Archive for the ‘Digging Deeper’ Category

March 2017 Teacher Newsletter

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Teacher Voice & Opportunities to Support Students

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Teacher Voice & Opportunities to Support Students

The Rodel Teacher Council Wants To Hear From You

The Rodel Teacher Council is studying social and emotional learning (SEL) in Delaware and the nation and needs your input! Please take 15 minutes to share your knowledge of, attitudes, and beliefs toward SEL through this online survey. Individual responses will be kept confidential and will not be attributed to individuals.


Your responses will be compiled to create a clearer picture for educators and policymakers of what practices and programs are happening now and what else might be needed to make sure every child is supported socially, emotionally, and academically. The survey closes on March 17.

Complete The Survey Here

Conference Opportunities &
Requests for Input

Early Career Teacher Survey (Survey Closes Mar. 10)
Delaware’s Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow, Robyn Howton, is conducting a brief survey of second and third year teachers to better understand their experiences. The purpose of the survey is to better understand how teacher preparation programs can prepare teacher candidates for the realities of the classroom. After completing the six question survey, fill out the subsequent form for the opportunity to win one of three $50 Amazon gift cards.
Delaware’s 23rd Annual Inclusion Conference (Mar. 15, Dover)
The ​Inclusion ​Conference ​is ​designed ​to ​address ​the ​needs ​of ​educators, ​parents, ​policymakers, ​service ​providers, ​and ​child ​care ​providers ​involved ​with ​or ​interested ​in ​promoting ​inclusion ​for ​all ​from ​birth ​to ​21.

2017 LRNG Innovators Challenge (Applications due Mar. 16)
LRNG Innovators has a new grant challenge, inviting educators to imagine engaging ways to help young people explore their interests, igniting a passion that can lead to college, to a career, or having a positive impact on their community. Proposals may include programs, curricula, or projects that actively assist youth to discover interests connecting the spheres of their lives, both in and out of school, and provide potential future opportunities.

3rd Annual Delaware Pathways Conference (Mar. 29, Wilmington)
Partners throughout Delaware are collaborating to help students prepare for life after graduation. Join leaders from business, education, and state and community organizations at the Annual Delaware Pathways Conference, and explore how Delaware’s workforce system is to guiding young people toward meaningful career and postsecondary experiences. Attendees will hear from legislators on the future of Delaware Pathways; business leaders who offer work-based learning opportunities; community organizations who are focusing on programs for youth; and students who will share their Pathways stories.

Blended and Personalized Learning Conference (Mar. 31, Providence, RI)
This event is a chance for educators and leaders to discuss blended learning as it exists today on the ground – both in terms of the day-to-day implementation in blended classrooms, and the strategies and systems that have effectively supported replication and scale across schools and districts. Hosted by the Highlander Institute with program support from the Christensen Institute and the Learning Accelerator, the Blended and Personalized Learning Conference enjoys strong endorsements from the education community.

Making A Difference Conference (Mar. 31, Dover)
The Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children partners each spring with Delaware Head Start Association (DHSA), with support from Delaware Department of Education for the annual Making A Difference in Early Childhood: A Conference for Early Childhood Professionals.

ECET2 Delaware Recap
Educators from all across Delaware descended on the DelTech Terry Campus for a day of teacher-led training and celebration.

The first-ever ECET2 Delaware: Connecting Innovative Educators brought together teachers from across the state for an inspirational and empowering day of teacher-led and teacher-focused programming.

Over the course of six hours, attendees celebrated teacher leadership, learned about innovative classroom practices, explored technology in the classroom at the demo lab, and built connections with other educators. All sessions were led by teachers.

ECET2 stands for Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Teacher 2 Teacher, the national movement has spurred more than 111 regional convenings in 27 host states, and over 19,000 teachers have attended an ECET2 event.

10 Must Read Stories






Personalized Learning Tip of the Month

This playbook shares the findings of three researchers who set off to discover what K–12 schools can learn from the best-run organizations in America.

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Digging Deeper: Are Delaware Students Safe and Engaged?

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Digging Deeper
“Digging Deeper” is a recurring feature at the Rodel blog where we take some data on Delaware public schools—and put it under the microscope. In the spirit of our Public Education at a Glance, we’ll present a straightforward look at the numbers, and search for some deeper meaning.


Academic achievement is but one aspect of student success. To develop the “whole child” we must also nurture a student’s social and emotional skills. Research shows that a positive school climate impacts both academic achievement and the development of social and emotional skills. As recent concerns about school safety intensify, a stronger focus on school climate could help ensure that students remain safe and engaged.

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) six out of 10 Delaware children meet the Promoting School Success Index. This index measures student engagement, participation in extracurricular activities, and feeling safe at school. The survey provides data on various aspects of a child’s life, from physical and mental wellness, to neighborhood, school, and social contexts.

Eight out of 10 of eighth graders reported feeling safe in school in 2016. Still, almost half of students in eighth grade feel that violence is a problem at their school, according to the Delaware School Survey. The same pattern can be seen in fifth and 11th grade.

