Before The Bell
Jan. 11, 2013

Study: What makes a good teacher
The Washington Post
Even as most of the nation's 15,000 public school districts roll out new systems to evaluate teachers, many are still struggling with a central question: What's the best way to identify an effective educator? After a three-year, $45 million research project, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation believes it has some answers. The most reliable way to evaluate teachers is to use a three-pronged approach built on student test scores, classroom observations by multiple reviewers and teacher evaluations from students themselves, the foundation found.More

New guides help school leaders support Common Core State Standards implementation
District Administration Magazine
Achieve, in partnership with College Summit, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, has released a series of action briefs on the role of school counselors, secondary school leaders and elementary school leaders in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.More

Promoting Hinduism? Parents demand removal of school yoga class
During first period at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School in Encinitas, Calif., Kristen McCloskey leads about two dozen third-graders through some familiar yoga poses. "All right, so let's do our opening sequence A," she says, instructing the kids. "Everyone take a big inhale, lift those arms up. Look up." At the end of the half-hour class, 8-year-old Jacob Hagen says he feels energized and ready for the rest of the day. "Because you get to stretch out and it's good to be the first class because it wakes you up," he says. Schools across the country are focusing more on teaching students to make healthy choices; Encinitas Superintendent Tim Baird says yoga is just one element of the district's physical education curriculum.More

DanceDance Revolution comes to the classroom
It won't be long before students are playing video games at school. A new interactive fitness game announced at International CES 2013 brings at-home fitness video games to school. DanceDance Revolution Classroom Edition was made with school physical education class in mind. With the DanceDance Revolution games, users follow steps to dance choreography while listening to hit songs. Players hold a control that senses their movements or move on a mat, depending on the game console used. Players get points based on how close their moves matched-up to the ones on the screen. The fun calorie-burning game is played by both adults and children. This particular edition was made to bring that same idea to schools. More

Teachers say they're not equipped to deal with grieving students
The Denver Post
Seven out of 10 teachers nationwide had at least one student in class who has lost someone close to them in the past year, according to a survey by the American Federation of Teachers and the New York Life Foundation. On average, teachers reported interacting with eight students who’d experienced a loss in the past year. Of those who had grieving children in their classrooms, 67 percent reported the loss in a child's life translated to poor academic performance, and 87 percent said the kids had trouble concentrating in class. Yet only 7 percent of teachers who responded to the survey say they have ever had training in how to deal with a grieving student.More

Tips to keep kids safe while playing outside in the cold
Medical News Today
Cold winds, icy rain and, in some places, snow — Old Man Winter is here. With the snowball fights, snow forts and snowy hills come some serious dangers. In addition to ducking from flying snow balls and avoiding out-of-control skiers, parents need to be on the lookout for dangerously low body temperatures and frostbite related to cold weather exposure.More

Discipline policies shift with views on what works
Education Week
If students aren't in school, they can't learn. But if they are disruptive or violent, they may shortchange other students' chances at an education. Attempted solutions to that unresolved school-discipline dilemma have yielded state and federal policies behind millions of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions during the past two decades.More

AAP: Each school district should have a school physician
HealthDay news via Medical Xpress
School physicians play an important role in promoting the biopsychosocial well-being of children in school settings, and every school district should have a school physician, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement published in Pediatrics.More

Bringing passion and collaboration to professional development
THE Journal
Digital learning advocate and teacher trainer Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach is looking to shake up the way teachers connect, collaborate and work with students — but not in the way you might think. "One of the things I tell [teachers] is that I don't want you to change anything about your teaching. I want you to change everything about your learning, and do that first." For years, Nussbaum-Beach has concentrated her efforts on helping teachers become "connected educators" who are able to leverage both online and face-to-face learning networks to find the right people to connect and collaborate with on topics related to their passions and professional growth. More

How can educators prepare kids for a connected world?
Educators are always striving to find ways to make curriculum relevant in students' everyday lives. More and more teachers are using social media around lessons, allowing students to use their cellphones to do research and participate in class, and developing their curriculum around projects to ground learning around an activity. These strategies are all part of a larger goal to help students connect to social and cultural spaces.More

Danger in the classroom? Teachers say yes
With ongoing budget cuts in public education, many teachers across America worry that their jobs are in danger. But a new report suggests that these teachers might also consider whether their jobs are dangerous. Violence against teachers is a more widespread problem than previously thought, according to an article recently published by the American Psychological Association in the journal American Psychologist.More

