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May 1, 2016
Vol. 73
No. 8

Double Take

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Research Alert

The Future of the Education Profession

Amid growing concerns about teacher shortages, a report from ACT finds that fewer high school graduates plan to become educators. Of the roughly 1.85 million 2014 U.S. high school graduates who took the ACT college-entrance exam, only 5 percent indicated they had plans to become a teacher, counselor, or administrator—down from 7 percent in 2010.
The future appears bleak for recruiting a diverse educator workforce, too. According to the report, 71.8 percent of aspiring educators were white, 12.5 percent were Hispanic, and 9.9 percent were African American; the remaining were two or more races (3.3 percent), Asian (1.8 percent), and American Indian (less than 1 percent). Only about a quarter of those looking to enter the profession were male. Future educators performed above average in English, but significantly lower than the national average in science and math—the latter a particular concern for recruiting teachers in STEM.
Among ACT's recommendations for cultivating a diverse and talented pool of teacher candidates: Recruit high-achieving college students who are undecided about their future careers; promote alternative pathways to teaching, such as those for mid-career professionals and recent graduates; and improve benefits to recruit and retain quality teachers.
The Condition of Future Educators 2014 is available at www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/CCCR-2014-FutureEducators.pdf.

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All in a Day's Work

One day in early February, Education Week invited principals to take photos of their daily work and to share the images on Twitter and Instagram using #aprincipalsday. The resulting collection is a reminder of the many hats that principals wear. In one picture, an assistant principal shovels snow from his school's walkway. In another, a principal plays chess with students at lunch. In a third, a principal holds a morning meeting with parents. The collection of photos and videos is online at www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/photos-a-day-in-the-life-of.html.

Numbers of Note

The Education Workforce

INSTRUCTIONAL STAFF
Some 3,548,311 employees served as instructional staff in U.S. public schools during the 2014–2015 school year.
35.2% Secondary school teachers
52.4% Elementary classroom teachers
5.5% Principals and supervisors
6.9% Nonsupervisory instructional staff
TEACHER SALARIES
During the 2014–2015 school year, the average estimated teacher salary for U.S. public school classroom teachers was $57,379. New York had the highest average salary, while South Dakota had the lowest.
$77,628 New York
$40,661 South Dakota
<ATTRIB> Source: National Education Association's Rankings and Estimates: Rankings of the States 2014 and Estimates of School Statistics 2015: www.nea.org/assets/docs/NEA_Rankings_And_Estimates-2015-03-11a.pdf </ATTRIB>

Relevant Reads

The Teaching Brain: An Evolutionary Trait at the Heart of Education by Vanessa Rodriguez with Michelle Fitzpatrick (The New Press, 2014)
With so much focus on recruiting high-quality teachers, this book claims that most of us aren't asking the right questions: What do we mean by "teaching"? What takes place—including in the brain—when one person teaches another?
Neuroscientists and others are beginning to probe how the teaching process is distinct from the learning process. However, these findings aren't trickling down to policymakers and educators, Rodriguez says, and that's getting in the way of meaningful discussion and change.
The book's early chapters describe misguided views of what teaching involves. Rodriguez delves into what makes professional teaching different from day-to-day "teaching," and concludes that "expert teachers are systems thinkers." Expert teachers, Rodriguez claims, develop a theory of each learner's brain. Skilled teaching requires maintaining five key "awarenesses," which include awareness of (1) the learner (and how that learner views learning), (2) the interaction, (3) one's self as a teacher, (4) teaching practice, and (5) the context. Rodriguez illustrates these awarenesses with examples from stellar teachers.

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Teachers as Miracle Workers

Want to be reminded of the everyday miracles that passionate teachers perform? Watch this five-minute, humorous video by performance poet Taylor Mali. Mali, a vocal advocate of the teaching profession, spent nine years as a classroom teacher and rose to fame about 15 years ago with the viral video "What Do Teachers Make?". Here, he presents snapshots of classroom challenges that will resonate with many teachers. For instance, Mali recalls that he was prone to lecture on love, responsibility, honor, integrity, and "the importance of telling the truth always." When his students would press him, "Will we be tested on this?" he would respond, "Every day of your life!"

PageTurner

"Teaching is the profession that creates all other professions." —Richard DuFour

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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