ed. Note: Cross-posted from TEACH.gov. This post is the seventh in a summer-long, weekly blog series celebrating young teachers. We hope these profiles of teachers who have inspired their students and increased their classroom’s performance will inspire the next generation of teachers! Please visit our blog to see the previous posts.

“Education really is a labor of love,” says Matthew Eddy, the Agriculture Education Instructor and FFA Advisor at Southeast Polk Community Schools in Pleasant Hill, Iowa: “you have to have a desire to help people.” But, he continues, “in agriculture education, we are lucky enough to work hard at preparing the future generations of agriculturists who will have such a large impact on what our world will look like. Everyone needs to eat, so I can’t imagine a more important industry to lend my efforts to improve.” Matt hopes that by setting a good example for his students, he’ll inspire them to work towards a career in agriculture—or perhaps teaching. For Matt, “The most fun comes when they find something that clicks with their goals and realize that Ag is pretty ‘cool.’”

Two excellent agriculture educators got Matt interested in the subject early on. Upon graduation, he had the option to go into “farming, teaching, or business and industry—I got started as a first year teacher,” he says.  “I never really planned to teach very long but I suppose the rest is history. To turn a phrase from the Ag Teachers Creed: ‘I got here by chance but have stayed by choice.’”

Matt believes that Career and Technical Education (CTE) is “uniquely positioned to restore our educational system to the greatness it was once known for.” He engages his students by putting their studies in context, and involving them in practices during agricultural cycles. The agricultural science program Matt built and now oversees utilizes the three circle model of agricultural education, in which formal instruction, supervised experience, and work with the Future Farmers of America (FFA), are all equally emphasized. 100% of Matt’s students are members of the FFA and participate in Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). The 256 FFA members at his school comprise the largest chapter in Iowa. As part of the AgScience program, Matt’s students artificially inseminate cattle so that they’ll breed at the Iowa State Fair. There his students not only learn about the entire cycle but also have the opportunity to educate the families attending the fair about the breeding and birthing process. The AgScience program also covers Aqua Culture, Greenhouse care, Landscaping, and Animal Science.

In addition to his work as a teacher, Matt is involved in education at the local, state, and national level. He serves in the Polk County 4-H Club, and on the FFA Fair Board. Under Matt’s leadership, Southeast Polk’s FFA chapter has won the National Chapter Three Star Award six years in a row.

For Matt, the toughest part about teaching is “realizing that 90% of the job is working with students.” He knows that “taking care of the things you can affect, accepting the things you can’t and having enough wisdom to know the difference,” enables him to effectively manage all of his responsibilities. “It’s a tough job,” says Matt. “Teaching takes all of your energy, [and] is never the same from day to day or even hour to hour. [It is] the toughest job you’ll ever love.”

Students Teaching Students: Meet Seven Hang, Angela Delfine, and Cami Jones

Cross-posted from TEACH.gov. This post is the fifth in a summer-long, weekly blog series celebrating young teachers. We hope these profiles of teachers who have inspired their students and increased their classroom’s performance will inspire the next generation of teachers! Please visit our blog to see the previous posts.

This week we’re profiling three teachers from Breakthrough Collaborative, an organization that places high school and college students in the classroom to teach high achieving, high risk younger students. Please meet Seven Hang, Angela Delfine, and Cami Jones.

Breakthrough seeks to “increase academic opportunity for highly motivated, underserved students and put them on the trajectory of a successful college path; and inspire and develop the next generation of teachers and educational leaders.” With their passion for kids and education, and through innovative methods, Hang, Delfine and Jones are doing just that.

All three teachers discovered their passion for education at an early age. Angela enjoyed playing “school” with her dolls when she was younger and began to envision herself in a life-size classroom as she grew older. Angela is now pursuing a Secondary Teaching Certificate in English, as well as a Spanish minor.

After taking a high school class with “the most upbeat, amazing, and inspiring teacher on campus,” Seven began to seriously consider entering the education field. He continues to inspire her today, and is “the kind of teacher [she wants] to be like: goofy, yet still respected in a positive, learning classroom.”

Cami discovered her passion for teaching in college once she had decided to pursue her first passion, literature. She’s now pursuing a degree in Secondary Education and English from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy. Says Cami about her experience in classes at Northwestern: “I quickly learned that educational inequality is one of the most pressing contemporary social justice issues. At the same time, I was [learning] what I loved about literature.” Cami brings her passion for English to the classroom, and simultaneously, teaching renews her passion for literature.

