Poems By and For Teachers: What Teachers Make (Taylor Mali)

Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher:

I first heard of, and heard, Taylor Mali while attending Stanford University’s Teacher Education Program (STEP) in 2010-2011. His passion and raw truthfulness resonated strongly with me as I watched a video of him reciting this poem at a slam poetry competition. In fact, it struck such a chord in me that for my capstone assignment at the end of the program, where I elected to create an audio video collage speaking to my experiences with the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTPs) as a student teacher and teacher candidate, I included two clips from Taylor’s recitation along with other clips from Stand and Deliver, Dead Poets Society, and To Sir ,with Love.

Mali exemplifies the zeal I bring to my second career in a way that still gives me goose bumps when I watch him recite “What Teachers Make.” Bravo, Taylor!

Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

The following brief resume is taken from Taylor Mali’s website:

Mali is a vocal advocate of teachers and the nobility of teaching, having himself spent nine years in the classroom teaching everything from English and history to math and S.A.T. test preparation. He has performed and lectured for teachers all over the world, and his 12-year long Quest for One Thousand Teachers, completed in April of 2012, helped create 1,000 new teachers through “poetry, persuasion, and perseverance,” an achievement Mali commemorated by donating 12″ of his hair to the American Cancer Society.

Mali is the author most recently of “What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World” (Putnam 2012)….

What Teachers Make

He says the problem with teachers is
What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?

He reminds the other dinner guests…

View original 729 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Book That Got Teaching Right (Samuel Freedman)

Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher:

Larry Cuban’s reposting of Samuel Freedman’s New Yorker piece, The Book that Got Teaching Right, serves as salve for this teacher’s soul.

My brief experience as a public school teacher has opened my eyes to the ongoing battles between those who advocate for teachers recognizing the enormity of their (our) tasks and those who seek to blame teachers for society’s ills. While all teachers can improve, as anyone who works in any role at any employer may as well, teachers, or their unions, are not the enemy of progress as reformers proclaim. As a profession of caregivers, we give our heart and our soul in our attempts to educate those brought into our classrooms year after year, regardless of their prior preparation, socioeconomic status and its concomitant burdens, or desire to be present. The fact that we continue to struggle today with circumstances depicted in the sixties by such a classic novel as Up the Down Staircase underscores the fact that the societal class with the economic means to contribute the most to improving our system continues to hoard their wealth while seeking to extract more from the public coffers. Loosen your purse strings folks, rather than pointing your fingers at those who willingly sacrifice for those who have so little.

“…one of the most significant aspects of the controversy over “decentralization,” as community control was formally called, was how it fostered the idea of teachers as the enemy. Decentralization was the product of an alliance between organizations run by liberal élites, such as the Ford Foundation, and low-income black and Puerto Rican communities. This created a pincer effect, with middle-class white teachers and principals portrayed, from both above and below, as the problem. They didn’t live where they taught; they didn’t care.” (Samuel Freedman, 2014)

Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Samuel G. Freedman has authored seven books one of which is Small Victories: The Real World of a Teacher, Her Students, and Their High School. He is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker.  This piece was published September 1, 2014.

In the course of a few decades, I became separated from my copy of “Up the Down Staircase,” Bel Kaufman’s classic novel about a New York City schoolteacher. So after Kaufman died, in July, at the age of a hundred and three, I felt compelled to reread the book. I called up my neighborhood Barnes & Noble to reserve a copy. Considering the stunning popularity “Up the Down Staircase” had enjoyed—it spent sixty-four weeks on the best-seller list after its release, in 1965, inspired a popular film adaptation in 1967, and ultimately sold more than six million copies—I assumed that the coverage of Kaufman’s death had renewed interest in…

View original 1,259 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Arguing Over What Public Schools Should Do?*

Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher:

I believe our nation’s public schools should be as diverse as our country, its citizens, and the patchwork quilt of cultures and values therein. An overly centralized, overly “common” approach minimizes our ability to harness the natural creativity within us in response to our changing world. A monolithic educational system is doomed in the long-run. So, why accelerate that process?

Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

“Why do people argue so much about education?”

I heard this question as I pumped up Mt. Hamilton. Biking up a California mountain forces you to think about many things or else you note how goofy you are for taking five hours to climb nineteen miles just to eat peanut butter sandwiches in the parking lot of the James Lick Observatory. So two friends and I chat about biking, the panoramas of the Santa Clara valley and, yes, even education.

About halfway up the mountain my friends and I began talking about the constant disagreement over schools. Victor mentioned the uproar over whether a high school should provide condoms to students. Deborah remembered a conversation with an aunt who was a “creationist.” They knew I was an educator and this led to Deborah’s question: “Why do people argue so much about education?” Let me pick up the conversation as we…

View original 731 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment