Teach: Tony Danza on A&E – My Review

Teach: Tony Danza – what happens when a career actor steps into the classroom and tries public school teaching, under lights and television cameras. Is is an accurate presentation of the profession? Not quite.

Every public school teacher should watch this show!

Teach: Tony Danza – what happens when a career actor steps into the classroom and tries public school teaching, under lights and television cameras. Is is an accurate presentation of the profession? Not quite.

Teach: Tony Danza is a reality show on A&E currently running on Friday nights. (You can currently catch all the epsiodes free online at hulu.com) The show has a lot to offer us as teachers as well as the “civilians” out there because it raises crucial topics about the profession. Tony Danza, actor made famous by shows Taxi and Who’s the Boss, actually taught for one year at a Philadelphia high school. Though it aims to be, the show is not a realistic portrayal of the teaching profession. Having said that, his reactions to the classroom challenge and administrative pressure feel real. They are an excellent starting point for understand the world that is teaching. I am glad this show was produced because it shows some extreme challenges we as teachers face. I hope the viewers take the good and leave the acting because there is quite a bit if it. As my long-term readers know, I’ve been a public school teacher for 13 years and therefore feel qualified to evaluate the show below.

  1. Teachers teach first, then ask. When they fail to teach, this is known as “forward questioning.” It is a big no no because it just doesn’t work. Danza loses a point for using forward questioning throughout the episodes.
  2. Danza does not stay focused and on topic. This is a nightmarish trait for a high school teacher, or any grade for that matter. Students need to be guided carefully and clearly through new concepts for them to take hold. Danza is an actor/entertainer and this is not what works with kids to teach them a year’s worth of standards.

Danza sweats and appears nervous many times in the show. He often appears over-extended. The viewer should note the following:

He taught 28 kids 45 minutes a day.

I teach 104 kids for 6 hours a day.

When he appears harried by his heartless Principal and asst Principals, we as viewers need to remember he is not even doing a quarter of the work an ordinary teacher must do.

There are many scenes where he is helping coach the football team that are useless and off topic from the show’s premise. There are also large spaces of time devoted in one episode to Danza’s daughter and fights breaking out that really have nothing to do with understanding teaching. You would think in one year they’d have gathered more footage of Danza becoming a proficient teacher. Still, what is there is worth seeing.

In conclusion, while it may seem I am not big on this series, I do recommend you see it. There were many times (mostly in episodes 1-3) where I found myself cheering because so many things resonated as true to my job. It is nice to know people see the constraints of time and demands of the administration and parents. It shows some of what what we teachers have to deal with on the job.

Danza probably went into this thinking because he was an entertainer he could succeed. It is far more than that. You must engage the learner with innovative methods. Often you receive no recognition. I hope civilians (non-teachers) will see all we are expected to do and that not just anyone can waltz in and do it. Teacher preparation and teacher training are crucial but tenacity and ongoing improvement are also invaluable.

Teach: Tony Danza is a reality show on A&E currently running on Friday nights. (You can currently catch all the epsiodes free online at hulu.com)

Cyber-Safety $1,000 Classroom Grant

I’m promoting this teacher grant opp because I think it’s helpful and fairly easy to apply for, especially if, like me, you enjoy writing. Below is the information Jason mailed to me. I hope you’ll take some time to look at it! Good luck!

Hi

My name is Jason and I am the Community Manager at Internet.frontier.com. I want to inform you about an awesome teacher grant opportunity. The grant is for $1,000 and open to school teachers and college professors.

In order to apply, teachers must submit either a 300-500 word essay or 1-2 minute video on the following prompt:

The Internet provides students a vast resource for research and learning. Yet, navigating the beneficial and dangerous places online has been an ever-evolving battle. What have you as a teacher and your classes learned when it comes to cyber safety?

More information about this opportunity can be found here:

https://internet.frontier.com/cyber-security-grant.html

The application deadline is April 30, 2017 so it would be great if you could post this opportunity as soon as possible on your The ADTA Website – Grant website page (http://www.adtatoday.org/) so teachers have ample time to prepare their applications.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.

Kind regards,
Jason Linton
Community Manager
Internet.frontier.com

20 Days is 20 Days – Musing on an Upcoming Test

20130111-144253.jpgThe California Standards Test (CST) is banging at the front door. It’s been an arduous year preparing for it and I must admit, it seems like it came faster than ever. But 20 days is 20 Days and a lot can be accomplished when one is focused and prepared based on data. I have a lot of data. I have used assessments to plan my instruction (as well as guide it). There are at least 6 standards I know we have to really get down pat. Beyond that, some need review. This is what we will be doing in my classroom for the next 20 days.

I always wish I would have done more when the test arrives. I think that will always be a constant. Still, I know when we have done enough to improve upon last year. Ultimately that is my goal/partnership goal with every student: improvement. Most kids can be 70% or higher when the teacher and student are dedicated. All kids can improve so that is my classroom goal. We will be focusing on standards as directed by data for 20 days.

Dealing With Fighting in Schools: Are we Helping Our Kids?

Many parents tell their kids they have a right to fight in self-defense. Is this notion of “I’m defending myself” really worth them getting killed over? Let’s go beyond our animal urges and look at the psychology of what we tell our kids.


