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Dave Orphal

July 27, 2014

Evaluating Teachers Part 2: My Worst Year


Michelangelo had his worst sculpture.  Pavarotti had a performance in which he missed so many notes, he didn’t return to the stage for the second act.  Ted Williams had a season where he didn’t come close to his typically above .300 batting average.  Over the course of a career, even the greatest had sub-par performances.  Why should we expect more, perfection even, from the rest of us mere mortals?

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Dave Orphal

July 11, 2014

Evaluating Teachers Part I: Getting Rid of a Bad Teacher


My friend is being fired from her teaching job.

As sad and sympathetic as I am for my friend, I cannot say that I am surprised.  I’ve known this teacher for several years, and I’ve seen the burn-out coming for the entire time of our friendship.

This teacher has been using language like “those kids” and “the kids” for a long time.  Listening to her refer to students like this, as opposed to talking about “my kids,” is a red flag for me.  I know that when I stop referring to my students as mine, then I’m flirting with burn-out and with phoning in my job performance. 

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Barnett Berry

July 1, 2014

Creating the conditions for teachers to be effective


Most Americans would agree that all students—regardless of where they live or how much money their parents make—should be taught by effective teachers, every day, in every class. 

How to make that happen is trickier. Is it about recruiting more talent into teaching? Or getting rid of the incompetent teachers in our nation’s classrooms? For years, America’s policymakers have fixated on these two possibilities.

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Justin Minkel

June 29, 2014



The kindergartner had gotten lost and ended up in the 2nd grade wing. She looked around at all the big kids, a little bewildered but not quite scared as of yet. Then she spotted me standing outside my classroom door and her face broke into a radiant smile. She walked up to me, arms outstretched, and gave me a hug.

That little girl had no idea who I was. But she knew I was a teacher, and in her a mind a teacher is someone you can trust to take care of you.

That trust is a gift. Earning it lies at the heart of our profession.


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Rod Powell

June 26, 2014

Teachers vs. Policy makers: From Showdown to Rapprochement


I love the French language. It has so many phrases and words that seem to capture moments in ways that English can’t. C’est l’avie, Je varrais, L’etat c’est moi (Louis XIV references—forgive me, I’m a history teacher). They all have deeper meanings than my North Carolina dialect can conjure up.

But there’s one French word in particular that captures my recent experience at the National Conference of State Legislatures' “Leading the Way to Student Success” conference: rapprochement.

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Noah Zeichner

June 24, 2014

Professional Learning Takes Time


Later this week I will be presenting a workshop at Asia Society's Global Learning annual conference in Brooklyn, New York. Asia Society is also behind the Global Cities Education Network (GCEN). Last month, CTQ released a report entitled "A Global Network of Teachers and Their Professional Learning Systems." Seven teachers, including me, who attended the GCEN meeting in Singapore last October, offer recommendations for how school systems can better structure and support professional learning for teachers.

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Justin Minkel

June 22, 2014

A Great First Date with Marriage Potential: Legislators and Teachers Get to Know One Another


Teachers and legislators have plenty of first dates. What we need is more marriages.

We've all experienced those one-off meetings that are a trading of monologues rather than true dialogue. Lawmakers deliver pre-crafted talking points, teachers speak truth to power without worrying whether power listens; meeting adjourned. Last week I experienced a welcome exception to that script, when five teachers from CTQ met with 30 Education Chairs for two days of debate, dialogue, and a shattering of stereotypes.

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Renee Moore

June 16, 2014

Students' Rights AND Teachers' Rights


In response to questions posted at the National Education Insiders blog about the recent court decision on teacher tenure in California, I offered the following thoughts:

I disagree with posing student and teacher rights as binary opposites. Every student, in every public school in America, deserves a quality teacher. Every teacher deserves to be treated like a true professional—which includes having due process before losing one’s position or teaching credentials. Doing the latter actually helps ensure the former.

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