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NEA Today Magazine - Winter 2017

Cover Story

The Student Brain and Trauma

Traumatized students can be distracted, irritable, and have difficulty learning. Here’s how educators can help.

Where Students Won in Election 2016

How educator activism and voters’ support of local schools combined to create some important election victories.

Keeping Schools Safe and Happy Place For All Students

A positive climate boosts morale and achievement.

Get Organized!

Educators pave the way toward better teaching conditions.

NEA Celebrates 20 Years of Read Across America!

As NEA’s Read Across America celebrates another milestone, this year’s book selection features the diversity of today’s classrooms and communities.

I’m A Normal Kid

A conversation with two transgender students, and an educator, about how schools can better support transgender students.

Common Enrollment

A glance behind the façade of a simplified student enrollment process.

Education Support Professionals

Meeting the Needs of the Whole Student

Delaware food service workers win a first contract with a grievance process, standard leave policies, break times, professional development, and more. Plus, Utah School Employees Association President Jerad Reay and Utah ESP of the Year Colleen Mutcher thank the state’s ESPs and explain the power of collective action.

First and Foremost

A look at the elements that measure school quality; middle school students and social status; why pronouncing students’ names correctly matters; and the unjust treatment of Black girls in schools.

Teaching and Learning

How to help a student who appears to be unreachable; a picture book about slavery; Pokémon GO(es) to the library; and graphic novels go to class.

Issues and Impact

Students and educators make the case for immigration reform; educators’ shrinking incomes cause hardship.

People and Places

A New Jersey educator helps to reverse the education trend in a Nigerian community, and a teacher in Texas uses an environmental awareness club to improve students’ lives.

A Note From The Editor-In-Chief

Helping kids who’ve lived through trauma.

Lily’s Blackboard

Educators never give up.

Extra Credit

The connection between state lotteries and public education.


Talk Back

Bring Back Recess

I agree that students need more recess time. “Time For Recess!” (Fall 2016). However, in my experience, teachers are not generally given control over how much recess kids get or when they have it. Unfortunately, recess takes a back seat in scheduling due to requirements by districts to meet a certain amount of minutes (continuous in many cases) of literacy and math. When you are required to fit in 90 continuous minutes of literacy, 60 continuous minutes of math, 30 minutes of writing, special classes, lunch—and somewhere fit in science, SS and SEL—recess gets stuck in the five or 10 minute gap left in the day. This was even the case when I taught all day kindergarten the last four years. Every year, due to scheduling requirements, it got harder and harder to fit in recess. We were then pushed to include brain breaks, which boiled down to movement during instruction time. While incorporating movement during instruction is beneficial, it cannot replace unstructured recess play.  —Heidi

Experience Always Matters

Of course experience matters in teaching, just as in any other profession. “Of Course Teaching Experience Matters,” (Fall 2016). The more you do something (practice) the better you are at it. Teachers have been under siege since No Child Left Behind. Tenured teachers have literally been treated like pariahs and have been terminated at an alarming rate. You have a bunch of young principals who taught only a few years, and couldn’t handle it so they rushed and got an online degree and took their administrative test. These people are now running schools and chasing away good teachers.  —Luke

Well-Rounded Education? Let’s Wait and See.

I’ve been teaching for 21 years. “Goodbye ‘Core Subjects,’ ‘Hello, Well-Rounded Education,’” (Fall 2016). I’ll believe this when I see it instituted in inner city schools like the one I teach in where test scores mean everything and the arts have no place in the school. 

– Carrie

Block Schedules No Stress Reducer

In “Stress Test” (Fall ‘16), it is implied that there is some sort of truth to the idea that block schedules decrease stress, when in person I have seen the opposite.  As a teacher in both block and traditional schedule schools, what I have seen is that block schedules increase fatigue, increase stress about tests for students, and decrease the chance for scaffolding for average students. Homework actually ends up taking longer. What should be quick homework built to reinforce skills or knowledge the same day it was taught, don’t get attempted until 40 hours later, at which point the students have forgotten the class and either get frustrated and give up, or have to re-teach themselves the material using outside sources, leading to longer homework sessions.

– Silja

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