Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 21, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Posts On The Annual MetLife Survey Of The American Teacher

The annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher came out today, and I thought I’d share some info on it, as well as share my posts on previous editions of it.

First off, you can find this year’s edition hot off the press here.

The Educated Reporter gives a useful summary. I summarize what it has to say about parent engagement here.

Here, in my mind, is the most important take away from the report that I’ve seen so far, but I haven’t really gotten a chance to review it carefully:

Principal and teacher job satisfaction is declining. Principals’ satisfaction with their jobs in the public schools has decreased nine percentage points since it was last measured in 2008. In that same period, teacher satisfaction has dropped precipitously by 23 percentage points, including a five-point decrease in the last year, to the lowest level it has been in the survey in 25 years. A majority of teachers report that they feel under great stress at least several days a week, a significant increase from 1985 when this was last measured.

Here are my posts on previous MetLife surveys:

“MetLife Survey of the American Teacher” Released Today (2012 Report)

Believing That Every Student Can Succeed Academically (2010 Report)

“Hybrid” Teachers & Engaging Parents (2010 Report)

The Saddest School-Related Statistic I’ve Heard In Awhile…. (2010 Report)

March 7, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“MetLife Survey of the American Teacher” Released Today

The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy, the 28th in an annual series commissioned by MetLife and conducted by Harris Interactive, was released today.

You can read the press release summarizing its findings here, and the entire report here.

Here’s one paragraph from the summary:

Teacher job satisfaction has fallen by 15 percentage points since 2009, the last time the MetLife survey queried teachers on this topic, from 59 percent to 44 percent responding they are very satisfied. This rapid decline in job satisfaction is coupled with a large increase in the number of teachers reporting that they are likely to leave teaching for another occupation (17 percent in 2009 vs. 29 percent today). Teachers are also more than four times as likely now than they were five years ago to say that they do not feel their job is secure (34 percent today vs. 8 percent in 2006, the last time this question was asked). In addition, 53 percent of parents and 65 percent of teachers today say that teachers’ salaries are not fair for the work they do.

I haven’t had time to read the full report tonight, but will write a more lengthy post about it when I do. You read my reflections on previous MetLife Surveys here.

Here’s another take on this year’s survey at The Washington Post: Teacher job satisfaction plummets — Survey.

March 12, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Part Two of MetLife Survey Of American Teacher Released

Part Two Of The MetLife Survey Of The American Teacher has just been released.

I posted earlier this month about Part One of the survey — see The Saddest School-Related Statistic I’ve Heard In Awhile….

I’m just going to share a couple of items from Part that stand-out for me. For further thoughts on the report, I’d encourage you to read Today’s Education News: Rife with Contradictions by Barnett Berry of the Center for Teaching Quality.

The first statistic that stood out for me was this one on connecting with parents:

Teachers and principals believe that the most important factors for improving student achievement are having adequate public funding and support, and involving parents. Nine in ten teachers and principals believe that having adequate public funding and support for education (92% of teachers and 96% of principals) and that strengthening ties among schools and parents (88% of teachers and 89% ofprincipals) are very important for improving student achievement.

It’s great to hear that there is that high of a belief in the power of connecting better with parents. One question, though, is do teachers and principals see parent engagement or parent involvement as the way to strengthen those ties (see Expert Advice about Parent Engagement: An Interview with Larry Ferlazzo to learn more about the difference between the two.

Here’s another potentially more disturbing part of the report:

A majority of teachers (58%) and principals (61%) strongly agree that their school does a good job of teaching students who are English Language Learners, particularly schools with at least two-thirds ELL students (75% of teachers and 77% of principals in higher ELL schools). However, from students’ point of view, schools are not doing as well. Only one-quarter of students (25%) strongly agree that their school does a good job of helping students who are learning to speak English.

That’s certainly a disconcerting difference between the teacher/principal view and the student view. However, the key to its importance — for me at least — is if that 25% is from all the students surveyed or just from those who are English Language Learners. If it’s from all the students, it’s not surprising that they, like many people, might share misconceptions about how quickly ELL’s are supposed to be able to develop proficiency in the language and might question what kind of teaching is going on.

However, if the answers to that question only come from ELL’s, then it’s an entirely different story, and I’d be just as concerned about that statistic as I was about the one I blogged about earlier this month.

I’ll try to get the answer to that question and post the response.

In the meantime, please feel free to leave your thoughts about the report in the comments section.

July 30, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Best and Worst Education News of 2013 — So Far


I need to add one more “Best Of 2013 – So Far” list to the ones I’ve posted so far, and that’s my annual “The Best And Worst Education News Of 2013 — So Far.”

As usual, I don’t presume to say it’s all-encompassing, so I hope you’ll take time to share your own choices in the comment section. I’ll list the ones I think are the best first, followed by the worst. It’s too hard to rank them within those categories, so I’m not listing them in any order.

You might also be interested in previous editions of this list:

The best — and worst — education news of 2012

The Best (and Worst) Education News of 2011

The Best (and Worst) Education News of 2010

The Best Education News Of 2013 — So Far:

* The successful boycott of the unnecessary MAP standardized test by teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle that spread to six other local schools and inspired educators everywhere.  Teachers who participated in the boycott were not disciplined (as had been threatened) and using the MAP tests have now been made optional.  Garfield teachers’ strategy of organizing a united front of teachers, parents and students demonstrated that collective action can have a major impact on education policy that affects our classrooms.

* Passage and approval of California Governor Jerry Brown’s new funding formula that not only increases school funding across the board, but provides more monies to districts with higher numbers of low-income students.  We can only hope that it will be a model for other states to follow.

* The deaths of children (and adults) as a result of the terrifying Oklahoma tornado will never be considered anything but awful news.  But the heroic response of local educators risking their own lives to save their students is another reminder that teachers do put the interests of children ahead of their own.

* Two new exciting books, authored by some of the best minds in education policy, were published: Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools by Diane Ravitch and Teacherpreneurs: Innovative Teachers Who Lead But Don’t Leave by Barnett Berry, Ann Byrd and Alan Wieder. These “must-reads” are follow-ups to their previous exceptional books.

* More and more research was published supporting the view that, yes, our students need good schools, but if we’re truly serious about providing them with genuine opportunities,  what really needs to happen are major economic and political changes.  I suspect quite a few of us are tired of hearing the refrain of “No Excuses” when we point out this reality.

* And more and more research was published pointing out that, you know, schools in the United States are generally doing pretty well, though you wouldn’t know that by a lot of public rhetoric.

* Charlotte Danielson is the guru for many districts that are initiating new teacher evaluation programs.  Arthur Goldstein discovered a video of her declaring that standardized test scores should not be used in those teacher evaluations.  I wonder if district administrators are listening?  And, speaking of test scores and their validity in determining teacher quality, an important study determined that teacher success in helping students’ develop non-cognitive skills (an area of high-interest these days) had no relation to their Value Added Measurement (VAM) score.

* In his annual appearance on this list, Harvard professor Roland Fryer failed once again to prove that extrinsic motivation increased student achievement.  One of this year’s failed experiments was giving students cellphones and sending them daily “inspirational” text messages.  It didn’t work, but it did receive an advertising award.

* The millions of students who had great learning experiences in their schools this year.


The Worst Education News Of 2013 — So Far:

 * The North Carolina legislature went off the deep end in a number of areas, including eliminating teacher tenure and pay raises.

* Attacks on low-income communities continued with massive school closures in Chicago, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

* Here we go again — Cleveland’s newspaper published the Value Added ratings of teachers.

* Sadness, on a number of levels, in seeing the indictments of 34 Atlanta educators, including its former Superintendent, as a result of the test-cheating scandal there.

* Two surveys found what many of us knew already — that teacher morale is plummeting in the face of “school reform.”

* Bill Gates’ PBS-televised TED Talk where he announced that billions of dollars should be spent videotaping all teachers.  Almost simultaneously, the teacher he showed a video of in his talk said she disagreed with him.  And, even though his foundation announced at the same time they want to  start listening to teachers more, there was no chorus of “preach on, Bill!” from educators across the U.S.

* The millions of students who are not getting the education they deserve.

Again, feel free to point out what I’ve missed!

June 28, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

All My 2013 “The Best…” Lists (So Far) On Education Policy In One Place


I’ve posted quite a few “The Best…” lists on education policy issues this year, and thought readers might find it useful if I collected them all in one post.

