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Everything listed under: Teachers

  • These Tips Will Make Public School Enrollment a Piece of Cake


    Summer is a time of transition for many families, and it can be a time of anticipation for students and parents who will start a new school in the fall. Luckily, Missouri Parent has done the legwork. These tips will make public school enrollment a piece of cake for your family!

    Tip #1: Find Your Child’s School
    If you’re new to Missouri public schools, or if you’re trying to find your child’s school in a new community following a family move, the Missouri School Directory online is a huge help! It allows you to search for schools by district, county, or legislative district.

    Learn More: Finding Your Child’s School

    Tip #2: Gather the Right Documentation
    It’ll save you time and stress if you show up to your child’s school enrollment appointment with the correct documentation on-hand.

    This post explains the identification, medical, academic, and behavioral records you should bring when you enroll your child in school. Be prepared, though, that your child’s school may also ask you to complete additional documentation like technology assessments or language questionnaires.

    Tip #3: Ensure Your Child’s Immunizations are Up to Date
    Missouri public schools have published a recommended immunization schedule based on the suggestions of leading disease, pediatric, and family organizations across the country. Learn more about the vaccines that public schools students are required to receive in this post.

    Tip #4: Meet the Teacher & Attend the Open House
    Most Missouri schools offer the chance for parents and students to meet the teacher and the principal before school starts. If you’re new to the district, this is a great way to begin building relationships with the adults your child will interact with daily at school. Open houses are also a great way to get your child comfortable with his or her new school building, classroom, and teachers.

    Learn More: Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

    Tip #5: Don’t Let In-State Transfers Intimidate You!
    We know that a mid-year school transfer can be stressful for you and your family, so we wrote this post explaining the basic in-state transfer process for you. Luckily, Missouri has streamlined in-state transfers to make them easier for families like yours.

    Summer is a time of transition for many families, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be a time when parents and kids feel overwhelmed by the stress of school enrollment or transfer. We hope that these five tips help make your child’s school enrollment a piece of cake this fall!

    Missouri Parent is a free service for all Missouri parents and others with an interest in public education. Part of goal at Missouri Parent is to provide information that will help you help your child succeed in Missouri public schools. Bookmark Missouri Parent News and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates related to your child’s Missouri public school education!

  • Missouri Education Advocates: Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA)


    Name: Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA)

    About: MSTA is a grassroots organization made up of local Community Teachers Associations (CTA) in each local school district, reflecting MSTA’s strong commitment to local control. Members set the policy of and priorities of MSTA to meet the needs of Missouri educators. The organization was founded in 1856, and provides services and benefits to its more than 45,000 members.

    Employees: You can find a full contact list for the MSTA headquarters here.

    President: Stacy Williamson


    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Social Media Sites:
    The MSTA Blog
    MSTA on Facebook
    Student MSTA on Facebook
    Missouri FTA on Facebook
    MSTA on Twitter
    MSTA on Pinterest
    MSTA on YouTube
    MSTA on Flickr

    Legislation & Advocacy:

    MSTA attends State Board of Education meetings and Public School Retirement System meetings, and it serves as liaisons to governmental agencies. It also “conducts workshops on political issues and involvement”. (Source)

    The organization endorses candidates for the Missouri legislature, and “MSTA’s government relations department delivers testimony on MSTA’s legislative platform,” according to MSTA’s website.

    MSTA publishes a weekly MSTA Action newsletter during the legislative session, explaining its position on featured pieces of Missouri state legislation. You can find archives of all MSTA Action newsletters here.

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

  • Missouri Education Advocates: Missouri Retired Teachers Association (MRTA)


    Name: Missouri Retired Teachers Association (MRTA)

    About: MRTA is an association of retired educators whose purpose is to promote the professional, social and economic welfare of all retired school employees. The organization an independent, non-partisan, 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation with a statewide membership of more than 23,000 people.

    Membership is open to retired teachers of public, private, and parochial schools, and to administrators, supervisors, retired school employees, and non-certified personnel who have worked in educational programs, governesses, and tutors. Spouses of members, active teachers and others interested in education may become associate members without the right to vote, hold office or represent the Association.

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    The MRTA Mission: The Missouri Retired Teachers Association and Public School Personnel organized in 1960 is the only educational organization in Missouri working exclusively for retired school personnel. MRTA will work actively with government and its entities for beneficial legislation. We shall strive to increase membership until all retirees become members, and always foster good fellowship. We will encourage members to be involved in community affairs and work for worthy educational causes. Our mission is to serve and not to be served. (Source)

    Number of Employees: 5
    (See a full list of MRTA’s office staff.)

    Executive Director: Jim Kreider


    Social Media Sites:
    MRTA on Facebook
    MRTA on YouTube

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    2015 Legislative Platform
    2015 Legislative Committee Purpose & Duties

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

  • Do Standardized Tests in Reading Measure Teachers or Parents?


    A story on indicated that math scores on standardized tests are easier to improve upon then reading scores are. Their rationale: students’ language learning is less strongly influenced by formal education than by home life. This got us thinking about standardized tests, and whether they measure the success of teachers, parents, or both. (Source) didn’t cite specific research, but it did point out that reading levels are deeply intertwined with a student’s personal background and home life, meaning that standardized test scores for reading might say more about a child’s parents and informal learning than it does about the child’s classroom education:

    “Math is a skill that students mostly learn in school. Reading skills, on the other hand, are more intertwined with students’ backgrounds — everything from their family income to how many words they heard early in life,” the story said.

