Chat

The New Teacher Magazine
September 6, 2006


Anthony Rebora, teachermagazine.org (Moderator):
    Welcome to our live chat on the new Teacher Magazine. This chat is an experiment for us. Usually, our chats feature education newsmakers, innovative teachers we’ve written about, or experts on one branch of teaching or another. Today, however, our guests are in-house—the editors of Teacher Magazine, Rich Shea and Scott Cech. They’re going to discuss the recent relaunch of Teacher in hopes of giving readers a better sense of the changes that have been made to the magazine and how they think it can serve the teaching profession. We’ll take questions from our readers, but I am also going to be asking questions to give Rich and Scott a chance to give some background and address some important point about the magazine and their editorial decisions.


Question from John Fulwiler, Professor of Educational Technology, Southeastern Louisiana State University:
    In the new design of the magazine, where would a reader go in each issue to find information on education policy and funding (re-authorization of NCLB, major policy issues at national and state levels, etc)?

Rich Shea, Executive Editor, Teacher Magazine:
    Good question, John--because it gives me a chance to explain the new design.

First off, each issue is themed, and the first theme (for Aug/Sept) happens to be achievement. So, although NCLB may not be addressed specifically in parts of the magazine, the issue of standardization permeates.

The first section of the magazine, Currents, is, as the moniker indicates, a survey of news and trends. So these pieces don't necessarily address the achievement theme. The category subheadlines--health, money, and back to school, for example--are self-explanatory, and the pieces themselves are meant to be brief, informative, and, at times, entertaining.

The second, or features, section does address the theme directly, and, John, with these three stories in the Aug/Sept issue, you'll find accounts of how either a school or district is addressing NCLB.

Finally, the last section, Extra Credit, is our direct way of helping our audience, teacher-leaders, get some of the guidance they need to improve their performances. Back there, in each issue, you'll find research, best-practices advice, an ask-the-mentor Q&A, book reviews, op-ed pieces, and technology and lifestyle coverage.

And I haven't even mentioned the resources available on our redesigned web site, which includes searches of back issues of Teacher (we've been around since 1989) as well as our parent company Editorial Projects in Education's research center. Anthony Rebora may be able to help us with that.




Anthony Rebora, teachermagazine.org (Moderator):
    Rich is right: The EPE Research Center is an excellent place to find education policy information. It includes the Education Counts database, which allows you to create tables, graphs, and maps with more than 250 state policy indicators: http://www.edweek.org/rc/index.html

You should also check Education Week itself, Teacher's sister publication, regularly. They provide extensive NCLB and school finance coverage. Full access to edweek requires registration but you get two free articles (of your choice) with registration, and you can browse the current issue and news pages to stay up to date: http://www.edweek.org.

Finally, we do plan to keep tabs--and offer insight--on these important policy issues on the Teacher site (www.teachermagazine.org.) Keep your eye on our Web Watch and Trend Tracker features.


Question from Pam Cheng, teacher, Cumberland Elementary:
    Teachers are inundated with information and ideas about what to do in the classroom. How do we assimilate the information in an effective way and how much freedom we have to do so on an individual basis?

Rich Shea, Executive Editor, Teacher Magazine:
    Because Teacher Magazine is published just six times during the school year, we try to make sure that the information we share in print is carefully chosen and valuable. In the upcoming October, or technology, issue, for example, one of the feature stories is on Will Richardson, a former high school English teacher who's now considered an edu-tech guru, in terms of using the Internet and its tools (blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc.) in classrooms. In that case, we wanted to make sure to choose the right person to represent Web 2.0's effects on K-12 education. But that's just one example.

How this information is assimilated depends not only on the individual (if you're not a tech-savvy person, for example, will the story on Richardson inspire you to engage in tech training?) but on your school environment (does the administration encourage tech training?). In labeling our target audience teacher-leaders, we're assuming that the news and information we provide will be used in a constructive way. In fact, it's always been the magazine's mission to serve those who don't believe that education--public education, especially--is as good as it should be.


Question from :
    Kathleen Valentine, Assistant Professor, SUNY Potsdam

I am working on publications and would like to know what, as editors, you are looking for in an article that is published in your magazine?

