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5 Things You Should Know - 2010 NEA Today GO!

1. Get Involved!

These are tough times to be a teacher. More than 100,000 of your colleagues—including 22,000 in California and 17,000 in Illinois—took home pink slips this spring, and attacks on teacher tenure have been waged in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and elsewhere. As always, a good offense is your best defense. Learn more about pending legislation and participate in NEA’s efforts on behalf of pro-public education policies at

2. x + Y = U
Hey, new math teachers! You may not be as well prepared as educators in Taiwan and Singapore, according to the first international Teacher Education Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M). Aspiring educators here at home scored middling on the skills test, about the same as those in Germany, Norway, and Russia, but not as well as the Asian powerhouses. Most likely, the Taiwanese benefit from college programs that spend more time on math content and less on pedagogy. But, here at NEA Today Go!, we wonder what’s the point of learning linear algebra if you can’t explain it to your students?

3. For the Golden Years
If you think you have years before you need to worry about retirement, think again. It’s time to start contributing to your 401(k). “Most new teachers will think they cannot afford to invest, but I truly believe they cannot afford not to,” says Jill Hughes, a Wisconsin business teacher. Compound interest is your best friend in old age.

4. Teacher Prep
Future teachers should be trained more like medical doctors, according to some school reformers. (Paging Dr. Grey!) Consider the Boston Teacher Residency, run jointly by Harvard University and Boston public schools. Like a medical residency program, it greatly expands “clinical practice,” requiring its 75 participants to spend four days a week in a classroom with a master teacher. Although program officials don’t have data on whether its graduates have any greater impact on student achievement, they are more likely to stay in their jobs.

5. Digging In­
You know your kids love their schoolyard garden. And you suspect they’re learning an awful lot through these science and nutrition lessons brought to life. But recent research from the Sage Colleges of New York suggests that getting dirty might also make kids smarter. Previous research has already shown that bacteria found naturally in dirt decreases anxiety in laboratory animals, and the latest studies show it also increases their cognitive function. Start digging!

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