    Curious, we hunted around the Internet looking for research and other news stories to support the idea that teachers may have less influence on students’ test scores (in any subject area) than parents do. Here’s what we found:

    · The Telegraph reports on a study conducted at the University of London that showed parental influence to be five times more powerful than formal education. (Source)
    · The Heritage Foundation says that there is a “strong relationship between parental influences and children’s educational outcomes, from school readiness to college completion.” (Source)
    · This Op-Ed piece from the New York Times says that teenagers whose parents read them books often as young children scored much higher on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) test than those whose parents did not often read to them. (Source)
    · But this blog post, also from the New York Times, begs to differ. Parent involvement in a child’s education, according to a study by the authors, is overrated.

    What do you think? Do you believe that how you supplement your child’s formal education at home has as strong — or stronger — of an influence on your child’s standardized test scores than their formal public school education does? Weigh in on our Facebook Page, or leave a comment right here on the blog.

    You can read the full story that inspired this post here.

    Bookmark Missouri Parent News today or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates on Missouri education policy, testing, and other educational initiatives affecting Missouri’s public school students.

  • Missouri Education Advocates: The Missouri National Education Association (MNEA)


    Name: The Missouri National Education Association (MNEA)

    About: MNEA is a professional membership organization serving 35,000 Missouri teachers, librarians, counselors, coaches, school psychologists and psychiatrists, administrators, and college and university faculty. Any school employee, including bus drivers, cooks, nurses, and secretaries, can join MNEA.

    MNEA advocates for “public schools, public school students and public school employees,” and offers a variety of services including legal programs, special events, public relations campaigns, professional development, legislative work, and more.

    MNEA is affiliated with the National Education Association (NEA). The mission of MNEA is “to serve as the united voice to promote, advance and protect public education and to advocate for the rights and interests of students and our members.” (Source)

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    President: Charles Smith


    Social Media Sites:
    MNEA on Facebook
    MNEA on Flickr
    MNEA on Twitter
    MNEA on YouTube

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    MNEA’s Platform & Priorities
    MNEA’s State Legislative Updates
    The Education Advocate (EA) Daily News
    MNEA Legislative Action Center
    Contact Your State or National Legislator Page
    Political Action Program

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates,” which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates

  • Missouri Education Advocates: AFT-Missouri


    Name: American Federation of Teachers, Missouri Chapter (AFT-Missouri)

    About: The American Federation of Teachers, ALF-CIO is national organization. AFT-Missouri is Missouri’s local AFT union.

    Tweet with us using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

    Mission: The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.

    Number of Employees: 2

    President: Kelly McClendon


    Social Media Sites:
    National AFT on Facebook
    National AFT on Twitter

    Legislation & Advocacy:
    National Legislative Action Center
    Missouri AFT Legislation

    This post is part of a running series called “Missouri Education Advocates”, which is designed to highlight the professional education organizations in Missouri that work on public education legislation and advocacy. These short and sweet features highlight basic information about some of Missouri’s leading education organizations.

    Connect with Missouri Parent on Facebook and Twitter and share our Missouri Education Advocates posts with your network using the hashtag #MoEdAdvocates.

  • Education & Technology: A Meeting of the Minds


    On October 17th and 18th, educators and technology gurus gathered together for a two-day conference called the St. Louis Tech for Schools Summit. The Summit gave teachers, edtech companies, and entrepreneurs the chance to share best practices, test out technology products, and exchange expertise.

    The event was organized by EdSurge, an independent news research company devoted to covering education technology and its role in schools. While conferences are, in fact, part of the revenue model at EdSurge, the St. Louis Tech for Schools Summit was absolutely free for educators.

    Opportunities for entrepreneurs and teachers to come together are more common these days than they have traditionally been in public schools. In January, a relatively new organization called Startup Weekend Education will come to Kansas City, Missouri, while programs like Missouri DECA have encouraged business thinking in education for decades.

    What made the St. Louis Tech for Schools Summit unique is that it gave educators—who have classroom and subject area knowledge and expertise—the opportunity to talk directly to edtech companies and entrepreneurs about the products and services on the market for students. As EdSurge says, the Summit is a chance to “try out some of the most innovative technology being built for schools”. (source)

    To see a list of the specific priorities articulated by the Summit’s district partners, click here.

    There’s something intriguing and potentially very valuable about bringing educators together with businesses in a meeting of the minds on educational technology. In an educational landscape that is weighted either for big business or for schools (but rarely for both), EdSurge has created a unique opportunity to bring the strengths and experiences of both industries together for mutual benefit.

    EdSurge also offers detailed research documents (for a fee) on educational technology topics ranging from edtech fundraising to trends in the field. Its Product Insights, which synthesize feedback on technology products from hundreds of educator reviews into one concise document, might be particularly useful for edtech decision makers in public schools.

    To learn more about trends, funding issues, and legislation affecting Missouri schools, bookmark the Missouri Parent Blog, visit us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

  • Creating Classroom Magic

    In a speaking style that borders on spoken word, Christopher Emdin talks to the TED@NYC audience about effective teaching. Emdin’s inspirations? Rappers, the black church, and great conversations in local barber shops.

