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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 28 2011

Drinking Kool-Aid 2.0

Everyone knows that Teach Like A Champion is my bible. My new school uses it as the foundation for everything they do. We all got copies of the book and it was referenced constantly in our first day of training today. I am overjoyed.

The big focus of my school is organizational culture. We spent all day today learning about our mission, our values, and our vision. We were told what to think, how to feel, what to do, and how to do it. We were told that we should put our values above everything, even student achievement. There are no shortcuts to success. If you don’t establish a school culture, the kids will establish it for you. It’s definitely a little bit cult-ish, but it was also really comforting. We’re all going to do it like this, we’re all going to do it this way, and it’s going to be amazing for children. It’s SO DIFFERENT from my last district, where they were subtle or apologetic if they tried to tell a teacher how to do anything.

And they have a discipline plan. I got multiple single-spaced pages of the all the different systems in place to acknowledge kids who do well and all the different systems in place to give appropriate consequences to kids who misbehave. There’s a paycheck system and a shout-outs system and a public recognition system. There are homework detentions and behavior detentions and lunch detentions… and in-school suspensions if you skip them. It looks like logic and order and control.

Also, everyone is really young (I doubt anyone at my school is over 40… maybe not even 35) and almost everyone is a TFA alum. The camaraderie was pretty intense, and the main topic of humor was either TFA inside jokes or “my old school sucked” stories.

Oh, and I was given my own laptop. It twists into a tablet and you can write on the screen with a stylus. No big deal.

PS. Did you know that only 9.7% of all Denver public school ninth graders will earn a college degree within ten years?

One Response

  1. Wess

    Baa, this sounds so amazing!! … And also a bit weird. Like a whole new TFA planet.
    … Would you still be my friend if I told you I haven’t read Teach Like A Champion yet?

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