You might also be interested in:

All My 2012 “The Best…” Lists On Education Policy In One Place

A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On School Reform Issues — 2011

The Best “The Best…” Lists On School Reform Issues — 2010

Here are all my 2013 (So Far) “Best” lists on education policy issues:

The Best Posts & Articles On The New NCLB Reauthorization Bill

A Beginning List Of The Best Posts & Articles On The Charter School CREDO Study

The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2013 – So Far

The Best Of The Hashtag #SaidNoEducationVendorEver

The Best Evidence For Why Giving Schools “Report Cards” Is Bad — Help Me Find More

The Best Resources On The Memo Warning Rhee About Cheating (“It seems to me a responsible executive really ought to have looked further”)

The Best Posts On LA’s Banning Of Suspensions For “Willful Defiance” (Along With Commentary From An LA Teacher)

The Best Posts & Articles On MOOC’s — Help Me Find More

My Choices For The Best Posts From The Shanker Blog

The Best Posts & Articles On The Impact Of School Closures — Suggest More!

The Best Resources For Learning About Ability Grouping & Tracking — Help Me Find More

The Best Posts On The Annual MetLife Survey Of The American Teacher

The Best Resources On Peer Assistance & Review (PAR) Programs

A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On The Seattle Standardized Test Boycott

A Beginning List Of The Best Posts On Gates’ Final MET “Effective Teaching” Report

March 28, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Gallup Poll: ” U.S. Teachers Love Their Lives, but Struggle in the Workplace”

The New York Times this morning ran a pretty inaccurate headline and article about a new Gallup Poll related to workplace “well-being” (see Beleaguered? Not Teachers, a Poll on ‘Well-Being’ Finds) and tried to use it to question results of a recent Met Life poll that indicated sharply declining teacher satisfaction.

Here are direct quotes from Gallup that tell the real story:

Despite earning top marks in most areas of wellbeing, teachers’ answers to various questions about their workplace produces a 49.9 Work Environment Index score, which is eighth out of 14 occupation groups. The nation’s educators rank sixth in saying their “supervisor treats me more like a partner than a boss.” And they are dead-last –14th — in saying their “supervisor always creates an environment that is trusting and open.”

About seven in 10 teachers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their work environment. Thirty-one percent are engaged. As teacher engagement is the No. 1 predictor and driver of student engagement, these findings have serious implications for students and administrators….

February 26, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

February’s “The Best…” Lists — There Are Now 1,072 Of Them

Here’s my monthly round-up of new “The Best…” lists I posted this month (you can see all 1,072 of them categorized here):

The Best Resources For International Mother Language Day

The Best Multimedia On The Russian Meteor

The Best Resources For Learning About The Next Papal Election

The Best Info On Skills Employers Are Looking For In Job-Seekers

The Best Resources On Why Raising The Minimum Wage Is Important

The Best Resources About The New Push For Immigration Reform

The Best Geography Sites For Learning About Europe

The Best Resources For Learning About Flight

The “Best” Multimedia News Content In The World

My Best Posts On Parent “Academies” & “Universities”

The Best Posts On The Annual MetLife Survey Of The American Teacher

The Best Resources On The Value & Practice Of Having Older Students Mentoring Younger Ones

The Best Ways To Deal With Rudeness In Class

The Best Sports Videos To Use With English Language Learners

The Best Resources For Learning To Use The Video App “Twine”

The Best Tools For Creating Visually Attractive Quotations For Online Sharing

January 18, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

Interview Of The Month: Two Authors Of The New Book “Teaching 2030”

The book, Teaching 2030:What We Must Do for Our Students and Our Public Schools–Now and in the Future, is being released this week. It’s an amazing book on a number of levels, and I suspect it will be the most influential and discussed education-related book this year.

It was written by Barnett Berry (check out Barnett’s blog when you can) and twelve classroom teachers from around the United States, and coordinated by The Center For Teaching Quality.

As regular readers know, each month I interview people in the education world about whom I want to learn more. You can see read those past interviews here.

This month, I was lucky enough to interview two of the thirteen authors of “Teaching 2030.” One is Barnett Berry, and the other Ariel Sacks. Ariel teaches seventh grade English in Brooklyn, NY. She can be found blogging about teaching practice and education policy at On the Shoulders of Giants.

What would you say are the main points made in the book?

