Archives › 2008 › July

Is it better to succed at trying to be good or fail at trying to be great? This is a fundamental question that’s at the heart at my differences with TFA with regard to the training of the CMs. Looking over the curriculum and talking with CMs, I realize that TFA is holding up models…

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Jul 30 2008

Common teacher mistake #5

Common teacher mistake #5 — Making the first test too difficult. It’s important that all your students succeed on the first formal assessment. Even if you’ve conducted enough ‘informal’ assessments that they’ve convinced you that they’ve learned, the students need to convince themselves that they’ve learned, and for them that means success on a test.…

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Jul 30 2008

Some signs of improvement

Some signs of improvement. There were a lot of good comments on my last post. I’m all for ‘open exchange’ even if people don’t agree with me. I’m hearing a lot of people say that TFA is receptive to constructive criticism. If that’s the case, it’s a new thing which I’m glad about. My comments…

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Jul 29 2008

The secret TFA ‘quit rate’ revealed

The secret TFA ‘quit rate’ revealed. Let me first say that, despite my recent ‘suggestions’ for TFA, I think that it is a good organization. I criticize it the way a patriot of the U.S. might when it feels we’re going in a non-productive direction. They do a great job with recruitment and I think…

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A critique of the TFA ‘Classroom Managment & Culture’ booklet. At the institute they use as a text a series of books that comprise the institute curriculum. Who wrote these books, I’m really not sure. But looking over the 162 page ‘Classroom Management & Culture’ booklet, I get a lot of information about what sorts…

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Jul 27 2008

Common teacher mistake #4

Common teacher mistake #4: Too much enthusiasm on the first day. My first year, I was wrongly under the impression that my task on the first day was to ‘wow’ my class and get their attention. As good as this sounds at first, it’s the absolute wrong thing to do and here’s why: When you…

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Jul 24 2008

Common teacher mistake #3

Common teacher mistake #3. Overusing cooperative learning. Cooperative learning is a great tool when used properly and when used in moderation. Unfortunately some schools have ‘bought in’ to this method so much that teachers are actually mandated to seat their students in groups at all times. As a teacher, I’d like to be trusted to…

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Jul 18 2008

A proud day for me

What’s the #1 selling book in the ‘Classroom Managment’ category of Give up? Well, as of today, I’m proud to say, it’s my ‘Reluctant Disciplinarian.’ You can have the content for free, however, on YouTube. I posted the workshop I presented at TFA institutes from 1995 to 2004. Here’s proof of the milestone Here’s…

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Jul 17 2008

The ‘evolultion’ of the TFA institute

The ‘evolution’ of the TFA institute. You’d expect the 2008 institute, eighteen years after the first institute at USC, to be very different and superior to its 1990 ancestor. As someone who was around since the second institute, and who had the opportunity to participate in fifteen consecutive institutes from 1991 until 2005, I’m in…

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Jul 16 2008

“Are you a new teacher?”

“Are you a new teacher?” Some kid is definitely going to ask you so what are you going to say? What most new TFA teachers incorrectly think is the best way to answer this is to exaggerate the seventeen days (or hours!?!) of practice teaching during the institute. To me, this is like bragging about…

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Jul 15 2008

How can you instantly assess your whole class?

How can you instantly assess your whole class? As you teach, you want to continually assess if your students are getting it. You don’t want to wait until you are grading the test to realize that half the class was lost. But in-class assessment is difficult. The least effective way to tell if your whole…

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Jul 14 2008

Common teacher mistake #2

Common teacher mistake #2. Teaching effectively is mostly a process of elimination. Don’t make the most common teacher mistakes, and everything else you do will be OK. Unfortunately we’re programmed to make these mistakes. The only way to avoid them is to be keenly aware of the most common ones. Here’s #2: Allowing students to…

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Jul 13 2008

Common teacher mistake #1

Common teacher mistake #1 Teachers, especially new ones, are prone to making many mistakes. Some mistakes are made unintentionally, but the worst, and most avoidable mistakes, are ones that are made while actively trying to follow some advice from new-teacher training. I’m going to write a series of blog entries cataloging the most common teacher…

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Jul 07 2008

Why you should never post your consequences

Why you should never post your consequences. Do you remember any of your teachers ever posting their consequences? No. Why? Is it because they were lazy non-TFA ‘traditionally certified’ teachers? No. It is because posting consequences is a very bad idea. Unfortunately this bad idea is advocated by TFA. Even though some veteran teachers may…

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Jul 04 2008

Is summer school harder than regular school?

Is summer school harder than regular school? I remember thinking, when summer school at the institute was going badly, I’d think “The problem is that this is just summer school, and the kids know that. When I get my own classes in the fall, things will be different.” And I was right. They were much,…

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Jul 01 2008

How to say ‘No’ without feeling guilty

How to say ‘No’ without feeling guilty. Students gauge a teacher’s competence by how that teacher exhibits confidence and decisiveness. To measure this, all a student has to do is ask a simple question. “Can I get a drink of water?” “Can I go to the bathroom” “Can I turn this in late?” If you’re…

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

High School

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