    These places in the urban community, says Emdin, are the places where teachers can learn to truly engage their students in the classroom.

    Emdin isn’t a run-of-the-mill educational leader. He’s a science advocate who studies hip hop and urban education while teaching teachers to teach at Columbia University. He writes about contemporary social issues for a number of reputable publications, and he’s involved as an advisor and speaker to organizations all over the world.

    So what does Dr. Emdin have to say about teaching? He believes that “magic” — that almost indescribable way that some people have with capturing an audience and holding its attention — can be taught to teachers.

    “Why does teacher education only give you theory and theory and tell you about standards and tell you about all these things that have nothing to do with the basic skills — that magic that you need — to engage an audience? To engage a student?

    So I make the argument that we reframe teacher education. We can focus on content, and that’s fine. We can tell focus on theories, and that’s fine. But content and theories in the absence the magic of teaching and learning means nothing.”

    “I’m here to tell you that magic can be taught.”

    Dr. Emdin believes that teachers in training can learn the “magic” of audience engagement by studying the traits, body language, and other subtle communications cues used by great performers, and that teachers can apply those techniques for self-expression and engagement in their classrooms.

    To learn more about Dr. Embin’s approach to teaching teachers to engage students, watch his

    Hear what Dr. Embin has to say in this 7-minute-long TED Talk:

  • Teachers Are Miracle Workers

    There are some extraordinary teachers in the world, and Taylor Mali was one of them. A leader of the poetry slam movement, Mali spent nearly a decade in the classroom, and is now an advocate for teachers and teaching.

    In June, 2000, Mali left the classroom looking for another way to teach. His goal? To inspire 1,000 people to become teachers “through poetry, persuasion, perseverance, and passion”. He called this The New Teacher Project.

    In 2012, Mali reached his goal. You can see the list of 1,000 men and women Mali inspired to teach here.

    Mali is also an author. He’s published three books: What Teachers Make (Putnam 2012), The Last Time As We Are (Write Bloody Books 2009), and What Learning Leaves (Hanover 2002).

    In this short, funny video, Mali says, “I’m not your father, I’m not your mother, I’m not your jailer, I’m not your torturer. I’m not even your biggest fan in the whole wide world, even though sometimes I act like all of these things.

    I know you can do these things that I make you do, that’s why I do them. I’m a teacher, and that’s what we do; we’re miracle workers.”

    What do you think? Have you seen teachers work miracles in your child’s life, in your child’s school, or in your community? Leave a comment or give a shout-out to a teacher (or teachers) you think are miracle workers.

  • Leadership Development Program Announced for Missouri Educators

    The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has partnered with the National Institute for School Leadership (NISL) to offer its Executive Development Program to Missouri educators through the Missouri Leadership for Excellence, Achievement and Development (MoLEAD) project.

    The NISL’s Executive Development Program emphasizes the role of principals as leaders and strategic thinkers, helping them build the skills necessary to set direction for teachers and to run efficient organizations.

    MoLEAD will use the NISL Executive Development Program to train more than 300 educators (superintendents, principals, assistant principals, and teacher leaders, specifically) from nine regions of the state. The ultimate goal is to raise student achievement by offering high-level professional development for those school leaders selected to participate.

    According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the MoLEAD curriculum “will focus on instructional leadership with emphasis on new Missouri academic standards and best instructional practices” (source).

    Educator training will take place online and in face-to-face sessions, combining hands-on experiences with mentoring opportunities. The first group of participants began the MoLEAD program in January and will complete the program in July.

    MoLEAD is just one more way that the state of Missouri is working toward achieving a “Top 10 by 20” status; ranking in the top 10 performing states in the country in public education by the year 2020. (Part of the Top 10 by 20 initiative is to prepare, develop, and support effective educators.)

    Image via Getty.

  • Chelsea Clinton: My Favorite Teacher

    Chelsea Clinton Shares a Memory of a Favorite Teacher from NBC News on Vimeo.

    Chelsea Clinton’s fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Porter. Standing barely five feet tall, Mrs. Porter left a big impression on Chelsea. In fact, the impression she left has lasted more than 20 years.

    What did Mrs. Porter do that was so impactful? According to Chelsea, fourth grade was a year when what she’d learned in reading, science and math all came together into projects that required her to use her mind (and her imagination) in new ways.

    What Missouri public school teacher or teachers have left a lasting impression on you or your child? Leave a comment on the Missouri Parent Blog or on our Facebook Page letting us know who that teacher was and what kind of difference they made in your child’s (or your own) life.

    Chelsea Clinton was in Kansas City recently. Photo via David Eulitt, Kansas City Star.

  • Teacher Tenure & the Legislative Session

    The Missouri House Interim Committee on Education identified 12 educational issues during its public hearings in October 2013 that we can expect to hear discussed more frequently in 2014. One of those issues is Missouri teacher tenure.

    Teacher tenure is a divisive topic in our state. Part of the reason for that division is that there are a number of misconceptions about teacher tenure in Missouri. The most prominent misperception might be that tenure protects teachers from involuntary dismissal. In fact, tenured teachers can be (and are) fired in Missouri for a number of reasons.

    The Committee’s final report said that, “ideally ineffective teachers are coached into being more effective or coached out of the profession”.

    Missouri’s current teacher tenure law allows for that coaching, as well as for the immediate dismissal of teachers who meet certain dismissal criteria.