Barnett: We have a bold vision for the teaching profession of tomorrow where the lines of distinction between those who teach in schools and those who lead them are blurred. There are at least three big ideas you will find in TEACHING 2030:

1.Teachers will serve as brokers of learning, in and out of cyberspace, and experts in defining and measuring student and school success for the public;

2. Teaching will be a well-compensated professional career with differentiated pathways into the classroom, guaranteeing that every child has a well-prepared team of educators, led by teachers whose expertise weaves in and out of digital space; and

3. A leadership force of 600,000 “teacherpreneurs” — classroom experts who teach students regularly — will be mobilized for reform as they also serve as teacher educators, policy researchers, community organizers, and trustees of their profession.

Ariel: As I reread the book and think about the 4 emergent realities we shaped it around, I’m starting to see these ideas as a movement that involves radical change in equal parts to (1) the student’s experience and of school and (2) the teacher’s experience within the teaching profession. We build out ideas for making both three-dimensional and suited to the needs of a rapidly changing world.

For students, this means more differentiated and dynamic pathways for learning, including a blend of virtual and face-to-face, local and global, experiences and relationships, as teachers become facilitators of diverse learning communities and curators of knowledge. For teachers, this means more differentiated and dynamic pathways through the profession, with opportunities to develop new context-specific areas of expertise, solve problems in real-time, lead both locally and nationally, and be compensated based on the value and impact of their work.

For me, the book reveals the ways in which students and teachers are stuck in the same outdated system that provides too limited options in a world in flux, and how we can redesign teaching and learning to be more flexible, so as to meet the needs of students and communities we have yet to even imagine.

What prompted you to write the book, and what was the process used to develop it?

Barnett: Every since I left classroom almost 3 decades ago I have been a student of teaching — which the sociologist have labeled a semi-profession. Since my days at a graduate student in the early 1980s, my work as a researcher and now an advocate has been to advance a fully realized teaching profession, finally freed from its 19th century industrial roots and ready to meet the demands of 21st century learners. I wanted to develop a story that embraces and celebrates the future of teaching and the many millions of teachers who nobly serve students. I also wanted to tell a story that transcend the current narrative of self-proclaimed school reformers who pit teachers versus administrators while pressing for simplistic policy prescriptions far removed from the realities of teaching, today and tomorrow.

But I did not want to write this story alone. I have been out of the classroom way too long. Putting expert teacher voices square in the middle of the national debate on school reform is a central mission of the Center forTeaching Quality. I knew that my front-line colleagues in our virtual community of expert teachers (Teacher Leaders Network), with their deep understanding of students and schools today, would immeasurably enrich a book about the future of teaching. They did.

Ariel: When I received a call from Barnett about working on a project about the future of education, I was instantly hooked. Co-creating Teaching 2030 turned out to be one of the greatest exercises in imagination that I’ve ever been presented with. It has been so meaningful, because the landscape of teaching and learning IS changing a lot right now, but teachers have largely been excluded from the decision making processes behind these changes.

As we do get more involved in education policy, we often find ourselves in a position of “fighting back” against decisions that were already made without us. Our teacher voice can easily be labelled as a contrarian one, which is not the best, when most of us in education have in common that we want the best for our nation’s children–we just see from different vantage points. What we need to establish is that the teacher vantage point is absolutely indispensable, since we are the single most important factor in our the education of students. Looking toward the future, as Barnett says as well, we were able to transcend the current debates in school reform and create a vision worth fighting FOR.

One piece of our process that I’d like to share is about how we came up with the structure for the book. After our first face-to-face meeting, each of us wrote a chapter (an essay, essentially) on one of four sub-topics of the future of teaching. The collection of essays was very interesting, but when we came back together and shared our ideas and pushed our thinking about the future further, we came to the conclusion that the structure was “so 2009,” and we wanted a structure that was closer to our vision of 2030.

Co-writer Jose Vilson recalled a book he’d read about Muhammad Ali that was structured as a conversation between Ali and various other people. We decided to chop and remix the ideas as a conversation between all of us, Barnett, and featuring the many students whose stories directed us toward our future vision. TLN co-founder and editor extraordinaire, John Norton, was instrumental in the chopping and remixing that shaped the progressive book structure.

What kind of impact do you hope the book will have?

Barnett: We hope to engage a broader group of community leaders, who care about teachers, but have yet to fully grasp the complexities of teaching now and in the future. We hope to connect these community leaders, with a growing group of teachers who are ready to take action together in pressing policymakers to invest in teaching in new and powerful ways. We hope to leverage a new generation of teacher leaders, who transform their unions into the professional guilds they need to be. And this is what our New Millennium Initiative is all about — turning the ideals of TEACHING 2030 into meaningfgul change for the profession that makes all others possible.