Research shows a correlation between student engagement in school and student achievement. Student engagement, often defined as students actively participating in learning, focusing attention to the topic at hand and staying on task. When students remain engaged, they learn better and perform better.

A positive school climate—one where students feel safe and cared for—influences not only academic performance, but behavioral outcomes and emotional health, according to the National School Climate Center. In fact, supporting positive school climate can be a preventative method for violence, bullying, and distraction.

Some solutions: Prioritizing Student Engagement and Safety

While the majority of Delaware students report feeling safe and engaged, it’s fair to ask: Is that enough? Student Success 2025 has a goal for all students to feel safe in school, and aims to raise the number of students that are consistently engaged in school to 95 percent. Thankfully we have some possible solutions to consider.

  • Using a personalized learning model, each student is met where they are academically while student agency and ownership is leveraged to increase engagement. To learn what personalized learning looks like in a Montessori classroom, read “Liberty within Limits: Personalized Learning in the Montessori Classroom” by Rodel Teacher Council member Cheryl Lynn Jones.
  • Delaware Pathways, a program designed to prepare public school students for the workforce, offers more real-life experiences and connections for students to remain on track for success. When students know that that success after high school is within reach, they are more likely to remain engaged in school.
  • Social and Emotional Learning, or the process through which students are taught positive relationship building, positive self-image, responsible decision-making, and other useful skills, is just one way that schools can create a supportive school environment and keeps students engaged. Check out this blog for more background on social and emotional learning—and to see what is already happening in Delaware.

Digging Deeper: Does Teacher Diversity Matter?

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“Digging Deeper” is a recurring feature at the Rodel blog where we take some data on Delaware public schools—and put it under the microscope. In the spirit of our Public Education at a Glance, we’ll present a straightforward look at the numbers, and search for some deeper meaning.

Kuumba classroom

There is a growing body of research suggesting that a more diverse teacher workforce increases student wellbeing and academic success. However, in Delaware—and the nation—the teacher workforce is far less racially diverse than the student populations they serve.


Here we’ll explore:

  • What does research say about the benefits of teacher diversity?
  • What is the current state of educator diversity in Delaware?
  • Who is taking action?


(Note: For the purposes of this “Digging Deeper” analysis, we will focus specifically on teacher student and racial demographics—one of the few comparative attributes we can measure with publicly available data.)


What Does Research Say about the Benefits of Teacher Diversity?


A more diverse teacher workforce could help narrow the achievement gap. According to research evidence, placing students with teachers of the same ethnicity/race could have implications for closing the achievement gap:


Increasing access to high-level coursework: Research from the University of Colorado examining the Impact of Black Teacher Role Models on Rigorous Math Taking showed that black math teachers had a positive impact on the likelihood of a student enrolling in advanced math courses.


There are social and emotional advantages to having teacher diversity. According to the Brookings Institute, some of the social and emotional benefits include:

  • Higher expectations of students of color from teachers. A Harvard University study examined teacher bias and expectations as a self-fulfilling prophecy and found that teacher expectations on student behavior can be powerful influencers for student performance and aspirations. This could have positive implications for gifted and talented programs, where students of color are grossly underrepresented.
  • Teachers serving as advocates for students. Studies have shown that teachers of color serves as advocates and mentors for students of color by helping them navigate school culture.


What is the Current State of Educator Diversity In Delaware?

Delaware teachers and principals are less diverse than the students they serve. According to the Delaware Department of Education data, students of color represent more than half of Delaware’s student population while teachers of color comprise only about 14 percent of the teacher workforce. These gaps are also evident at the district level.

Who is taking action?

Diversifying Delaware’s educator workforce could positively impact student success. There is a growing body of research indicating that teacher diversity can have a positive impact on students’ academic achievement and social and emotional learning. Furthermore, action is underway to make Delaware’s—and the nation’s—teacher workforce more diverse.


  • Preparing more diverse teachers – The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) and Delaware teacher preparation programs are working to increase the diversity of aspiring teachers. Diversity is a component of the new Teacher Prep Program Scorecards. Teacher prep programs are being scored on their efforts to recruit a more diverse student body. This year, the top three programs with the most diversity were Teach For America, Delaware Transitions to Teaching Partnership, and Alternative Routes to Certification. Each program’s proportion of non-white candidates was above 30 percent, while the state average is only 21 percent.


  • Delaware specific research and analysis – DDOE’s Delaware Talent Practices Report analyzes educator recruitment, hiring, and retention methods in Delaware schools. It also offers some best practices for recruitment of diverse teachers. The report advocates for districts to differentiate their strategies in recruiting diverse teacher candidates, and highlights best practices.



  • At the national level, teacher diversity has been addressed by the U.S. Department of Education through a series of programs and reports—the latest of which is highlighted here. The National Teacher Summit on Teacher Diversity was held in spring 2016, focusing on how to fill the teacher pipeline with more racially/ethnically diverse candidates. The summit also marked the release of The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce report, which highlights the lack of diversity in schools, makes the case for the benefits of a diverse teacher workforce, and even offers analyses of programs that are getting it right.

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