Teachers Say Mental Health Is Suffering

Fifty-eight percent of teachers said their mental health was not good for seven or more of the previous 30 days, according to a recent survey conducted by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). That’s compared to 34 percent who said so in a similar survey from 2015.

AFT President Randi Weingarten credited the increase to stress over the coarseness of current political debate. The majority of survey respondents—86 percent—also said they did not feel respected by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Amazon Offers $25,000 for Kid-Friendly Alexa Skills

Amazon has launched a developer challenge that encourages interested parties to craft skills- or voice-activated apps. The company says the challenge is “aimed at kids under 13 for a chance to win a share of $250,000 in prize money, including a total of $25,000 to the grand prize winner.”

In addition, 19 other finalists will win $5,000. Contestants could also win money in categories such as best educational skill or best skill by a high school student.

Teacher Leadership = Higher Test Scores

Students at schools where teachers have a leadership role in decision making perform significantly better on state tests, according to a new analysis of data from the New Teacher Center’s survey, “Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning.”

Schools with the highest levels of instructional and teacher leadership rank at least 10 percentage points higher on state tests in both math and English/language arts, compared with schools that have the lowest levels—even after controlling for factors such as school poverty, size, and location.

The study concluded, however, that “leadership elements that are most related to student achievement are the ones that are least often implemented in schools.”

Can Dance Improve Scientific Learning?

Yes, says a report by North Carolina State University.

Specifically, the researchers “conducted interviews and focus groups with students who took part in on-campus dance companies as undergraduates,” with 15 of the 25 students pursuing STEM majors, including “applied mathematics, engineering, and chemistry.”

The researchers found “that dance helped the science students to develop strengths in critical areas such as creativity and persistence, thus bolstering their classroom outcomes.” The student participants also said that their dance companies fostered a sense of community, gave them an outlet for self-expression, and introduced them to a more diverse group of people.