    Missouri teacher tenure is good for several other reasons as well:

    · Teacher tenure protects experienced (and more expensive) teachers from being released and replaced by less experienced (and less expensive) teachers without just cause.
    · Teacher tenure protects teachers from being fired for using unpopular or controversial teaching tactics or curriculum.
    · Tenure protects teachers from being fired for political, personal, or non-work-related reasons.
    · Teacher tenure helps to attract and retain talented and effective teachers to teach in Missouri’s public schools.
    · Tenure empowers teachers to advocate for students when those same teachers question the administrative choices of their principals or superintendents.

    As the current legislative session gets underway, teacher tenure will continue to be a contentious subject of discussion. Missouri Parent believes that teacher tenure is a good policy for Missouri’s K-12 public school teachers and students. It should be reiterated that even with tenure, any teacher can be fired at any time in Missouri for a number of reasons. To learn more about teacher tenure in Missouri, click here.

    Teacher Tenure and Teacher Shortages in the State of Missouri
    Common Misperceptions About Teacher Tenure in Missouri

  • An Inspiring New Book About Teachers

    Katrina Fried is the author of a new book called American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom (Welcome Books, 2013), a celebration of educators who go far above and beyond the call of duty.

    Fried spent two years interviewing fifty K-12 teachers from public and charter schools around the country — teachers who are making a difference every day in the lives of students in their classrooms.

    In an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Fried described her hopes for the book:

    “The aim and the purpose of the book was to invite readers into the classrooms of teachers who are doing incredible work; that are achieving in spite of systemic issues and problems; and that are really finding innovative and unique solutions to pretty ubiquitous and common problems.” (source)

    Fried tells the stories of classroom teachers from Los Angeles to Kansas City to New York. She tells the stories of teachers who write mathematics rap and hip hop to teach math fundamentals and of teachers who use sustainable agriculture to engage at risk students.

    The book isn’t just a retelling of those teacher’s stories though. Fried incorporates letters from students, and a number of well-known photographers contributed portraits of teachers and their classrooms to the book.

    American Teacher has received great reviews from teachers and education advocates. One teacher from Redwood Washington said:

    “I am so inspired and encouraged by the amazing teachers in this book! Thank you for taking the time to get to know us and present what we do to the public!” (source)

    If you’re interested in reading American Teacher — or in giving it as a gift to your child’s favorite educator — you can purchase it online from or from Barnes & Noble.

  • A Documentary You Should Know: TEACH

    As Missouri Parent seeks to build relationships and understanding between students, parents and public education in our state, a new documentary uses this line of thought to shine a light on the profession of teaching.

    Academy Award winning director Davis Guggenheim uses his documentary TEACH to ask the question, “What does it take to be a teacher?” and to show people around the country what great teaching looks like.

    His hope? That the film inspires “to realize that teaching is a tough, demanding, deeply meaningful job where the stakes are high, and the rewards infinitely rich.” (source)

    The film follows four classroom teachers inside four public school classrooms for one school year. The teachers are: Matt Johnson, a 4th grade teacher in Denver; Shelby Harris, a 7th grade math teacher in Idaho; Joel Laguna, a 10th grade AP world history teacher in Los Angeles; and Lindsay Chinn, a 9th grade algebra teacher in Denver.

    Each teacher teaches a different subject area and in a different location, but all share the grit and resolve it takes to make a difference to their students.

    You can learn much more about the film and its mission at

    What do you think it takes to be a teacher? Leave a comment today here on the Missouri Parent Blog.

  • Talking to Your Child About Parent Teacher Conferences

    Earlier this week, we shared a blog post called “Making the Most of Parent Teacher Conferences”. Today, we’ll explore how conversations with your child before and after your parent teacher conference will help engage your son or daughter in the process.

    Before the Parent Teacher Conference
    One of the most important ways you can prepare for a parent teacher conference is to talk with your child.

    Start by reassuring your child that you and the teacher will be meeting because you both want him or her to enjoy learning and to succeed in school.

    Engage your son or daughter in the conversation before you meet with the teacher by asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to the answers.

    Some examples of open-ended questions include:

    What’s your favorite subject this year? (why?)
    What’s your least favorite? (and why?)
    What do you think of your teacher?
    Do you spend time with other teachers, too, for classes like PE, speech, art, or music?
    Tell me about the kids in your class.
    What’s lunchtime like at school?
    Who do you like to play with at recess? What kinds of games do you play together?

    Talking About Grades
    Ask your child about recent homework assignments, projects, assignments and test scores. Has he or she finished any units recently? Was there an end-of-unit project or exam? How did he or she do? Did he or she feel prepared for the test or quiz?

    Especially for older students, it can also be helpful to talk about the school’s grading scales, and whether there are grading curves on assignments or tests. Talk about upcoming standardized tests, advanced placement exams, the ACT or the SAT. Does your child feel prepared for those tests? Find out if there’s anything you can talk with his or her teachers about to help him or her feel confident about those tests.

    Talk to Your Son or Daughter After
    Once you’ve met with your son or daughter’s teacher(s), talk with your child again. Share any good news first, and then talk about any concerns your child’s teacher had. If you discussed improvement plans (informal or formal) with the teacher, share those with your child as well.

