I watched the premiere of A&E's Teach: Tony Danza with a great deal of interest this weekend. Not because I'm a die-hard Danza fan, but because I'm interested to see a teacher's first year.
Of course, I realize that this look won't be complete; that most first-year teachers don't have cameras following them around, Danza might get more help and support than other first-year teachers, and he's of course older than most first-year teachers. But I'm still interested to see what, if anything, we can glean from this.
I found his first interaction with one of the Assistant Principals hilarious! She chastised him for not clocking in at 7:30, and said it didn't matter what time he got to his classroom, all in a very patronizing manner. And he looked like a kid getting called to the Principal's office, apologizing and hanging his head in appropriate shame.
He was also completely nervous in front of his class, and his high school students teased him like they would any other teacher. Most of these kids had no idea who Tony Danza was before he came into their classroom.
I was amused when Danza talked too much about himself (an actor with an ego? Well I never!), read his students' papers aloud instead of letting them do it, but he did recognize these things later, and I'm curious to see how much he is able to overcome that. How long does it take to change that sort of behavior?
I remember teachers like that. Some get so enthralled with the sound of their own voice that they don't recognize the glaze in their students' eyes. They think we're glistening with wonder and awe at their brilliance. Sylvia has one teacher that she really likes, but from one Back to School Night, I know that he talks too much and strays too far from the subject.
I remember once, in 5th grade, I asked a four-word question, and the teacher spent 40 minutes on his answer. Fellow classmates thanked me for asking him that question because it meant he didn't have time to give us homework since he didn't cover anything he was supposed to in class! I suspect there will be more instances where we can relate to this show.
And this, together with movies like Race to Nowhere and Waiting for "Superman", might be what it takes to get this country talking about education.