What We’re Reading: Growing diversity at Teach For America

  • Half of Teach For America’s new recruits nationally are people of color. (Teacher Beat)
  • A Memphis teacher argues that educators in alternative schools shouldn’t be evaluated like everyone else. (Bluff City Ed)
  • Teachers in Los Angeles’s “teacher jails” say they are depressed and want to get back to work. (Al Jazeera America)
  • The biggest obstacle to lesson study, according to a former teacher, is educators’ lack of shared time. (The Atlantic)
  • Usually absent from criticism of the Common Core standards are ideas about what should replace them. (City & State)
  • Memphis and the South Bronx are the latest places to experiment in paying families for kids’ efforts in school. (Politico)
  • Urban Montessori schools are emerging as a response to “no excuses”-style education. (Next City)
  • Another unusual approach that continues to attract some adherents: unschooling. (Outside)
  • Here’s an argument for reading “Building a Better Teacher” in conjunction with books by actual teachers. (Hechinger)
  • Five thoughts about Michelle Rhee’s departure from StudentsFirst, from a fan who thinks she made errors. (Eduwonk)
  • Google has opened its free classroom organization software to all teachers. (TechCrunch)
  • A D.C. program is betting that struggling students can propel each other forward. (Greater Greater Ed)
  • Los Angeles is shifting to sending low-performing students to the next grade instead of holding them back. (Hechinger)
  • Three similar ways of describing students’ state test scores have very different meanings. (Shanker)
  • A city teacher got through a mental health crisis her first month in the classroom. (Critical Classrooms)
  • A city teacher says our big special education story should have paid more attention to District 75. (Ms Speducate)
  • Robin Williams, the actor who died this week, played a master teacher on multiple occasions. (NPRed) Here’s one:

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

reading list

Weekend Reads: ‘Love and love hard,’ a KIPP Tulsa teacher tells us all

PHOTO: Caroline Bauman
  • New Haven’s schools chief has fallen out of favor after seven years there, and now he’s looking to leave. (N.H. Independent)
  • The KIPP charter network urged its schools to act after Terence Crutcher, a KIPP dad, was killed by police in Tulsa. (Chalkbeat)
  • What that action looked like at KIPP Tulsa College Prep, where at least 10 students are related to Crutcher. (Tulsa World)
  • A teacher at the school went viral after sharing her experiences talking to students — and her advice to “love and love hard.” (Facebook)
  • Great teachers are experts at having hard conversations. Here’s their advice to America. (Chalkbeat)
  • One of Nevada’s wealthiest women is also the state’s glamorous board of education president. (Pacific Standard)
  • Two seasoned education policy wonks are leading Donald Trump’s education transition planning. (Politics K-12)
  • Why is Tennessee’s first single-sex charter school thriving? Not for the reason you might think. (The Atlantic)
  • Efforts are underway to improve black students’ experience at a diverse school where they still come out behind. (Bloomberg)