Why teachers secretly hate grading papers
The Atlantic (commentary)
John T. Tierney, a former college professor and high-school teacher, writes: "Despite what many outsiders may think of teachers and their work lives, it's a demanding occupation. My wife and I received a Christmas card from a former colleague of hers, an accomplished woman who previously had a successful career in economic analysis of energy issues and who recently had become a high school teacher. She wrote that it is 'the hardest job' she's ever had — also the most satisfying."More

School climate, discipline and safety: Gauging educator attitudes
Education Week
Teachers and school-based administrators have valuable firsthand experience with school climate, discipline and safety. To learn more about educators' views on those topics, the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center conducted an online survey of teachers and school administrators who are registered users of, the Education Week website. More than 1,300 respondents completed the survey, which was fielded in September 2012. Those respondents included administrators, teachers and instructional specialists (such as curriculum coordinators and instructional coaches).More

Other countries facing common education technology struggles
eSchool News
U.S. educators spend much time touting the benefits of taking a global look at classroom technology, but many countries struggle with the same education technology challenges facing the U.S., including dwindling funds, accessibility issues and adequate teacher support. "This is a challenging time today in education technology," said Robert Martellacci, president and publisher of MindShare Learning, a Canadian ed-tech consulting, news and events firm.More

Parent involvement in early literacy
Parent involvement is the number one predictor of early literacy success and future academic achievement. However, according to a 2007 report by National Endowment for the Arts, there are more literate people in the United States who don't read than those who are actually illiterate. How do we change that pattern for the future of our children?More

States show spotty progress on education gauges
Education Week
The 17th edition of Education Week's Quality Counts continues the report's tradition of tracking key education indicators and grading the states on their policy efforts and outcomes. Each year, Quality Counts provides new results for a portion of the policy-and-performance categories that form the framework for the report's State-of-the-States analysis. The 2013 edition presents updated scores and letter grades, for the states and the nation as a whole, in three of the six major areas tracked in the report.More

National survey reveals parents' deep concern about protecting kids from violence
District Administration Magazine
A new nationwide survey of parents commissioned by Common Sense Media and the Center for American Progress and released today finds that 75 percent of parents say shielding children from violence is difficult. Seventy-five percent of parents blame easy access to guns, and 77 percent of parents believe media violence, such as content in TV, movies and video games, contributes to America's culture of violence.More

California teachers fund moves to divest from firearms
The Associated Press via ABC News
The nation's largest teacher pension fund took the first step toward divesting from companies that make guns and high-capacity ammunition magazines that are illegal in California. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer made a motion to begin the divestment process after pension fund officials determined that the fund invests in the owner of a company that manufactured one of the weapons used in the Connecticut school shooting. The California State Teachers' Retirement System's investment committee unanimously approved the motion.More

Hundreds of Texas, Ohio teachers flock to gun training
School teachers in Texas are flocking to free firearms classes and hundreds more in Ohio have signed up for training in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school massacre, some vowing to protect their students with guns even at the risk of losing their jobs. In Ohio, more than 900 teachers, administrators and school employees signed up for the Buckeye Firearms Association's newly created, three-day gun training program, the association said.More

Bill seeks K-12 carbon monoxide detectors
The San Diego Union-Tribune
California schools could soon be required to install carbon monoxide detectors. "It is common sense to protect our children's safety and ensure they have a healthy learning environment," Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, said in introducing the legislation. Weber's Assembly Bill 56, which is still being refined, would require that carbon monoxide detectors be installed at all new and renovated schools starting Jan. 1. The measure proposes that detectors be placed near each furnace.More

Bodies, minds in shape with classes after classes
The Columbus Dispatch
For an extra four hours, middle-school students in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, can exercise their culinary skills, dabble in Mandarin Chinese and shake their hips a la Zumba. This year, Hannah Ashton Middle School has joined with a local day-care center to offer classes and activities through 7 p.m. at the school. The school's Achieve After 3 has Spanish, Chinese and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes. There's also cooking, Zumba and a pingpong club. Students can work with the school's artist in residence and connect with counselors. Those struggling academically can boost their skills with online lessons, and teachers are also available for homework help.More

Save the date: Jeans and Jerseys
Join NAESP for Jeans and Jerseys, Wednesday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m., at The Center Club in Baltimore. Admission includes music, food, drinks, book signings by a celebrity author, a silent auction and much more. Get your tickets by Jan. 31 and only pay $40. After Jan. 31, pay $50. Tickets will also be available at the door. For more information, email

Sign up for webinar on brain-based classroom strategies
Learn why incorporating brain-based strategies into elementary classrooms is so urgently important. In "Brain-Based Strategies for Today's Schools," on Jan. 24, two experts will share how schools can incorporate brain-based principles, and the difference it can make to teaching and learning. This webinar will provide concrete, practical strategies for principals and teachers to use in their classrooms.More