Sunday, July 24, 2011

the obligatory E4E / Ruben Brosbe post

Before I get into it, I'd like to give Mr. A. Talk my sincere thanks for the plug he gave me. When I saw the title of his post, I screamed so loudly and with such joy that Mister Rim was suspected I won the lottery. And I actually called my mother. Mr. A's kind of my guru. Thanks, pal!

So to get on with it, a bit of disclosure for those who don't already know: I'm a newer teacher (going into my 5th year) and was a Teaching Fellow. And I am very sympathetic - no, EMPATHETIC-  toward new teachers in alternate certification programs. I think for the most part, most of us want to do well, and the vocal group of E4E "Asshats" and "reformers" represent more of a minority than you really think. (Or I pray that's the case)

In fact I think I "liked" E4E on Facebook, before I knew what they were. But here's what's wrong with the whole thing, in no particular order:

Teaching is not an art, nor is it an assembly line. It's a CRAFT. Think about a craftsperson, say a carpenter....
There's GOT to be a lot of technical know how - you get the specs, envision a finished product, find out how your client (s)  feel about it, then tweak a bit, then there's measuring, proportions, sawing, sanding - ELBOW GREASE. Then on top of that you've got to think of the design - this is where your heart and soul and most importantly YOU GUT  goes. Do the clients want a plain austere design, or something fancy with whimsy? Do they want something fancy with whimsy while you think that plain and austere is the way to go....Confused? Turn on any reality TV home make over show, and you'll get my drift.
The former is something that can be taught to a teacher, lots of "strategies" out there - the latter comes from the gut, the picking and choosing of which strategy goes with the teacher and the kids.  But no matter how good you're gut is, if you don't have the know how, the meat and potatoes - you're LOST. You can't ask the right questions if you don't even know what they are. Admit it, we got shafted with training and DEMAND you receive the guidance and mentorship you deserve.

And if you can't do that, join the union  - that's what its there for. You may not always agree with their decisions, but that's life. And if you join, get vocal. In my experience, the UFT, for all their flaws has always been very supportive of newer teachers, and also special ed teachers.

Tenure? Get over it. What it is now is not what it's supposed to be. Tenure is not a feather in your cap. It's the right to due process - so "they " can't fire you for, say being an unprepared TFA / Fellow who they just don't like. Tenure doesn't mean you're a great teacher. Tenure guarantees you have a chance at NOT being fired for some stupid thing - if a principal can't terminate you because you're a lousy teacher, theh the principal hasn't done their homework.

It's better to leave than be stubborn....My wise mommy, Mrs Rim, told me " If you haven't got your sea legs by the 3rd year, shame."

And lastly - DID YOU LEARN NOTHING FROM YOUR ASSBACKWARDS TRAINING? All we learned was political crap - I wrote a 10 page paper on "pedagogy of the oppressed" my junior year4 as an undergrad, and a 3 page one as a NYCTF grad student. Ugh. If you are in the blogosphere your first few years teaching, stop bragging about all the cool shit you do (and you probably DO do cool shit sometimes) and start ASKING.

Newer teachers, especially those in special ed have an absolute obligation to ask more and tell less..

And as for the hipster beard, Ruben - I have a theory that people with facial hair are creating a shield between themselves and life.

*this is what I have to say. I don't plan on posting much more on this topic, unless something else interesting comes up  - I think  E4E will implode upon itself like the house in "Poltergeist" by....hmmmm .. March?

Stay tuned for more specific tales from the short bus....and Thanks a Zillion Mr. A Talk!


  1. Welcome aboard. My wife is a D75 special education teacher and I can empathize with you on working with non-testable children.

  2. Chaz - looking forward to you and your wives input.
    Bronx, what's your email

  3. I'm used to people screaming when they hear from me, but usually it's not for joy!

    It sounds to me like you understand teaching in a way that Ruben and his cohorts can only dream of. It is, unquestionably, a craft. Anyone can pick up the tools, but not everyone can create something with them. I'm not sure Ruben will ever get it. How can a tool wield a tool?

  4. Welcome! Thanks for an insightful post and have a great school year as well. I'm looking forward to reading more...

  5. Mr A -
    "How can a tool wield a tool?'is up there with the best quotes ever!

  6. Nice post! Very nice. I could actually add more info to your diatribe there too.

    Speaking of Ruben, Miss Rim, look at some of the comments that I wrote on Ruben's blog posts. It is SO HARD TO BELIEVE that he doesnt get it.

    I also have a blog, since last July, Tales Of A Sweet Girl. I mostly write about unemployment, job loss, job layoffs, human rights causes, union labor laws, why our government currently sucks, etc. (little things like that).

  7. It has been 50 years (UGH) since I first walked into a classroom of my own...feeling very unsure about my own toolbox but quickly realizing the good fortune of having fallen among wonderful veterans filled with experiences and willingness to share as needed. It is an experience I wish ALL beginners could are SO RIGHT about the "craft" analogy! Education should also NOT be perceived as a BUSINESS although it is where some would take us I fear.