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Get support and guidance from change makers who are organizing and implementing real improvements to our educational system.

Christopher R. FriendApril 3, 2014

Editor's note: This blog describes a hostile act and contains language that some might find disturbing and offensive. We generally avoid such representations on Edutopia. However, it would be difficult for the blogger to make his point without this level of impact, and we believe it is a point worth making.

Years ago, I taught high school in a small suburban community in Florida. After my then-boyfriend substituted in my classes one day, my classroom was vandalized with threatening, offensive messages on the whiteboard, my desk, and the overhead projector and its screen. The contents of my desk were strewn across the room, and some personal property I had brought to my workspace was defaced. Overall, very little physical damage was done, but the event seriously shook my nerves.

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Maurice EliasMarch 24, 2014

Take a walk through your building or workplace and attend to the feelings you have. No, not an actual walk -- a symbolic one. By so doing, you will learn a lot about the culture and climate of your school and some areas where action may be needed.

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Andrew MillerMarch 10, 2014

Being a mentor teacher to a teaching candidate is quite a privilege and honor, as you are integral in nurturing and helping that new teacher to reflect and improve upon his or her instruction. I recently reached out to fellow mentor teachers and asked them about their advice and best practices, not only for teacher mentors, but also for new teachers in the field. Here are some great quotes and points from these practicing mentors.

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Joshua BlockFebruary 21, 2014

This post represents the work of a group of educators and education activists who wanted to help educators help students process the verdict in the Jordan Davis murder trial. Many of us wrote from our experiences both in and out of the classroom, and as such, many of us used "I" statements in talking about these ideas. The writers are Melinda Anderson, Joshua Block, Zac Chase, Alexa Dunn, Bill Fitzgerald, Matt Kay, Diana Laufenberg, Chris Lehmann, Luz Maria Rojas, John Spencer, Mike Thayer, Jose Vilson and Audrey Watters. You can also link to the Google Doc or download the whole thing as a PDF. Everything written below is collaborative. This document is Creative Commons -- Share Alike.

As educators, we believe that we have a responsibility to use our classrooms to help young people grapple with and address the messiness of the world around them. In collaborating on this, what we know to be true is that there is more than a single lesson plan here. The issues raised by the Jordan Davis murder trial touch deeply on issues of race, law, and social justice, and any and all of these issues could be a course of study. What we hope to do is offer a number of ways for teachers and students to think about the case while knowing that no one way, no one day can possibly speak to all of the challenges this case represents.

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Andrew MillerFebruary 20, 2014

Late in 2012, I wrote a blog for the Huffington Post that articulated what I really feel should be and is a role of great teachers. Great teachers are "learning designers" who seek to create a space where all students are empowered to learn. I was further inspired to rearticulate this idea when I saw this video from Sir Ken Robinson:

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Dr. Joe MazzaFebruary 14, 2014

You might recall the events last year when the University of Pennsylvania's Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership (@MCDPEL) traveled to Finland to study the schools through the lenses of students, teachers, parents and leaders. The team's use of social media during that trip (including Edutopia's live Global Penn-Finn Edu Conversation) has made its way back to campus.

Since September, the innovative school leadership program has hosted a global conversation around various leadership topics using the #pennedchat hashtag. This weekend, the program at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education (@PennGSE) will partner with the largest ongoing weekend education conversation in existence -- #Satchat.

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Terry HeickFebruary 14, 2014

Learning is a culture.

It starts as a culture with the students as human beings needing to understand their environment. And it ends as a culture with students taking what we give them and using it in those physical and digital environments they call home.

Even the practices that promote or undermine the learning process itself are first and foremost human and cultural artifacts. Literacy, curiosity, self-efficacy, ambition and other important agents of learning are born in the native environments of students' homes.

Further, learning is ongoing, perishable and alive -- just like culture.

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Suzanne Acord, PhDJanuary 29, 2014

As summer approaches, do you find yourself daydreaming about how you will spend your long summer months as a civilian? I enjoy enriching the minds of students for ten months, but as summer draws nearer, I yearn to act as the learner, preferably at someone else’s expense.

A plethora of travel opportunities await educators each summer. Fellowships, workshops, seminars and service travel can provide you with intellectually stimulating learning opportunities while on the road. If you plan to take advantage of the many travel options available to teachers, you'll need to explore your options and get started on your applications -- pronto. Deadlines are quickly approaching, and invitations are competitive.

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Maurice EliasJanuary 29, 2014

The hardest job in America? Being a teacher, so said Sargent Shriver on October 13, 1972, in a speech given as part of his vice presidential campaign with George McGovern. Forty-two years after this remarkable speech, his words bear sharing.

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Rebecca AlberJanuary 24, 2014

What's the opposite of scaffolding a lesson? It would be saying to students something like, "Read this nine-page science article, write a detailed essay on the topic it explores, and turn it in by Wednesday." Yikes -- no safety net, no parachute, no scaffolding -- just left blowing in the wind.

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