Scott J. Cech, Managing Editor, Teacher Magazine:
    Thanks for your question, Ms. Valentine--we get asked this one a lot.

The short answer is, it depends. We look for different sorts of writing from different people for different sections. In the main feature-story area and in the Currents section at the front of the magazine, almost all the writing is done by professional journalists, either by staffers here or by contracted freelancers.

In the Extra Credit section, however, there are several opportunities for educators to be part of our dialogue, including the Best Practices page, where educators share their successful teaching strategies. An education professional such as yourself might consider writing a piece for our First Person page, where teachers reflect on their classroom experiences and education as a whole.

For examples of the types of pieces we're looking for, you may link to and browse our free Web site: www.teachermagazine.org

And we're always eager to hear suggestions and news tips from our readers. If you have one, or want to write a Best Practices or First Person piece, please call 301-280-3100 and ask for me, or send an e-mail to [email protected]

There are even more opportunities online for contributing your two cents. Anthony, maybe you could run down a brief list of ways Teacher Magazine readers can add their words to our Web site.


Anthony Rebora, teachermagazine.org (Moderator):
    A follow-up: The newly redesigned site is heavily oriented around getting a lot of input and feedback from our teacher-readers. You can contribute to chats like this one or participate in our Talkback readers' discussions. Our blogs have also become a great place for teachers, through the comments feature, to share ideas and react to developments in the profession. We'll have more feedback and community features soon. I'm also very interested in publishing more Web-only articles and essays by teachers. If you have ideas, please write to me at [email protected] I am very open to new voices. You can ask our current bloggers.


Question from Anthony Rebora, teachermagazine.org:
    Rich, can you give us some background on why Teacher was redesigned? What factored into the decision and the direction you ultimately took with new format?

Rich Shea, Executive Editor, Teacher Magazine:
    Teacher, which is published by the nonprofit Editorial Projects in Education, Inc. (also publisher of Education Week), has been around since 1989, and originally the aim was to provide the country's K-12 teacher's with a magazine that treats them like professionals. And that meant supplying them with news, reviews, op-ed pieces, and longform narrative features that would keep them well-informed. And thanks to the editorial teams over the years, the quality of the content has been topnotch--as several National Magazine Award nominations attest.

But as the years have gone by, two things have happened: Teachers have far less time to actually sit down and read longer pieces, and they're much more in need of quick-hitting, service-oriented material--news you can they use, so to speak. So we've cut down on the number of features, going from six to three in each issue, and our Currents and Extra Credit sections are chockfull of useful--in some cases, how-to--information that they can apply directly to their classrooms.

It's very important to mention also that the new web site provides a host of online-only information and services that go toward creating a teaching community. And this is something we're going to continue to develop, so that educators can also communicate with each other.

If you're wondering about the themes of the print issues, they will be as follows:

Aug/Sept--Achievement (already published) Oct--Technology Nov/Dec--Alternative Education Jan/Feb--Professional Development March/April--Curriculum May/June--Careers


Question from Anthony Rebora, teachermagazine.org:
    Scott, you wrote one of the feature stories in the new issue and edited others. How have these stories changed in new format? In your opinion, what value do these longer pieces have for classroom teachers.

Scott J. Cech, Managing Editor, Teacher Magazine:
    The three feature stories in our Aug.-Sept. issue, such as the one I wrote, ( http://tm.edweek.org/tm/articles/2006/09/01/01burning.h18.html ) have the same depth and breadth as features had in the old version of the magazine. The difference lies in the extras our new format allows. For example, the Burning Man feature has two sidebars--one made up of characteristically pungent quotes from the story's subject, former cop and teacher Ed Burns, and the other summarizing the plot history of The Wire, which he co-writes and co-produces.

Because our audience of teacher-leaders is a thoughtful crowd, we provide a mix of content, including feature-length stories, to engage and inspire readers on an intellectual level not served by other teacher-oriented publications.


Question from Kimberly A. Cairns; Elementary Educator; Erie County Schools, Erie, PA:
    What do you think is the most exciting thing happening in education today?

Rich Shea, Executive Editor, Teacher Magazine:
    As I'm sure you know, Kimberly, there are many wonderful things happening in classrooms today, and we see these, as reporters and editors, on an individual basis all the time. The best stories we come across, in fact, are usually the ones that end up in our features section.

