Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Myth of the Extraordinary Teacher

Yes, we need to get rid of bad teachers. But we can't demand that teachers be excellent in conditions that preclude excellence.

"The kid in the back wants me to define "logic." The girl next to him looks bewildered. The boy in front of me dutifully takes notes even though he has severe auditory processing issues and doesn't understand a word I'm saying. Eight kids forgot their essays, but one has a good excuse because she had another epileptic seizure last night. The shy, quiet girl next to me hasn't done homework for weeks, ever since she was jumped by a knife-wielding gangbanger as she walked to school. The boy next to her is asleep with his head on the desk because he works nights at a factory to support his family. Across the room, a girl weeps quietly for reasons I'll never know. I'm trying to explain to a student what I meant when I wrote "clarify your thinking" on his essay, but he's still confused".

If you "terrified" by this introduction, read the full article, signed by Ellie Herman on July 31, 2011 at Los Angeles Times (Ellie Herman is a teacher at Animo Pat Brown Charter High School in South Los Angeles).,0,3910343.story

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