2016 is winding down, and teachers are going on a well-deserved break. But before you put aside thoughts of policy and pedagogy in favor of holiday cheer, take a look at a list of the 10 most-read Teaching Now posts in 2016.
10. The Teaching Profession in 2015 (in Charts)
Readers loved this look at the state of the teaching profession in chart form. Stay tuned for a 2016 update in the coming days...
9. Study: Class Getting-to-Know-You Exercise Can Help Close Achievement Gaps
This study found that when teachers know what they have in common with students from other races, they are more likely to have positive relationships with them—which can close the achievement gap in their class. This study was particularly timely, as there is a movement to make sure that white teachers have the cultural competency to relate to their diverse students.
8. When It Comes to Grading, Is ‘50' the New ‘Zero’?
Some schools are implementing “no zero” policies to make it harder for students to fail and to keep them motivated. Judging from the comments on this article, many teachers are fed up with traditional grading—but there’s a lot of differing opinions on how best to measure students’ progress.
7. Why Is Classroom Management Such a Problem for New Teachers?
We spoke to Roxanna Elden, a popular author who focuses on support for new teachers, about why classroom management can be so hard the first few years. Her advice for teachers who are coming back from winter break is particularly helpful.
“Instead of [teachers] giving themselves this big pep talk about how they’re going to be better at everything than they were at the beginning of the year—this time I’m going to keep up with grading, and this time I’m going to make sure the color-coded folders are filled out by Thursday night instead of Friday morning—you might be better off saying, “How can I simplify my grading, and how can I not color code my folders?” And just do something that’s more basic and more easy to keep up with,” she said.
6. You No Longer Need a Teaching Degree to Teach in Utah
Utah schools can now hire people who have relevant professional experience but no teaching experience, in a desperate measure to curb severe teacher shortages. This decision generated a lot of public outcry.
5. High School Students Say Student-Led Discussions and Group Work Often Go Awry
An Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist spoke to teenagers about school and repeatedly heard that they don’t like it when teachers don’t take control of the classroom, and let students direct class discussions. They also hate group projects. This opened up an interesting conversation about the extent to which teachers should incorporate student-led learning and group projects into their classrooms.
4. The Pay Gap for Teachers Is Growing, New Study Finds
A new report found that the gap between U.S. teachers’ pay and that of comparable workers is greater than ever before. Not good news for a profession that’s already battling to attract and retain its teachers.
3. Student-Teacher’s Rap Video Welcoming His Students Goes Viral
Who doesn’t like an inspirational teacher video?
2. The Election Is Over, But for Teachers, Hard Conversations Are Just Beginning
For many teachers, the contentious presidential election dominated the fall semester. Many teachers were wary of discussing the campaign, and the divisive rhetoric that was prevalent throughout it, in the classroom. But when Donald Trump won, many teachers felt like they had to address students’ fears—particularly students of color, immigrant students, and those who come from immigrant families—and start to heal the divisions in their classrooms.
1. Some of America’s Top Teachers Went to Finland. Here’s What They Learned
Six state Teachers of the Year traveled to Finland, which is known for its top-performing education system, to learn from their schools. Two of them spoke to Teaching Now about the lessons they learned in Finland and what insights they will bring back to their own U.S. classrooms.
Thanks for reading!
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.