Educator Services

Teachers' Top Three from ESE - September 10, 2015

Welcome back! We know that the smiling faces in back-to-school photos are due to your work, and we wish you the best for the year ahead! We hope you'll find our Top Three for this week interesting, and we look forward to hearing from you through email ( or Twitter (#Top3fromESE).
  1. New Resources: Teacher Leadership Website
    Check out ESE's new Teacher Leadership website where you will find many new resources related to starting and growing teacher leadership roles. The materials were developed with teachers from a group of districts that worked together as part of a teacher leadership professional learning network (PLN), as well as teachers from the ESE Educator Effectiveness Teacher Advisory Cabinet.

    Resources include:

    • A video of PLN educators discussing the value of teacher leadership (You can also read an overview of the PLN Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document.)
    • An interactive resource on Creating and Sustaining Teacher Leadership Roles Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document based on lessons learned from the PLN districts' work together.
    • A brief on Building a School Culture that Promotes Teacher Leadership Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document written by members of ESE's teacher and principal advisory cabinets.
    • A series of case studies about teacher leadership work happening in Massachusetts districts:
      Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
      Leadership Boards and Councils: Decentralizing Decision-making in Revere Public Schools
      Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
      From Coach to Supervisor: Shifting Roles in Wareham Public Schools
      Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
      Who can be a Teacher Leader? Broadening the Definition in New Bedford Public Schools
      Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
      Moving to a Shared Curriculum: Teachers Leading the Way in Northampton Public Schools
      Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
      Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Building Trust in Wakefield Public Schools

    Please share these resources with colleagues and let us know how you used them. Find us on Twitter at @MASchoolsK12 and use the hashtag #Top3fromESE.

  2. FYI: PARCC Decision This Fall
    In spring 2015, 54 percent of districts in Massachusetts administered PARCC to 227,000 students in grades 3-8. Commissioner Chester will make his recommendation to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education this fall, and the Board will decide on whether Massachusetts will adopt the PARCC assessment in November. The Board's decision will be based on several sources of information, including data from the state's experience with PARCC; an upcoming study of PARCC's and MCAS' ability to predict students' readiness for college; and feedback collected from educators and others during the five PARCC forums held across the state last spring and summer.

    Of note: The Department will likely release MCAS scores later this month, but PARCC scores will be released later due to the processes involved with administering and scoring an assessment for the first time. We will continue to update the field through the Teacher's Top Three and the Commissioner's Weekly Update.

  3. Teacher Reflection: Focusing on Noticing Math Concepts, Not "Just Doing Math"
    Eddie Jou, a high school Advanced Placement calculus teacher at Match Charter Public School in Boston and a member of ESE's Teacher Advisory Cabinet, talks about his new approach for teaching challenging math concepts:

    This school year, my goal is to get students to do more noticing and wondering about mathematics.

    What sounds like a simple goal developed from math department meetings to solve all-too- familiar problems: students who are too eager to "math" numbers without understanding the question and students who give up the moment they run into any mathematical difficulty.

    When I plan my lessons, I now introduce topics by completely dropping the math question. Instead, I have my students notice anything they can from a piece of given information. To steal from Dan Meyer (a fellow math teacher; I highly recommend his TED Talk "Math class needs a math makeover"), I want to "create a need" for mathematics. Did my students notice the problem talked about derivatives? Good. Did my students notice that the graph is a second derivative graph, and therefore we might be talking about concavity? Excellent.

    Through noticing, I hope to give every student the ability to access the problem. Ultimately, I want students to become better problem solvers and to be able to reason through roadblocks.

    Questions I am already wrestling with after a few trial runs:

    1. What are the benefits and detriments of going deeper into fewer problems?
    2. How can I determine whether my students are better at "unsticking" themselves during difficult problems?

    I know many of you reading this have expertise and advice from which I could learn. I hope you will join and continue the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #Top3fromESE!

line Help us reach more teachers — Share this email with your colleagues and encourage them to sign up! To subscribe, please complete this short form. We also invite you to connect with other teachers across the state and ESE staff on Twitter. Find us at @MASchoolsK12 and use #Top3fromESE to discuss items from this newsletter or suggest new topics. If you have suggestions for content, questions, or comments, you can reach a member of our staff at

Last Updated: September 14, 2015

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