August 31, 2011

Want to know what's wrong with Teach for America?

This video is a clear indication of what's wrong with Teach for America. Pretty much everything the teacher does is contrary to best practices; yet this is what Arne Duncan, Bill Gates and President Obama want.

Is it any wonder we can't reform education?


  1. So sad, where's her explanation about how learning in her classroom is so dynamic that no one wants to misbehave?

  2. Traditional teachers who put up signs about rules and consequences rarely comprehend the possibility of such a place. Teach for America teachers will never have dynamic classrooms, because they aren't taught how to create them.

  3. Contrary to "best practices" as defined by whom? Personally, I see nothing wrong with this. Her "rules" are standard operating procedure for schools in the USA and schools in foreign lands; even of those who outperform the USA in math, reading, and science. Her "consequences" are reasonable and fair and center around communication. If they help her build a stronger relationship with her students, then that is a good thing.

    Now, hers is not my "style" of teaching. But I also know that I have students who spend more time testing the boundaries because I do not spell things out precisely and because I have no standard response to their behaviors. But I certainly would never say that she is not using best practices.

    Perhaps she is not emulating the classroom described by Alfie Kohn, but I'll bet her students have genuine respect for her and know that she cares about them, even though they may give her a reputation of "strict."

  4. I would say best practices as defined by people who have been successful in the classroom without rules and consequences. Alfie Kohn, whom you mention, Pernille Ripp, Mark Forget, Angela Maiers, Joe Bower, Monika Hardy and yours truly, to name a few.

    I would think that the students in the video don't respect the teacher at all; rather, they fear her and the consequences they will get if they do the slightest thing she perceives as wrong, such as leave their seats or talk to a neighbor.

    The sort of posted rules and name-on-the-board tactic she embraces send the message: "If you make the slightest mistake, you'll be in trouble, and I'll call your parents." This certainly does not build trust between students and teachers.

    If these are "standard operating procedures" for so many schools, as you suggest, we definitely need change.