This post is written by the 2017 NCTE Kent Williamson Policy Fellow Lauren Stuart. This is part of a weekly series.
Project: Policy Brief
Oh, the wonderful world of writing policy briefs. This week was spent working on a piece for the National Council of Teachers of English. We are trying to uncover who is teaching English and how these educators feel about a range of topics. There is data on teachers in general, but not a lot on teachers of English specifically. As an organization, we wanted to learn about this critical group of educators. Here are some questions that arose during my research:
- What might the race and gender of our teachers tell us about the ways we connect with our students?
- Why is it important to look at the levels of education a teacher has achieved?
- In a post–Common Core world, have levels of job satisfaction changed?
- What are the professional learning needs of teachers of English?
The most glaring fact so far has been the lack of current research on teachers. The U.S. Department of Education is set to release the next set of data end of summer/beginning of fall.
You know what they say about assessment …
I took a break from writing and research to meet with Miah Daughtery, the Director of English Language Arts and Literacy at Achieve. A fellow Wolverine, Miah and I discussed everything from ideas for getting kids to read—The Reading Minute by Kelly Gallagher—was new to me! to understanding why standardized assessments are so long (if you don’t know what a psychometrician is, then you probably don’t know the answer). One thing that was suggested in my district was that we write our own district-wide benchmarks. It was such a casual comment to our little department of 10 teachers that it seemed like a simple idea. Miah and I discussed how complicated writing assessment is, especially if it is assessment that you are going to use to make claims about student achievement. Miah has a presentation called “The Top 25 Ways a Test Item Can Be Flawed.” There are more than 25? The moral of the story is, folks, we need to revisit our benchmark plan. Miah suggested checking out the assessments from Achieve the Core, so I’m going to start there.
Oh and I’m back in the classroom on Monday
When my eyes got tired of looking at data, I turned my attention to my classroom. I have 6th and 8th graders reporting to me, excited yet sleepy, Monday. As most teachers do, I have grand plans for the year. These include, but are not limited to
- infusing global education in all of my units, and building a website for my students to interact with me while I am on my study abroad, probably on Facebook or a page on my personal site
- getting my kids to enjoy reading (also, getting them to actually read)—this means getting my classroom library in order, which terrifies me
- doing daily read-alouds and maybe the Reading Minute
- pairing contemporary texts with my mandated curriculum
I’m open to ideas!