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How I Teach: America’s teacher of the year has an agenda

Welcome to the “happy birthday” edition of How I Teach!

The newsletter is officially one year old and to celebrate, we’d like to invite more people to the party. You can help us out by forwarding this email to friends and colleagues who might appreciate a monthly dose of teacher wisdom and inspiration — plus a roundup of current education news. New subscribers can sign up here. 

Read on to meet Rodney Robinson, a social studies teacher at a Virginia juvenile detention facility and America’s 2019 teacher of the year. Find out why he felt strongly about visiting the White House even though other top teachers boycotted the event and what he shared with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Thanks for reading!

— Ann

In their own words.

RODNEY ROBINSON, history, juvenile detention facility, Richmond
Robinson talked about the soft spot he has for students in the foster care system and how he put “democracy in action” after he was named National Teacher of the Year.

ANGELIQUE HINES, fourth and fifth grade, Memphis
One of her students said he missed his old school because his days there included little to no work. But Hines refuses to let her students coast because she doesn’t want their “ZIP code to define them.”

JAKE MYERS, high school digital video, Chicago
Myers wants his teenage students to be able to think and speak for themselves in a world where they are inundated with screens and social media images.

SHAY DAILY, middle school special education, Indianapolis
Daily struggled in school and never dreamed he’d become a teacher. But now he believes he’s especially well-suited to help students with disabilities who are facing the same challenges he did.

Other stories you might have missed.

A GRADUAL EVOLUTION A white high school teacher started her career in a no-excuses school where she was afraid to talk about race. Visiting dozens of successful schools changed her thinking. More

“REAL RAISES” Detroit teachers rallied this week for higher pay and also raised concerns about new curriculum and changes to the student code of conduct. More  

COPING WITH TRAGEDY Denver-area teachers and parents recently shared their anger, frustration, and sadness after a school shooting left one student dead and eight others injured. More

DEVOS DIALOGUE U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently spoke to an audience of school choice supporters in Chicago about using grassroots parent groups to get her message across. More

DAMAGED BY LEAD After a New York City boy was poisoned by lead paint as a baby, his mother faced a long road finding the right educational help to address his complicated condition. More

WORKING TILL 2 A.M. An audio story from an Indiana teacher who reports to his restaurant job after his day in the classroom. He participated in a recent story slam co-hosted by Chalkbeat. More

FBI SCRUTINY Tennessee’s controversial voucher bill faces new resistance after reports of an FBI investigation examining the circumstances around its passage. More

TAKE IT FROM US As Chicago works to diversify its teacher workforce, three teachers of color offer advice for prospective educators. More


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot. Recommended by Dena Dewolf, master teacher, Detroit. “I think educators should read it but it should also be used for curriculum for grades 7-12. [Lacks] was a black female whose cells were taken without her consent and used for science. Her cells have been used to solve many medical mysteries yet few people are aware of the contribution her cells made. Furthermore, no one in her family was ever financially compensated for her contribution.”

Teach Like a Pirate” by Dave Burgess. Recommended by Stephanie N., a teacher educator from Southfield, Michigan. “The book provides evidence based strategies on how to hook your students into learning through high energy lessons.”

Do you have a reading recommendation for other educators? Let me know what it is and why you liked it, and I may feature your suggestion in a future newsletter. Just send me an email at or fill out this short form.

(Photo courtesy of Council of Chief State School Officers)

The post How I Teach: America’s teacher of the year has an agenda appeared first on Chalkbeat.

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