    You, your child, and his or her teacher(s) each play an important role in your child’s success in and enjoyment of school. Bringing your child into the conversation both before and after parent teacher conferences will keep him or her engaged in his or her education.

    If this post was helpful, consider signing up for Missouri Parent email updates, delivered directly to your inbox. Signing up is easy; all we need is your email address and zip code, entered at the top of this page.

  • Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

    No matter what grade your child is in this year, you’ll probably find yourself attending parent teacher conferences. Whether you’re a first timer or an old pro, we think the tips that follow will help you make the most of the time you spend with your child’s teacher(s) this year.

    The Basics: As with any other appointment or meeting, you’ll make the best impression when you arrive prepared and on time (or early!).

    Be open-minded: your child’s teacher sees a different side of your child at school than you do at home, and he or she may have feedback that surprises you.

    Have a good attitude. Remember that parent teacher conferences are a constructive opportunity, and that may mean that you receive unexpected or negative feedback on your child’s behavior or grades. Listen to what the teacher has to share, and then focus together on formal or informal improvement plans.

    Do Your Homework: Your son or daughter’s teacher will invest time and energy into planning his or her conference with you, and we encourage you to do the same.

    Scholastic recommends compiling a folder — beginning on the first day of the academic year or semester — of your child’s grades, informal reviews, larger project or homework scores, and any other notes or feedback you’ve received from the school.

    The national Parent Teacher Association also recommends making a list of questions, concerns, and subjects for discussion. Thing to consider include school-based topics like grades, but can also include behavioral, social or personal topics that are relevant to your child’s performance.

    Does your child have a special talent, hobby, or extra-curricular activity that might affect his or her motivations, energy levels, or focus at school? Maybe your son competes on the weekends in martial arts tournaments or your daughter spends hours at night writing computer code. If your child has special talents, interests, or hobbies, consider sharing them with his or her teacher.

    Finally, family dynamics and life changes (divorce, death of a family member or beloved pet, etc.) can affect a child’s school experience, and most teachers would like to know if those circumstances are part of the bigger picture of your child’s mental and physical health and well being.

    Ongoing Communication: Don’t be shy! Ask your child’s teacher what his or her preferred communication style is and how the two of you can stay in touch moving forward. From periodic phone calls or emails to formal improvement plans, you can have a truly positive impact on your child’s education.

    Extra Credit: For extra credit, drop your son or daughter’s teacher a thank you note after your conference.

  • Teaching is the Core (of Common Core)

    Missouri is one of 45 states nationwide that has adopted Common Core State Standards, providing a clear understanding of what students are expected to learn in school.

    Common Core State Standards were created by an independent, bipartisan group of leaders who wanted to provide a set of common standards across all states that would ensure that students are ready for college and career.

    Both Missouri and New York adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, and New York has since put together this video, explaining how Common Core Standards put teaching at the core of learning.

    Teaching is the Core from EngageNY on Vimeo.

    The teachers interviewed in the video emphasize the positive interaction of students with the materials they’re learning, and with one another through Common Core.

    One teacher commented that she sees fewer “passive learners” than before, and Peter Mesh, a 5th grade teacher in Wynantskill New York, says, “ “When we have a lesson that’s focused on the Common Core instructional shifts, the students are much more engaged with each other.”

    Students in the video call Common Core work more difficult than their schoolwork before Common Core:

    “It’s a lot harder. You have to work hard; you have to stay on top of your work”, says a 12th grade student named Bridget from Unadilia, New York.

    Lorie Ostrander, a Network Team Member Curriculum Coordinator at Boards of Cooperative Educational Services in New York says, “The bars have been raised. College and career readiness is different than it used to be.”

    The Common Core State Standards “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn”, and are “designed to be robust and relevant to the real world.”

    After watching the New York State Common Core video, do you think that students are engaged by Common Core learning? Do you think that Common Core has pushed New York’s teachers and administrators to hold their students to higher standards of learning? Leave a comment today on the blog!

    Want to continue to better-understand Common Core and how it can help Missouri’s students to be competitive academically and in life after high school? Sign up today for Missouri Parent email updates, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!

  • Is Curiosity the Key to Learning?

    Click the image above to view Ramsey's full TED talk.

    A 35-year-old high school chemistry teacher at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep in San Francisco was diagnosed with an aneurism that lead to open heart surgery.

    This teacher, named Ramsey Musallam, learned something about teaching as he underwent surgery for his life-threatening aneurism. He found himself comforted by his surgeon’s confidence, and he asked his surgeon where he acquired this confidence.

    “First, his curiosity drove him to ask hard questions about the procedure; about what worked and what didn’t work,” said Musallam.

    “Second, he embraced and didn’t fear the messy process of trial and error — the inevitable process of trial and error,” Musallam continued. “And third, through intense reflection he gathered the information that he needed to design and revise the procedure. And then, with a steady hand, he saved my life.”

    So what does this have to do with teaching? Musallam says that his doctor’s confidence inspired him to write down three rules of his own — rules to spark learning in his students.

    Ramsey Musallam’s Three Rules to Spark Learning:
    1) Rule #1: Curiosity comes first.
    2) Rule #2: Embrace the mess. (Trial and error is an important part of what teachers do every day)
    3) Rule #3: Practice reflection. (Teaching deserves care, reflection, and revision.)