While they’ve only spent several weeks in the classroom so far, all three teachers acknowledge that they’ve faced challenges. Taking care of the small details while focusing on greater goals has proved to be particularly challenging, but Cami is “learning to focus on the daily realities of running a classroom while simultaneously seeing [herself] as part of a larger movement.” Angela and Seven are constantly looking for ways to improve their techniques and inspire their students.

Despite these challenges, Cami asserts that the teaching profession needs more young people. “The system needs people with energy, passion, and new ideas, [people] who are ready to roll up their sleeves and engage completely.” The profession is changing, as are the students in the classroom, and “new, evolving teachers must come forward,” says Seven. “Young people find it easier to develop connections with students.”

Angela has used innovative and creative techniques to keep her students engaged. “I try to plan lessons that reach out to all students: visual, auditory and tactual/kinesthetic learners, artistic students, and introverted students.” After teaching the students food vocabulary in Spanish, she asked them to write a rap with ten of the words and perform at the front of the class. “The students really enjoyed the project!” says Angela.

Angela, Cami, and Seven find their days in the classroom tiring but know they want to continue. “Teaching is hard work,” says Cami, “but it is a career of direct engagement. Even though I leave work every day completely exhausted and knowing I still have a thousand things to do, I also leave with the feeling that I am engaging directly, I am working toward justice, and I am doing meaningful work.” Seven says that as a teacher, “you never stop wanting to improve. You never stop wanting to learn. Teaching does not stop the moment you walk out of your classroom. You become a teacher for life.”

Student-Centered Education: TEACH Presents Christian Mahone

Cross-posted from TEACH.gov.

This post is the fourth in a summer-long, weekly blog series celebrating young teachers. We hope these profiles of teachers who have inspired their students and increased their classroom’s performance will inspire the next generation of teachers! Please visit our blog to see the previous posts.

As a young man attending high school in inner-city Chicago, Christian Mahone was struck by how “uninvolved and unmotivated many of my peers were when I attended school….students did not like attending school because teaching was more teacher centered than student centered. I had teachers who were not involved in their students’ academic or personal lives, which often resulted in a disconnect between what occurred in the classroom and how well students performed.” Christian saw that the teachers’ lack of involvement lead to student apathy, and knew he had to change the atmosphere in the classroom for the next generation.

Since that time, he has worked hard to complete his own education and develop skills that will help him make the changes he wishes to see in his classroom. He graduated this spring from Knox College in Galesburg, IL, with a major in Elementary Education and a double minor in Anthropology and Sociology, and Urban Society. This fall he will teach language arts, math, social studies, and science at Nielson Elementary School in Galesburg, IL.

After watching his peers lose interest in school, Christian will do whatever it takes to keep his own students engaged. He knows that not all of them will have the support at home that he did, and sees himself as a key motivational factor in all areas their lives. “If they don’t have that motivating force in their lives at home… it should come from school or a caring adult like a teacher,” says Christian. “When I saw the discrepancies in our community I could not sit back and let our youth continue to become products of statistics.” Christian tutored a number of his peers while still in high school and says it was those experiences that inspired him to become a teacher, “someone who can change lives in a greater way.”

Christian knows that it’s not enough to just be there for his students in the classroom. He plans to cultivate a culture of learning in his community by blurring the lines between life inside and out of the classroom. He plans to go to his students’ weekend sports games to build a rapport with them that will enable him to connect with them on multiple levels.

Above all he hopes that connecting his students’ academic and personal lives will inspire them to complete their education.

Professor Stephen Schroth of Knox College nominated Christian to be profiled because of his work “to provide Junior Great Books training to a diverse group of middle school students at Lombard Middle School as part of an award-winning program he helped to found and which was funded by a $35,000 grant he and other students received from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board.” Christian is also the 2011 winner of Knox’s Christopher E. Johnson award, given “to the graduating senior who best exemplifies the qualities needed in a great teacher: character, tenacity, dedication, and a positive attitude.”

Christian knows his role will be challenging, but will enable him to make a real difference. He says, “a school may lack certain resources [such as new technology and facilities], but if a school has an excellent and caring teaching staff, that can change the way that students view and react to their education.”

Inspiration Overcomes Anxiety for Future Teachers in Rural Illinois

Why teach?

“This may sound like a hippie answer, but I want to change the world,” said future teacher Joelle Schulda, when asked what drew her to education. “If I can reach just one child—who knows?—that child could grow up to be the president of the United States.”

A small group of future educators shared their career inspirations and concerns with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Rural Outreach John White during a recent TEACH campaign town hall at the Illinois Valley Community College in rural Oglesby, Illinois.

