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June 1, 2014
Vol. 71
No. 9

Welcome to Summer EL / The Most Important Thing

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      The marathon last days of school are over, and it is now time to breathe—and to stop worrying about all the challenges you face as an educator, right? Well, maybe.
      This issue is about doing one more thing—remembering why you are doing what you are doing. With so much energy devoted all year long to tackling problems, summer can be a good time to recall why you went into education in the first place, reflect on your many accomplishments, and think about the good you have done and will do in your life as an educator. It's not about self-congratulation, but about looking inside yourself for the rejuvenation and answers only you can find.
      In this digital-only summer issue, we asked our authors to tell us about how they make a difference—from the small-scale, everyday doable actions fellow educators can replicate to the large-scale active leadership that keeps people engaged in and inspired by school improvement work. Principal Salome Thomas-EL, who led underserved students in Philadelphia to national chess championships, talks about the "immortality of influence" that educators can have on students. Jeffrey Benson, one of our educators featured in EL videos this month ( and ), quotes a line from a song, "You never know when you are making a memory."
      Among the topics our authors examine are working with children in poverty, encouraging students who will be the first in their family to attend college, and using restorative justice programs to build community. For example, Julie Landsman presents a list of 15 recommendations for fighting poverty—child by child. Teachers do not save the world, she notes, but they do make time for kids, listen to them, and help them gain the skills they need to help themselves.
      A wonderful research report comes from Vicki Zakrzewski, education director at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, an organization that examines the science behind meaningful work—why we gravitate toward it and what kind of impact it has on our lives. Here, she describes the psychology of kindness, an innate quality of children, and how to spark that kindness in children and adults alike.
      The issue would not be complete without some critical commentary on what doesn't make a difference. Gene V. Glass and David C. Berliner address five controversial reforms that are often served up as contributing to meaningful change but that should be on the chopping block, in their considered opinion. Whether you agree or disagree, fighting back and speaking out are powerful ways—and sometimes the only ways—to make a difference, as Nancy Flanagan concurs.
      We hope you enjoy this bonus, free issue of Educational Leadership, and if you do, please share it with your friends electronically. We'll be back in print and online in September.
      And one more thing: Thank you for doing what has to be among the top 10 most important things to do in a lifetime—teaching our children.

      Marge Scherer has contributed to Educational Leadership.

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      Making a Difference
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