Peter Greene learned that the Tulsa public schools have adopted a program to standardize teaching by putting a little microphone in teachers’ ears through which they can get real-time coaching. The superintendent in Tulsa is Deborah Gist, a reformer who was previously State Commisssioner of Education in Rhode Island, where she achieved plaudits from President Obama and Arne Duncan for supporting the mass firing of the entire staff of Central Falls High School.
Tulsa public schools invited the press to see a demonstration of scripted teaching.
“The press were there to watch Remote Control Scripting in action because they had been invited there by Tulsa Public Schools and the company TPS hired to provide this program. It’s the same company that put Berard through her paces– CT3 (The Center for Transformative Teacher Training). They are partners with all the cool kids– Success Academies, Teach for America, Aspire, and many other charter schools….
“No Nonsense Nurturing has been around forever, but previously we’ve called it “tough love” or “taking a hard line” or even “acting like an emotionally-withholding, borderline-abusive jerk.” I have never seen nor read of an example of it that doesn’t make me immediately think “this is no way to treat human beings.”
“Real-Time Coaching, the part that got all the press attention in Tulsa, is actually Real-Time Scripting, and like scripting, it has no place in a classroom. Ever. No child should ever, ever have a teacher whose answer to, “Why are we doing this?” is “Because the voices in my head tell me to.”
“The real time nature of the coaching is actually a bug, not a feature. If I’m coaching another teacher, after I’ve watched the lesson, I’ll need at least a few minutes to reflect. In the real time moment, I’m pretty much limited to the instant thought of What I Would Do, or, if I’ve been trained in a particular method, the One Correct Response to that situation. Either response devalues and dismisses that teacher’s own teaching voice.
“It’s just silly to say that there is One Correct Way to teach a particular lesson, irregardless of the teacher or the class involved. It makes no more sense than saying there is One Correct Way to be a spouse, irregardless of who is your partner.
Borrero defends CT3 practices by saying, “Our programs were developed through careful analysis of high performing teachers’ practices in schools serving traditionally disenfranchised communities across the country; all of our work is rooted in building positive life-altering relationships with youth and their families.” But it is hard for me to imagine how Real Time Coaching could possibly help accomplish any such thing.
“Standardizing and human behavior is the worst kind of folly. To fit in such a system requires the practitioners to be less themselves, less real, less human. It is a favored dream of people who are too small to comprehend the vast variety of human experience and behavior, too scared to face anything but the narrow sliver of possibilities they feel prepared to master, or too morally impaired to respect the independence and autonomy of other human beings.
“Good teaching exists at the intersection of the material, the humanity of the teacher, and the humanity of the students in the room. Additionally, that intersection is influenced by a background of previous experience, current events, and the feelings of the moment. It cannot be standardized any more than a marriage or a child or a pancake or a planet can be standardized. And it can’t be attempted because it shouldn’t be attempted.
“I have no doubt that buried here in there in the real-time scripting and the no-nurturing nonsense, there are occasional nuggets of useful information or technique. But it is saddening to see CT3 still successfully peddling their wares. Nobody needs to teach like a robot.”
This program is a vivid demonstration of lack of respect for teachers. It strips them of both their professionalism and their dignity.