    “Questions and curiosity are magnets that draw us towards our teachers. And they transcend all technologies or buzz words in education. But if we place these technologies before student inquiry, we could be robbing ourselves of our greatest tool as teachers; our students’ questions.”

    -Ramsey Masallum, high school chemistry teacher

    Musallam calls other teachers to inspire learning rather than simply reciting information to students.

    “...if we as educators leave behind this simple role disseminators of content and embrace a new paradigm as cultivators of curiosity and inquiry,” says Musallam, “we just might bring a little bit more meaning to their [our students’] school day.”

    What Do You Think?
    As a Missouri parent, have you witnessed your child’s curiosity sparked by great teachers?

    Do you believe that teachers can make learning more meaningful sparking curiosity?

    Leave a comment today on the MOParent Blog, Like us on Facebook, or Follow us on Twitter. And for educational updates delivered directly to your inbox, subscribe today to Missouri Parent emails.

  • What are Missouri’s Essential Principles of Effective Evaluation?

    Recently, we outlined the new Model Educator Evaluation System for public school teachers, principals and superintendents.

    Each Missouri elementary and secondary school is required to either adopt this new evaluation system or implement its own system that aligns with the seven Essential Principles of Effective Evaluation.

    Of those seven Principles, three address the structure of the evaluation process and four address the process itself:

    (1) Clear Expectations: Research-Based & Proven Targets
    Teachers will be evaluated using a clear, research-based system that aligns to state and/or national standards and state laws.

    (2) Differentiated Performance Levels
    Teachers should continually improve their educational practices. Opportunities for each teacher’s growth and development will be identified based on where a teacher is on the system’s professional continuum [Link to “Expecttions of Missouri’s Public School Teachers Depend on Experience Level” post].

    (3) Probationary Period
    Evaluators will gather performance data during new educators’ first few years on the job; a time of critical growth and development for teachers. During that time, new teachers will be inducted into the school, mentored based on state standards and given non-evaluative socialization support.

    (4) Student Measures
    Teachers should be held accountable for their students’ learning growth. The state’s evaluation standards make it possible for educators to use a number of metrics to measure growth in student learning over time.

    (5) Regular, Meaningful Feedback
    Receiving feedback is critical to teacher growth. In order to help teachers continually improve, they’ll receive ongoing, deliberate, meaningful and timely feedback both formally and informally. The culture for teacher feedback should be collaborative and conversational — designed to encourage conversation throughout an educator’s career.

    (6) Evaluator Training
    Evaluators — including master teachers, peers, and other trained parties — will receive standardized training initially and throughout their time as an evaluator. For students to grow, teachers need to grow, and well-trained evaluators are an important part of teacher feedback.

    (7) Use of Evaluation Results
    Highly effective educators should be recognized and utilized to improve student learning, while ineffective educators should be targeted for intervention and professional support. Personnel employment decisions and school policies should be informed by the results of educator evaluations.

    “Effective educator evaluation systems promote the improvement of professional practice resulting in the improvement of student performance.”
    -Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

    Each of the Essential Principles of Evaluation is proven and research-based. More than 100 schools in Missouri piloted the new evaluation system during the 2012-13 school year, and the new system was approved by the Missouri State Board of Education in May 2013.

    To learn more about Missouri’s new Educator Evaluation Standards, click here. For an explanation of the “professional continuum” mentioned above, click here.

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  • Expectations of Missouri’s Public School Teachers Depend on Experience Level

    On May 14, 2013, the Missouri State Board of Education approved the Educator Evaluation System. This new system evaluates teachers, principals and superintendents throughout their careers.

    As part of the evaluation system, a continuum was design to show where an educator is in his or her career. The continuum is designed to reflect a teacher’s performance rather that his or her years of service.

    According the Executive Summary of the Educator Evaluation System, “the professional continuum identifies expectations of performance at the candidate level (pre-service) and at four levels of performance for the teacher, leader and superintendent.”

    This post will focus on the continuum for teachers, but similar spectrums exist in then new system for principals and superintendents, as well. The four levels of teacher experience on the professional continuum are defined as “Emerging Leader”, “Developing Teacher”, “Proficient Teacher”, and “Distinguished Teacher”.

    Teachers are expected to show increased maturity, knowledge and skill over time. As a teacher gains experience, the expectations of his or her performance change. What follows is a general overview of how the state’s new evaluation system outlines career growth along a teacher’s professional continuum:

    At each level of performance in teacher’s career, the expectations of him or her increase in each of nine “Standards”; (1) content knowledge, (2) student learning, growth, and development, (3) curriculum implementation, (4) critical thinking, (5) positive classroom environment, (6) effective communication, (7) student assessment and data analysis, (8) professionalism, and (9) professional collaboration.

    Emerging Leader: A new teacher who applies base knowledge and skills as he or she begins to teach. He or she advances student growth and achievement in his or her classroom.Developing Teacher: A teacher early in his or her assignment who continually develops his or her teaching, content, knowledge, and skills as he or she encounters new experiences and expectations in the classroom, school, district, and community. This teacher continues to advance student growth and achievement.

    Proficient Teacher: A career, professional teacher who continues to advance his or her knowledge and skills while consistently advancing student growth and achievement.

    Distinguished Teacher: A career, professional teacher whose performance exceeds proficiency and who contributes to the profession and larger community. This teacher consistently advances student growth and achievement and serves as an educational leader in the school, district, and the profession.

