Subj: Teacher Choice 2
Edupolitics has 2 tribes. “Reformers” (example Arne Duncan). “Anti-the-current-type-of-reform-ers.”
Of course many people, including myself, find ourselves “picking and choosing” issues and ideas from both tribes.
One such issue that cleaves is school culture.
There are educommenters and bloggers like John Thompson, Nancy Winterbottom, and Gary Rubinstein who, I think, describe themselves as in the anti-Duncan camp, but also believe school culture in high-poverty schools is a key front-line issue. It needs to be addressed with much more vigor and energy. (I’m sure they’ll comment if I’m mischaracterizing their views, and I’ll edit the blog post if needed). John has a book draft describing discipline issues in his large high school in Oklahoma City; Gary published a book called “The Reluctant Disciplinarian,” where he wrote “Too many teachers struggle through their first year, expending vast quantities of energy trying to maintain classroom discipline—at the expense of teaching.”
Every “No Excuses” charter leader and teacher would agree. We further would contend that this is a teacher choice issue. Future teachers should be allowed to choose programs that tackle these issues honestly. John has blogged that this issue represents a cross-the-aisle “bipartisan” opportunity for educators from both tribes; he’s just asked charters acknowledge similar but identical school populations (because of selection and de-selection), which I’ve done before on my own blog.
By contrast, there are several superintendents that are pro Arne Duncan’s view of reform, but don’t think of school culture as Job One.
Instead, they think of school culture merely as one of several other issues — curriculum, teacher recruiting and evaluation, using data, differentiated instruction, turnarounds, and so forth. If you asked these superintendents to describe PRECISELY what a good classroom would look like in terms of decorum (what’s okay, what’s not okay), what consequences would happen when things went wrong, how the principal should support the teachers to achieve that — you’d hear crickets.
Similarly, there are some who “anti-current-reform” folks who not only do not prioritize school culture, but actively reject our version of it. Some are policymakers, scholars, or suburban educators who don’t spend much time in high-poverty schools. But many are skilled educators from tough inner-city schools, often identifying themselves as progressive.
These critics reject that young teachers in inner-city schools need extensive, explicit instruction on how to create a positive classroom climate; or that such training is useful but should not be a graduate school course; or that our particular approach is “militaristic.” There is selective citing of training videos and manuals, etc, without context. In fairness, “Reformers” do the same thing sometimes to their opponents, so perhaps this is just how things go on the civility front.
In the comments section, I’ll post the introduction to our classroom management guide for new teacher trainees. If I can figure out how to upload our Chuck Norris photos and other silly stuff et al, I’ll add that. It’s in draft form. We’re hoping to get feedback this year and publish it next year. So anything thoughts now would be helpful.
Is this a reasonable starting point for recent college graduates who, one year later, will begin work as full-time teachers?
While our program is narrow (only for charter and turnaround schools), I’d love to hear in particular from any veteran educators from inner-city schools…..