Summer Seminar Highlights Personalized Learning

On July 10, the Department of Education hosted a Teacher Summer Seminar titled, “What Teachers Need to Know about Personalized Learning.” The seminar provided perspectives on the meaning, purpose, and future of personalized learning from Department of Education staff; teachers from Maryland and Virginia also shared how they use real-time data to individualize instruction and engage students with varied abilities.

The archived seminar and PowerPoint presentations used in the seminar are all available online at the Summer Seminar webpage.

Summer Seminars at Six: An Introduction to Education Policy

I’m pleased to invite you to a series of summer seminars hosted by the Department of Education called “Summer Seminars at Six: An Introduction to Education Policy.”

The seminars are designed to share information about education policy that will help teachers to be engaged and participate in policy discussions at the federal, state and district level. Led by teachers working at the Department, along with other staff, there will be opportunities for questions and discussion both in person and online.

Dates:  Every other Thursday:  July14, July 28, August 11 and August 25.
Time: 6:00 PM ET-7:00 PM ET
Location: U.S. Department of Education’s LBJ Building (400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20202) and online through U-Stream.

  • An ED 101 Primer, Thursday, July 14. Questions to be answered include:
    • What is the mission or purpose of the U.S. Department of Education?
    • How is education funded in the United States?
    • What is the organizational structure of ED, and where can I go for help with my issue?
    • What is Title I and how does it work?
  • Who’s on First? State and Federal Roles and Responsibilities for Education, Thursday, July 28. Questions to be answered include:
    • What are the states’ and the federal government’s responsibilities for education?
    • What is the Common Core?
    • What are the primary ED funding streams and competitive programs?
    • What is Race to the Top and how does it support teachers and students?
  • Fixing What’s Broken in No Child Left Behind, Thursday, August, 11. Questions to be answered include:
    • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act and No Child Left Behind—same or different?
    • What problems are teachers, schools, and states having with NCLB?
    • In their Blueprint for Reform, what do President Obama and Secretary Duncan propose to do to fix what is not working in NCLB?
    • What does the Blueprint propose with regard to testing?
    • What is the federal School Improvement Grant program for low-performing schools and how might it affect my school or state?
  • Leading Their Profession: Teachers and Education Policy, Thursday, August 25. Questions to be answered include:
    • What are ED’s proposals for strengthening teaching and supporting teachers?
    • What does the Blueprint say about teacher evaluations?
    • What can teachers do to get involved in educational issues both at the national level and in their state or district?
    • What are the Teacher Incentive Fund and Title II?

Register to attend the Summer Seminars at the U.S. Department of Education or to view the Summer Seminars online through U-Stream.

Thanking Mrs. Silverman

Cross posted from the ED.gov blog.

I still remember how nervous I was during my first day of school, as a new kindergartener at Fremont Elementary. As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, I only spoke Spanish at home. So, I was worried about how I would fare in school. Would I understand what my teacher was saying to me? How would I make friends? What if I didn’t like school?Mrs.Silverman

Thanks to Mrs. Silverman, I didn’t have to worry about any of that. She welcomed me into her classroom and helped me fit in, even going so far as to set up a play date for me and a classmate, Brenda, who would go onto be my best friend. Gradually, she taught me my second language, while never devaluing or trying to erase my first. Most importantly, she showed me how magical learning could be, and set me on a path to academic success.

It is in large part because of Mrs. Silverman that I became a teacher. To this day, I have a photo of her with some of my classmates and me that appeared in a district newsletter. And whenever I have the opportunity to speak about the power of education, my story always seems to come back to Mrs. Silverman. Every so often, I do a search online for her, to see if I can find her, and tell her in person how much she’s done for me.  I haven’t found her, but I’ll continue to share broadly my memories of Mrs. Silverman. Maybe that’s my way of thanking her over and over again for all that she did for me – though I sure would like the chance to tell her in person.

How Our Blueprint Supports Teachers

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the perks of this job is that I get to meet with teachers from all across the country. I’ve met with many teachers who are supportive of this Administration’s proposals. But I’ve also heard from teachers who question how this Administration’s proposals will actually help them in their day-to-day roles. I want to address these teachers with this post today, because I truly believe our Blueprint for Reform is built to support teachers as they develop and strengthen their craft.

The Department’s proposal for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the major legislation for elementary and secondary education, challenges the nation to embrace education standards that would put America on a path to global leadership. It provides incentives for states to adopt academic standards that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace, and creates accountability systems that measure student growth toward meeting the goal that all children graduate and succeed in college.  In our Blueprint for Reform, we propose common-sense strategies to move us in the right direction. Many of you have expressed great relief that the Blueprint will fix the issues that came with No Child Left Behind.

I believe that teachers need be supported. So, the Blueprint proposes a combination of programs to help support states as they implement reforms to better identify, recruit, prepare, develop, retain, reward, and advance effective teachers, principals, and school leadership teams in high-need schools.  These programs give local school districts flexibility in determining what practices best meet the needs of their teachers and principals.  Our plan treats teachers as professionals by increasing funding, responding to teachers’ voices, sharing responsibility, and improving evaluations.  Our plan rewards excellence by rewarding success, focusing on growth, supporting teachers in closing gaps, and improving achievement through flexibility. Finally, our plan gives teachers support by increasing collaboration time, holding preparation programs accountable, funding relevant professional development, and  improving principal leadership.

You may want to read our publications “Built for Teachers” – it provides a summary of some of the reasons that teachers support the president’s Blueprint. It is available at:http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/blueprint/teachers/index.html.

And to all the wonderful teachers out there — thank you for all of the hard work you do for our students. You are truly appreciated by me, and by this Administration.