    The Missouri Educator Evaluation System clearly articulates “quality indicators” for each of those nine standards, and it defines how an Emerging, Developing, Proficient, or Distinguished Teacher who meets each standard would teach and/or lead students and other teachers in his or her school, district, or community.

    The overarching goal of the Educator Evaluation System is to improve student performance, and student performance will only improve as long as each teacher continually improves his or her own practice.

    The new system for evaluating Missouri’s teachers is designed to drive continuous teacher improvement (and student performance) at every stage of a teacher’s career.

    To learn more about the Educator Evaluation System, read the MOParent post, Understanding Missouri's New Teacher Evaluation Standards.

    Do you want to stay up to date on what’s happening in Missouri’s public schools? Subscribe today for MOParent email updates!

    MO Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education

  • Teacherpreneurs: What’s the Buzz About?

    In August 2013, a new book called Teacherpreneurs: Innovative Teachers Who Lead But Don’t Leave became available for purchase.

    The book, written by Barnett Berry, Ann Byrd, & Alan Wieder and published by Jossey-Bass, explores the career tracks of eight American teachers who are also classroom experts; educators who both teach in the classroom and influence education on a larger scale.

    “Teacherpreneurs” are defined as, “classroom experts who teach students for part of each day or week and spread sound practices and innovative ideas beyond their schools, districts, and states”. (Source:

    National Board Certified Teacher Dan Brown highlights teacherpreneurs in this TedX talk:

    What do you think about teacherpreneurship? Does it makes sense for excellent educators to spend part of their school day or school week outside the classroom, spreading best practices and playing an active role in educational policy-making?

    Leave a comment here, visit us on Facebook, and get updates directly in your inbox by signing up for Missouri Parent email updates at the top of this page.


    The book’s authors are employees of the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ), a North Carolina organization devoted “To connect, ready, and mobilize teacher leaders to transform our schools.”

    Author Barnett Berry is founder and CEO of CTQ, Ann Byrd is the chief operating officer and a partner at CTQ, and Alan Wieder works as a senior research consultant with CTQ.

    Each of the eight classroom experts featured in the book are also members of the CTQ Collaboratory; “an incubator for teachers’ bold ideas and innovative solutions”.

    Find more information about teacherpreneurs on CTQ’s website.



    Center for Teaching Quality


  • Teacher Tenure and Teacher Shortages in the State of Missouri

    On September 11th, the Missouri State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education met for the second of four hearings on teacher tenure and human resources in Missouri. The state’s teacher tenure policies were debated, and specific areas of teacher shortages were identified.

    The debate over teacher tenure in Missouri isn’t new. Tenure supports believe that tenure promotes teaching as a valued profession, and that tenured teachers are best positioned to become student advocates. Supporters are concerned that eliminating teacher tenure will drive good teachers out of the state.

    Opponents of teacher tenure feel that tenure makes it too expensive and too difficult to fire ineffective teachers. As a result, according to those who oppose tenure, teachers remain in Missouri’s educational system who would otherwise be fired.

    The Joint Committee also discussed a Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education study showing teacher shortages during the 2013-14 academic year. The eleven areas of teacher shortage were identified as: blind/partially sighted aides; deaf/hearing impaired aides; English as a second language; gifted programs; severely developmentally delayed students; school psychologists; school psychological examiners; physics; foreign languages; and computers/information technology.

    To help you better understand teacher tenure in the State of Missouri, MOParent has published posts explaining teacher tenure and discussion of common misperceptions about tenure.

    To continue to stay up-to-date on Missouri’s public education news and policies, subscribe to Missouri Parent email updates at the top of this page and Like Missouri Parent on Facebook.


    Kansas City Star

  • Understanding Missouri's New Educator Evaluation Standards

    Teachers and school administrators play an important role in student performance in Missouri. That’s why the state has recently adopted new standards for teacher, principal and superintendent evaluations.

    Missouri Commissioner of Education, Chris L. Nicastro says, "Quality educators are key to student learning. An effective evaluation system provides teachers and school leaders with feedback that will contribute to their development and performance throughout their careers."

    The new system, called the Model Educator Evaluation System, was created with the help of teachers and administrators across Missouri. The program was piloted in 105 school districts in 2012-2013, including some of the state’s largest districts as well as one of the state’s smallest. The Missouri State Board of Education approved the guidelines in May 2013.

    “Missouri’s Educator Evaluation System has been designed and created by many of the state’s finest educators with the goal of improving effective practice to create environments where students can accelerate learning and experience academic success.”
    - Taken from the Educator Evaluation System Executive Summary

    Here are the key takeaways of the Missouri Model Educator Evaluation System:
    · Teachers, principals and superintendents will be evaluated based on seven Essential Principles of Effective Evaluation
    · Evaluations will take place throughout an educator’s career; there’s always room for improvement
    · Schools have a choice between adopting the Educator Evaluation System or implementing their own evaluation system. If they adopt their own system, it must align with the Essential Principles of Effective Evaluation
    · The ultimate goal of the Educator Evaluation System is increased student performance

    Over the next few days, we’ll explain the Essential Principles of Effective Evaluation, the Professional Continuum of the Missouri Teacher, and other specifics of Missouri’s Educator Evaluation System.

    If you’re interested in successful Missouri educators, be sure to read about these two Missouri teachers who were inducted into the National Teaching Hall of Fame in 2013.