Some current and former IVCC education students stand with ED’s John White: (front, from left) Kris Sienza, White, Megan Mikesell and Marissa Vicich; (second row) Cortney Mikesell, Joelle Shulda, Jackie Heim and Aseret Gonzalez; (back) Abby Derix and Chris Tidmore. Photo courtesy of IVCC.

White was joined by Illinois State University Dean of Education Deborah Curtis, IVCC Education Program Coordinator Jill Urban-Bollis and IVCC Early Education Program Coordinator Diane Christianson for the panel, moderated by IVCC Vice President for Learning and Student Development Rick Pearce.

Aseret Gonzalez said she sees a “lack of mentorship” in her community and wants to help fill that void as an educator.  Another student hopes to follow in the footsteps of numerous family members who are current or former teachers. “I’ve always known that I wanted to teach,” said IVCC student Kris Sienza.  “I chose math because I used to love it, but found the classes to be really boring as I got older.  I want to get kids excited about math.”

While the students’ passion for education was clear, several discussed concerns about their chosen career path.  “Everything that’s known about teaching is very much changing,” remarked Christianson, as the dialogue turned to teacher layoffs, labor disputes, and other issues facing present-day educators such as the restrictive demands of NCLB.

White discussed the President’s Blueprint for Reform which would “stop labeling schools as failures” by changing its accountability provision to focus on students’ growth over time rather than “measuring different kids each year on one test on one day.”

Despite their concerns, the IVCC students embraced the goals of the TEACH campaign described by White — recruiting nearly 1 million new teachers over the next 5 years to replace the retiring teachers of the baby boomer generation, and celebrating today’s great educators.

The participants plan to work with ED’s communications and outreach team for the Great Lakes Region, based in Chicago, to serve as TEACH “ambassadors” with local high schools in order to encourage more students to consider the teaching profession.

Julie Ewart is the Senior Public Affairs Specialist in the Chicago Regional Office. She is the mother of three school-aged children.

Duncan at Bowie State for TEACH Town Hall

Recruiting the next generation of great teachers will be the message of today’s TEACH town hall meeting at Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland, where Secretary Duncan will join Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Bowie State President Dr. Mickey Burnim, as well as local leaders, educators, and students.

TEACH is the Department’s national teacher recruitment campaign aimed at recruiting the next generation of high-quality teachers to join those already in the classroom. Secretary Duncan will highlight the country’s need to recruit nearly 1.7 million new teachers over the next decade to replace the retiring teachers of the baby boomer generation, and to meet the demands of a growing population.

The TEACH campaign also encourages more minorities, especially males, to pursue careers in the classroom. Nationwide, more than 35 percent of public school students are African American or Hispanic, but less than 15 percent of teachers are Black or Latino. Less than two percent of our nation’s teachers are African American males.

Watch today’s town hall LIVE at 1:10 p.m. ET, and visit TEACH.gov to start your pathway to teaching.

The Changing Face of American Education

Cross-posted from the White House Blog.

One of the greatest challenges facing our country is the coming retirement of more than 1 million baby-boomer teachers. This challenge has presented us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to help reshape education in America by recruiting and training the next generation of great American teachers.

Teaching is a rewarding and challenging profession where you can make a lasting impact. Teachers have a positive influence on students, schools, and communities, now and into the future. Schools across the nation are in need of a diverse set of talented teachers, especially in our big cities and rural areas, and especially in the areas of Math, Science, Technology, Special Education, and English Language Learning.

That’s why the department launched the TEACH campaign — a bold new initiative to inspire and empower the most talented and dedicated Americans to become teachers. We know that next to parental support, there is nothing more important to a child’s education than the quality of his or her teachers.

Many of you are already thinking about becoming teachers. The TEACH campaign provides tools at your fingertips to navigate the academic and professional requirements that will credential you to succeed as a teacher in one of our schools. TEACH.gov features an online path to teaching and over 4,000 listed, open teaching positions.

In addition to information on job postingsteacher prep, and financial aid, prospective candidates can watch testimonials from current teachers. Each one was looking for a professionally challenging and financially rewarding career that would allow them to bring their passions, their lives, to work every day.  Go to TEACH.gov and listen to their stories.

We’re also setting up TEACH Town Hall events around the country to encourage discussions in communities and at colleges for those who are preparing to step into the workforce. Help us spread the word about teaching careers. If you know someone who is considering becoming a teacher, send them to TEACH.gov so they can learn about the resources available for their state and district. Also be sure to let them know that we have an application called Raise Your Hand on Facebook that allows prospective teachers to join a community of teachers across the country and ask about teaching as a career.

Together, we can change the face of American education. We can recruit the next generation of great American teachers.

Arne Duncan is Secretary of Education