Walking home from school or playing on the playground as a kid, were you bullied? Flip that around now: were YOU the bully? As a public school teacher in an inner-city demographic, I deal with the issue of kids fighting M-F (not Sa-Su thank goodness). I can attest that it is a real issue for parents and teachers. I am a big proponent of teaching things outside academics that are so necessary as life skills like teaching music and conflict resolution for example. Unfortunately, even the democrats have become polarized on language and math only so it may be a few years.

So if that is true, why is it I hear nearly all parents of kids involved in fights say they give their child permission to fight? (especially us dads) Of course, we invoke the “self-defense” clause of all that’s common sense about humanity … I would never argue with that. But, there is something they don’t know … something they don’t see. You might refer to it as “the fallen nature” if you are a Christian. Or, you might call it the law of the jungle if you’re an atheist. However you label the data, it’s there and it is kids beating the crud out of each other daily and blaming it on dear old mom and dad.

Last week there was a kid in my summer school class who pummeled another kid right in front of me. (incidentally, if you want to read a hilarious story about a similar student I had my first year, click here) This kid doing the pummeling was about 80 pounds give or take and the kid he was hitting was maybe 40, 45 tops I’d say. After going through all the steps and paperwork that we teachers must to in order to avoid being sued, I met with his dad and his dad said these exact words:

“I tell my son to defend himself because the school don’t do nothing.”

Poetry to this teachers’ ears (not). This isn’t an isolated case. I have even seen kids aggravate smaller kids until the small ones take a swing … then they move in fast for the, well in keeping with the idiom … the kill.

So what’s my point? I’d like parents to clear their minds of needless fears in much the same way you would get a Orovo detox or something physical like that. My school strives to be safe. It’s in the worst part of the High Desert. If any of you out there know Adelanto, it’s in “Old Adelanto.” I doubt many will see a picture in their head. It’s way off any tourist path. Still we keep it safe, and I know many other schools where they strive to do the same. Counsel your kids to NOT punch or hit, even in self-defense. Most the time, to avoid one parent suing the school, if any blows are thrown for any reason, both kids get suspended. There is a fine line between defending oneself and opening a can of whoop-ass. I wish more parents would have that discussion at the dinner table every night until their kids’ are 18. Let’s go beyond our animal urges and look at the psychology of what we tell our kids.

5 Reminders for a Better Teaching Year

16543582619_9514979bea_kSharing positives pays great dividends

I think time has shown me that I get tired of doing this each day in my class. At the same time there is an effect of family and brotherly sisterly feelings when I do it long term. This is something to start and not stop doing in 2015-2016.

Morning Routines

Going into the year, morning routines need to be established and followed. This is definitely part of classroom behavior.

Model the correct behavior

I think it’s really important to not escalate kids’ anger. Challenging a student is not a productive strategy. When they have done something wrong, simply remind them of the rule and if they show anger, remind them you are on their side and you will revisit it. Sometimes modeling the right behavior is best. Give them an activity safe to do while they calm down. Later on, in private clarify how they made a wrong choice and discuss better ways of handling it.

Bell to Bell teaching and working

My teaching contract says 9-3:30p To avoid being ridiculed or otherwise criticized by admin or rude and nosy colleagues, the most important part of 2015-2016 is not so much the goals but planning them within the contractual boundaries. These oddball people who are always complaining about the hours and hours they put in off contract time may gain the admin favor but they do not have a sustainable model and are likely to be way more stressed on the inside. I feel the same way about those who spend thousands on their class every year. That’s just unwise, uncalled for, and borderline neurotic. Be great when the contract allots you to do it. The other time is yours.

Do Not Let Supervisors or Colleagues Sap Your Energy or Vision … I Repeat:

Students can make it tough to be a teacher. They can also make it totally worthwhile. Colleagues are the same way. In my experience however, many cannot be trusted. Do not … I repeat DO NOT ever allow colleagues to sap your energy or vision. Make sure your focus is never on them. Your class, your kids is the range or vision you must stick to. Do not deviate into paying attention to colleagues or bosses or you’ll be doomed in this line of work. Your classroom and your students, away from the hue and cry of colleagues and admin, are your only chance to real success as a teacher.

Never Mind the Trivialities, Just Reward!

Sometimes I get caught up in the minutae of how I am going to roll out a new classroom student recognition idea. There’s a great program out called Class Dojo and it works really well if you have a plan and you’ve practiced a lot with it. Otherwise, it’s sort of like heading out on vacation in a Ford up on blocks … you don’t go anywhere. How do you get that experience to make it work? I say, jump in and try it. Kids thrive on recognition. For lack of a better analogy, it’s like a pat on the head for them. If you wait until your system is perfect and you’ve spent $1,000’s of dollars on prizes at Oriental Trading Company, you’re going to miss countless opportunities to validate the kids through rewards.

Continue reading “Never Mind the Trivialities, Just Reward!”

What You Should do in the Morning

imageEvery class is different in the morning, even when the daily schedule is the same. While teachers and classes may vary, the needs of schoolchildren are the same. Over time I have found that in the morning you should:

Take attendance. If you don’t the secretary gets annoyed. Plus, it’s how we get paid.

Greet as many kids as you can with a kind smile that says, “I’m glad you are here and that I have a chance to be your teacher. If you miss a few kids, make sure they at least hear you greet a student. This lowers their affective filter and tells them you’re not in a bad mood.

Preview the day. Most teachers do this on the board but I’ve found a pep talk about the day gets the kids more dialed in. Continue reading “What You Should do in the Morning”