    To read more posts like this one, be sure to subscribe to the MOParent Blog using the email link at the top of the page. You can also Like us on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter!

  • Teaching from the Heart

    Stephen Rutherford, a science teacher who has spent 34 years in the classroom has a refreshing message for teachers.
    “Each teacher strives to make their teaching as meaningful as possible,” says Rutherford. “But what works for me is ‘teach from the heart’”.

    Standardized tests, national learning standards, and funding for schools are dominating public discourse on education, making it easy to forget that one of the most important attributes our teachers can bring the classroom is a passion their work.

    In 2008 the National Association for the Education of Young Children surveyed 43 early childhood educators about the personal characteristics that lead to effective teaching. “Passion about children and teaching” was ranked as the single most important trait a teacher could possess:

    “Probably more than anything else, teachers report that it’s important to have a passion for what you do.”

    Take a moment to think about your own favorite schoolteachers; the teachers who taught you the most, and whose classes you most enjoyed being part of. What things stand out in your memory? Were your favorite teachers kind? Were they knowledgeable? Were they excited to help you learn?

    We’d love to hear your stories. Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page telling us about a teacher who made a difference in your life or in the life of your son or daughter.

    If you enjoy posts like this one, and learning more about your son or daughter’s education, sign up for MOParent Email Updates today!

  • Two Missouri Public School Teachers Inducted into National Teachers Hall of Fame

    Of the five newest inductees into The National Teachers Hall of Fame, two are teachers in Missouri’s public schools.

    Daryl Johnson is a high school English teacher at Smithville High School in Smithville, MO, and Beth Vernon is an 8th grade Earth and Space Science teacher at Brittany Hill Middle School in Blue Springs, MO.

    Johnson, who has taught for 17 years, is also president of the Smithville Missouri NEA affiliate and is a National Board Certified teacher.

    An anonymous student on had this to say about Johnson’s teaching:

    “Mr. Johnson is without a doubt the best teacher I've ever had. He is funny and personable and entertaining. He is challenging without being over the top at all. Everyone is very attentive in his class and it is enjoyable. He is very passionate and always understanding. I definitely recommend him!”

    Vernon, who is in her 28th year of teaching, was also a Disney Award Teacher in 2010. Vernon’s principal, Dallas Truex, says, “Too many times we hear the things that aren’t going as well. We’ve got great teachers, and this is one of the examples of those teachers.”

    Three other teachers, representing Texas, Oklahoma, and Maryland, were also inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2013.


    The National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF), located in Emporia, Kansas, was founded in 1989 by Emporia State University, the ESU Alumni Association, the City of Emporia, USD 253, and the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce as a tribute to our nation's most important profession - - teaching.

    The Hall of Fame is committed to drawing the public's attention to exceptional PreK-12 teachers through a museum, teacher resource center, and recognition program which honors five of the nation's most outstanding PreK-12 educators each year. The NTHF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

  • Common Misperceptions About Teacher Tenure in Missouri

    Teachers in the state of Missouri achieve tenure after five years teaching full-time in the same school system. Teacher tenure does not prevent teachers from leaving their jobs, though, and tenure does not protect inadequate teachers from being fired. 

    Teachers May Leave Tenured Positions

    Tenured teachers are empowered to cancel their indefinite contracts, just as the school district may still terminate a tenured teacher. 

    Teachers who are tenured may terminate their contracts for the coming school years on or before June 1st without school board permission. Even if a teacher signs a contract in the spring, the teacher can leave the contract by providing written notice to the school district on or before June 1st of that same year. 

    Schools May Fire Tenured Teachers

    Perhaps one of the biggest misperceptions about teacher tenure in Missouri is that tenured teachers are protected from involuntary dismissal. 

    In fact, tenured teachers’ employment can be terminated involuntarily under several circumstances:

    ·         If the teacher has a physical or mental condition that renders him or her unfit to instruct or associate with children.
    ·         For immoral conduct.
    ·         For incompetence, inefficiency or insubordination in the line of duty.
    ·         For willful or persistent violation of Missouri’s school laws or the local school district’s published policies or regulations.
    ·         For excessive or unreasonable absences.
    ·         For conviction of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude.

    Is the School Required to Give the Teacher a 30-Day Improvement Period?

    In Missouri, unless a teacher is terminated on the basis of “incompetence, inefficiency or insubordination,” the teacher is not entitled to an improvement period. The school board is allowed to proceed immediately with the termination process. In other words, tenure does not protect teachers from being fired.  

    Written Notice of Termination

    School districts who terminate tenured teachers are required to serve the tenured teacher with “written charges specifying the grounds it believes exist for termination and notice of the right to a hearing”. 

    If the teacher does not request a hearing within 10 days of being served with written notice of dismissal, the school board may terminate the contract by a majority vote. 

    In addition, the school board may suspend teachers (with pay) during the termination process. 

    Teacher tenure in Missouri does not protect unfit teachers, nor does it protect teachers who have missed an excessive number of classes. Missouri’s teacher tenure does not project teachers who have broken Missouri’s school laws, state laws, district policies, or Federal laws. 

    Despite common misperceptions, tenured teachers in Missouri can still be fired.

    To learn more about teacher tenure and other educational policy issues in the state of Missouri, sign up for MOParent email update at the top of this page.

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