Because we're now putting together the technology issue, it's great to see how smart, tech-savvy educators are making use of the Internet, for example, to facilitate discussion and collaboration between students, between teachers, and between students and teachers.

And this isn't just pie in the sky stuff. A lot of it helps schools be more nurturing, engaging places. Which is the bottom line for a lot of programs/schools/teachers we profile in Teacher Magazine: Are these people raising achievement levels and encouraging lifelong learning?


Question from domisius, administrator:
    What do you think about the role of teachers as intellectual? How can we responsible to educational environment?

Scott J. Cech, Managing Editor, Teacher Magazine:
    Good question. In my opinion, teachers must be intellectuals, and by that I mean people who think before acting. They have the opportunity and responsibility to be more than just dispensers of knowledge--both for their students' sake, and for the sake of the larger educational environment. They must be absorbers and synthesizers of knowledge, and smart enough to know when to listen as well as when to talk.

As editors at Teacher Magazine, we know too many other teacher-oriented publications assume that teachers are just automatons at the front of the classroom, but we will continue to speak to those who put their minds where their mouths are.


Question from Ray Phelps,Teacher,North Hardin High School Radcliff,Kentucky:
    Overworked-underpaid-too much paperwork-govt. regulations are old cliches. While this is all too true most of the teachers who came through those early fires are very inspiring teachers. I think that the teaching profession is still being bombarded by these things which make it very difficult to do what we are supposed to do-TEACH. However, I think there will be enough bright young people who will want to light the fire of success in students to pick up the torch and change some of the things that are wrong and create a bright future for teaching. Agree or disagree.

Scott J. Cech, Managing Editor, Teacher Magazine:
    Agree 110 percent.


Question from Anthony Rebora, teachermagazine.org:
    Scott, what kind of reaction has the relaunched magazine received so far? Have you felt positive about the comments you've heard or gotten?

Scott J. Cech, Managing Editor, Teacher Magazine:
    I ALWAYS feel positive, Anthony. But to answer your question, we've gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback from teachers, other education professionals, and general readers about the text, but also about the new format, including the magazine's new dimensions and paper, which really make the dynamic new layout and colors leap off the page. The overall message I've gotten is that it's a better-looking package for all our great new content.


Question from Anthony Rebora, teachermagazine.org:
    Rich, we've said that new magazine's target audience is teacher-leaders. How do you define this group? As an editor, how will you tailor the coverage to them?

Rich Shea, Executive Editor, Teacher Magazine:
    The short answer is that teacher-leaders are educators who are actually in positions of power: coaches, team leaders, longtime veterans, etc. But teacher-leaders can also be those who simply set examples for the rest of the faculty--whether they're charismatic, true experts in their field, geat with kids, or all three. We believe that both of these groups, working in tandem with the administration, have a lot of sway when it comes to moving a school forward and creating an environment that's welcoming for everyone. As I've mentioned before, our service-oriented content, especially, is tailored to the teacher-leader. He or she is the one who's going to know how to make use of that material, which we now provide in the form of sidebars (shorter pieces) in the features section as well.


Anthony Rebora, teachermagazine.org (Moderator):
    That's about all the time we have today--have to get back to working on the October issue (on Technology). We hope this chat was a helpful introduction to the new Teacher. Please remember to check out our Web site when you have chance: www.teachermagazine.org. And if you have further questions, comments, or ideas, you can always write us at [email protected] We definitely want to make your input a big part of our coverage.







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Chat Editors

The Fine Print

All questions are screened by an edweek.org editor prior to posting. A question is not displayed until the moderator poses it to the guest(s). Due to the volume of questions received, we cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered, or answered in the order of submission. Guests and hosts may decline to answer any questions. Concise questions are strongly encouraged.

Please be sure to include your name when posting your question.

Edweek.org's Live Chat is an open forum where readers can participate in a give- and-take discussion with a variety of guests. Edweek.org reserves the right to condense or edit questions for clarity, but editing is kept to a minimum. Transcripts may also be reproduced in some form in our print edition. We do not correct errors in spelling, punctuation, etc. In addition, we remove statements that have the potential to be libelous or to slander someone. Please read our privacy policy and user agreement if you have questions.

—Chat Editors

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