I am a historian, I have spent years (decades) studying and writing about American education. I know my limitations. Aside from teaching graduate students in courses about the history of education and controversies in current education policy, I have not been a classroom teacher. That may be why I respect classroom teachers so much. I can’t do what they do. I would not know how to control students who are bored and don’t want to be there. I would not be able to teach a classroom of 35 adolescents who wish they were somewhere else. I would not know how to teach 24 feisty five-year-olds. I would not have the patience to spend all day with little children. I am awed when I meet the men and women who do it every day.

The upshot is that I never tell others how to teach. How could I? I haven’t done it. I can’t do it. I have no authority to tell others how to do what I can’t do.

I do know a lot about the history of education, the politics of education, the federal role in education, the politics of testing and textbooks and curriculum. Aside from my studies, I worked in the federal Department of Education for two years, and served on the federal testing board for seven years. And I have learned a lot by writing books. But I have no authority to opine about how to teach.

Thus, when I read the following comment, written in response to my post this morning about the Match graduate school of education, I thought this would be a good place to start a discussion about how to teach. I’d like to hear from teachers. What do you think?

I am so glad that you brought up this \”emergency teacher prep\” program. I recently applied there (to the \”Match Teacher Corps\”, a one-year teaching prep program) and was pretty appalled.I just graduated from a very prestigious school and in my senior year began applying to different teaching programs. Since my school focused on liberal arts and less on practical applications, I was unable to take any education coursework or even minor in education. However, I knew all along that I wanted to go into teaching. My career center kept recommending to me MATCH-like programs — TFA was recommended to me many times, as well as MATCH, and the Academy for Urban School Leadership in Chicago (responsible for many of those lovely turnarounds!). Many of my peers were attracted to these options.You asked in a previous post, how are our nation\’s brightest and best being attracted to these ridiculous programs? Well, I am one of that population, and I will explain: academia buys into the idealism of these programs, and the notion that they can prepare teachers \”faster\” than regular programs. Many of my peers are on the fast-track to a career, especially when bogged down with student loans, and to many of us who have no background in education, it seems much more logical to become certified in three months rather than three years. If we get our salary faster, we can get on our feet faster, and start leading a stable life. Not to mention that TFA looks great on a resume, and who would want to teach in public schools, anyways?Well, apart from all this, I applied to MTC (Match Teacher Corps) and got asked for a phone interview. They provided me with the first chapter of one of their curricular texts. The chapter starts out with a quote from Gary Rubinstein (ironic, right?): \”Too many teachers struggle through their first year, expending vast quantities of energy trying to maintain classroom discipline–at the expense of teaching.\”

This text is extremely unprofessional and belittles the notion of teaching as a profession. Examples:

In this book, we describe the beliefs, presence, and moves you\’ll need. At the end of the book, we\’ll outline how we\’re going to help you buy into the beliefs, develop your presence, and master the moves.

The 6 Beliefs are:
1. Belief 1: I am the ultimate authority in my classroom.
2. Belief 2: My goal in classroom management must be 100%.
3. Belief 3: My Patrolling Effort and Behavior Oblongata (PEBO)
needs to be strengthened to the point of automaticity.
4. Belief 4: Even though my classroom management abilities are not
perfect, I still have the right and the responsibility to correct wrong
5. Belief 5: I have to hit the ground running on the first day in
6. Belief 6: Even \”bad\” kids want to be good and do well.

The 3 Rules of Authoritative Presence govern:
1. Your body language: Straight, squared up, still, relaxed, and with
eye contact.
2. How your voice sounds: Loud, decisive, confident, and urgent.
3. The words you choose: Formal and concise.

The 7 Proactive Moves are:
1. Greet students at the door.
2. Circulate.
3. Use Proximity.
4. Scan.
5. Deliver clear directions & expectations.
6. Narrate compliance.
7. Planned reminders of expectations.

The 9 Reactive Moves are:
1. Stop and stare.
2. Sit up signal.
3. Hands down signal.
4. John I need.
5. I need 2.
6. Demerits.
7. Dismissal from class.
8. Do it again.
9. Group reset.

–It then goes on to say–

Belief 1: I am the ultimate authority in the classroom.
In other words, your mindset is, \”I am a total bad@$$.\”

Belief 2: My goal in classroom management must be 100%.
Getting 90% of kids to do things will feel good. But the thing
about 90% is, it just ain\’t 100%. And the other thing about 90% is, soon it becomes 80%…and then it\’s 70%… and on down the road, you don\’t got any percent.

Belief 3: My Patrolling Effort and Behavior Oblongata needs to be
strengthened to the point of automaticity.
As in, \”I will pounce like a cat on anything less than 100%!\”

–Etc., etc. It then goes on to have a picture of Chuck Norris, with the caption \”Is this Chuck Norris? Or a mirror?\” And a picture of a shaky house with the caption \”This house used to be on 100% solid ground. Then it was 90% solid ground. Then 80%. Then…not.\”

I could go on, but I won\’t. There is enough to analyze here, alone. How damaging could it be to adopt and truly believe Belief 6? And what is it with this emphasis on 100%–how quickly a teacher will burn out if they truly believe they are obligated to reach every student! Do students here sound like they are respected as individuals, or are they treated as cogs in the machine of education? It seems to me that the teachers themselves are treated like cogs, and if the students do not succeed it is the fault of the teacher.

What kind of profession does this text reflect? A respectful career choice, or a stint as a bartender? This reads more like an instruction manual giving tips on how to catch a girl. I was offended in reading it and was glad that another job opportunity opened up before I had to make a decision about MATCH.