Ariel: I’d like to see this book be a springboard for an ongoing conversation that needs to take place at all levels and corners of our current schooling system about the future of teaching and public education. In particular, I hope that teachers, from preservice teacher candidates to veterans, see this as a helpful starting place to begin to create the future of our profession rather than continuing to react to the changes that come from outside.

What do you see as the main obstacles to the proposals you make in the book? And how do you think they can best be overcome?

Barnett: We have to overcome the 15,000 hour problem — i.e., the average amount of time a typical American has spent in the public schools as a student. As result too many people who make education policy think they know far about teaching than they do. Words alone will not be enough to tell the story of TEACHING 2030 — but powerful images and new messages from new messangers can. This is why part of what we are now doing, with support of MetLife Foundation (our primary supporter of Teaching 2030), is to build multimedia images of key concepts of the book, and help growing numbers of teacher leaders tell their own story.

In the end if we are going to realize the bold vision of TEACHING 2030 we must market to the public that teaching is complex work, in ways that the federal government marketed cigarette smoking as bad for your health. Only then will the public invest in teaching new ways and press the policymakersthey vote into office to make the tough political decisions they have failed to make in the past.

Ariel: Because teachers’ voices are so essential to the conversation begun in this book, the biggest obstacle I see is that most practicing teachers are so busy with teaching they will not have time enough or an efficient vehicle for participation in the discussions and action steps that need to take place in the years to come. One of the first steps will be to create a significant number of hybrid positions for teachers to teach half-time and lead in various capacities in and outside of their school contexts. We can’t just create a few such roles in isolation, because most schools, logistically, can’t just drop a strong teacher to a half-time position without a system to help with the hiring and funding of the other half time position that would need to exist.

Schools can’t be completely on their own to free teachers up to lead in and out of their schools, because the impetus for this kind of change is not as strong on the ground as it looks when you see the big picture of where our schools are going if we do NOT begin to take these to get teachers involved in the redesign of our school systems.

One thing that is surely happening is that great teachers are leaving the classroom in droves to increase their autonomy, career status, and earning capacity. We need to respond to that fact and create hybrid roles that will help accomplished teachers pursue their ideas and help shape the new landscape of the profession. But this is going to be complicated, and adjusting current structures to make it work logistically is a serious obstacle–but certainly not an insurmountable one.

Is there anything else you’d like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Barnett: I am troubled by the vitriol in the current debate over the future of teaching and learning, with both self-proclaimed reformers and media mavens stoking fiery rhetoric about who should be recruited to teaching as well as how they are prepared and judged, and paid. The attacks on the unions, no matter how backward many of their policy positions may be, are unjustified and, I suspect, are often based on insidious motives to ensure we have a cheap and compliant teaching workforce with little or no voice.

However, soon, as expert teachers become more well-known through viral networking, and social media, the public will come to recognize that 21st century teaching and learning will require three things that are not currently on many reform agendas: (1) teachers who are more skilled in the science and art of teaching than ever before; (2) teachers who embrace their roles as leaders of school improvement; and (3) teachers who have and use a strong collective voice to ensure that the needs of all their students are adaptively met. And one day before I retire the highest paid anybody in a school district will be a practicing teacher whose handsomely rewarded for advancing and improving our public education system.

Ariel: One of the questions that we constantly had to ask ourselves–and co-author Renee Moore was particularly good at reminding us– as we wrote this book was, how will X idea work for all students across the country, urban, rural, suburban, affluent, poor, etc. As we move forward with any one idea suggested or inspired by Teaching 2030, we will need to face the fact that many ideas will require more financial/material investment in under-resourced communities than we are currently seeing and than other more affluent communities require.

Use of the Internet and all it has to offer children in their learning, for example, is only helpful where there is an affordable and accessible Internet connection and up to date computer technology. There are still many areas of the United States that are not “connected,” and residents of urban areas who cannot afford a reliable Internet connection. This is just one example of investments that will need to be made if the changes we envision are going to benefit all Americans.

As co-author Shannon C’de Baca put it, in a time of rapid change, someone has to be the “keeper of the flame,” the person who makes sure that quality education, equal opportunity, and developmentally appropriate goals are not lost along the way to 2030. Teachers, who are inside schools working with students every day, are in the position to be the “keepers of the flame” and speak up about what we see and think.

Thanks, Ariel and Barnett!

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